Science and Sunday dinner

I made a sort of Sunday dinner yesterday. Why “sort of” you ask? Well, there werre no Yorkshire puddings and the meat (pork steaks) was fried rather than roasted because I don’t trust my oven at all (there’s something wrong with the thermostat – no matter how high a setting you put it on it always claims to be at most 150°C. And I really don’t want to risk putting meat in an oven that I don’t actually know the temperature of…). We did have both roast and mashed potatoes though. And after my recent trip to England I have actual proper gravy granules. German “Bratensosse” is just not the same. Sure, it goes well enough with wild boar or Schnitzel but for a proper Sunday dinner you’ve gotta have English gravy!
We had a starter as well. I’m currently doing an Open University short course called Science Starts Here and this weekend I had to do an experiment which involved putting sliced potatoes in the oven and weighing them every hour to find out what percentage of a potato is water. The end result was something that looked a lot like those potato skins you get as a starter in restaurants so we covered them in salt and pepper and ate them. I also dipped mine in allioli (garlic sauce) which was dee-licious. While we were waiting for the main course to finish cooking I happened to mention to Jan what a shame it was I had no dessert to offer him. You see, one of the things on my 101 things list is to cook a three course meal for my boyfriend (3 times!) and as I had done all the work with dinner I thought if I had dessert I could let this count (even if the starter was originally a science experiment). Having had the thought I naturally couldn’t rest until I’d at least tried to carry it out, so I got onto Google and started looking up recipes that only use ingredients I actually had in the house. It being a Sunday in German I would have had no chance of getting anything that was missing – only the petrol stations and the tiny little shop at the train station are open. Luckily I found a recipe for golden syrup dumplings, so I made that. Mine looked nothing like the picture on the website but they tasted good and that’s all that matters, right?

We were going to go to the cinema after dinner to see the German film Der Weisse Band (The White Ribbon – read about it here) but Jan decided he was too tired, so we stayed home and watched two episodes of ER instead. We’re up to season 3 now. I love the old ones – Noah Wyle (Carter) looks so young!

How to hunt for translation jobs in Germany

Looking for a job as a translator in Germany? Don’t want to actually have to leave the house to do so (or you’re not actually in Germany and can’t go wandering round the town you’re in looking for people to talk to)? Then read on and all shall be revealed…

I’m going to assume you’ve already checked out the usual sources (employment agency website, monster, jobsrapido etc.). If you haven’t done that bit get on it now then come back. We shall wait.

Next, get thee to Google and type in the word “Übersetzer” (translator) followed by the name of the town you want to work in. The first thing that appears is a list of Google maps results. Click on the bit where it offers you more Google maps results. Now right click on the first translation agency and open it in a new tab (if you don’t do this you’ll have to keep clicking the back button later and it will all get very annoying). This takes you to yet another Google maps page, this time for the individual translation agency. There should also be a website address on this page. Click there. It should open in a new tab (or possibly a new window if you’re using Internet Explorer. I don’t know, for I am not). You may now close the Google maps page for that agency.

Check the website for a link that says something like “jobs”, “careers” or “employment”. This is where you will find the jobs they currently have available. 90% of them will tell you they’re “always on the look out for new freelancers” – fine if you want to be a freelancer, not so good if you want an actual job. If the page actually lists opportunities at the company bookmark it for later reference. And if you can’t find a careers link try clicking on “contact” instead – sometimes it’s hidden there. If you don’t find anything the page can be closed. Likewise if they only want freelancers.

Repeat the above for the next translation agency on the list. And the next one. And the one after that. Try to pay some attention to where the map is taking you though – remember, the lower down the list you get the further away from the original town the agency will be.

When you find yourself clicking on the name of what you think is going to be a translation agency (after all, you did type “translator” into the searchy bit) but which actually turns out to be a private investigators, then realise it’s almost midnight and you’ve been searching for 2 hours it’s probably time to call it a day.

Now you can revisit all the pages you bookmarked and start sending out your CV.

And that, my friends, is what I did with myself last night. Apart from the bit where I send out my CV… for that I have to wait until Jan checks it and sends it back to me.
At least nobody can say I’m not trying to find a job!

Stuff that has annoyed me over the past few days

1. Not being able to sleep. The most annoying thing is that I’m actually really tired – too tired even to read, but as soon as I switch out the light every trace of sleepiness goes away and I’m left lying there, tired but wide awake. Grrr. The boyfriend is coming over tonight though, perhaps that will make things better.

2. The announcement on my tram yesterday. “Crackle. Hiss. Passangers. Mumble, mumble. Fizzle. Karlsruhe. Mumble, mumble. Crackle. Thank you.” You’d think by now someone would have invented a tram announcement thingy that could actually be understood!

3. Shop assistants. Why is it that they only ever offer assistance when you’re perfectly fine on your own. No, I do not help to walk the six steps to the other side of the shop and pick up a roll of sellotape thank you very much. But when you do need help they all seem to magically become incredible busy or get kidnapped by aliens.

4. Finally finding the perfect present for one of my relatives only to discover that none of the shops in Karlsruhe has it. Not one! It has now been ordered from Amazon, meaning I have to pay extra because of postage. Again, grrr.

5. The fact that I forgot to put a book in my bag yesterday and had nothing to read all the way to work. And all the way back. That’s an hour’s worth of tram journey with no reading material. Dooom!

6. The presenter on the radio station we listen to during our lunch break at work. She’s just so goddamn cheerful!
And just to balance things out a bit, here are some things that have amused me today:

– When you type in “subject to German law” on Google UK, the second link to come up is about strip searching. (In case you’re wondering why I typed that into Google it was to do with a translation I was proofreading.)

– They played Teenage Dirtbag by Wheetus on the radio today. The word gun was blocked out but they left dick and ass in. That’s Germans for ya – bad language is fine but please don’t sing about weapons! I know, not that funny but it amused me. Simple minds and all that…

Happy Birthday Paddington!

Google UK just told me Paddington, the marmelade loving bear featured in the books by Michael Bond, is 50, so I thought I’d take the opportunity to say Happy Birthday to one of my favourite bears.

I used to have a Paddington Bear when I was little. He was about 15 centimetres high with a red hat and a blue duffle coat that could be fastened with real wooden toggles. He was brilliant. I knitted him a scarf once. I was about 6 or 7 and someone had bought me a kids knitting set for Christmas (with red plastic needles). It was probably my Grandma – she was always into knitting. I got some bright pink wool to go with it so I decided I was going to knit a scarf. I had only knitted a tiny, miniscule scarf (maybe 10 centimetres long) when i got bored of it, so I announced that it was going to be a scarf for Paddington, as if that had been my intention all along. And so it became Paddington’s scarf. Not too long after that both Paddington and scarf went missing – I suspect it happened during our move from Northern Ireland back to England. Lots of stuff went missing during our various moves. I was quite upset about losing Paddington. After all, I had loved him enough to knit him his very own scarf.

Now I have a new Paddington. I spotted him at Heathrow airport the week before last and told Jan, who doesn’t know the Paddington bear books, the story of how I knitted my Paddington a scarf and lost him. I must have sounded pretty nostalgic because Jan promptly counted out the last of his English money to go towards buying me a new Paddington. Naturally I chose one with a red hat and blue duffle coat – some had them the other way round but in my memory Paddington’s coat was blue! My new bear is holding a briefcase and has a label round his neck – “Please look after this bear”. His toggles aren’t real, but that’s ok. I still love him, and I love my boyfriend for spontaneously deciding to buy him for me.

Happy Birthday Paddington Bear! May you continue to eat marmelade sandwiches for another 50 years.

Answering the world’s questions

I’ve had a headache and a sore throat all day today and I’m very, very tired, so I can’t be bothered to think of anything to blog about. Instead I’m going to get my friendly neighbourhood search engine users to do the thinking for me. Yes, it’s that time again. Time to answers the questions that google springs upon me. Those of you who don’t know what I’m on about about can go and read the introduction to my previous questions and answers session. The rest of you may carry on reading.
Here come the questions…

1. Questions to ask to prove people are drunk
I wouldn’t have thought you’d need to ask them anything. Surely the staggering around bouncing off walls thing gives it away. If you really can’t tell try asking them their phone number. I know I can never remember mine when I’m drunk. Mind you, I probably couldn’t tell you it when I’m sober either so it’s not exactly a foolproof test.

2. Why am I still tired when I wake up?
Possibly because you spent half the night on the computer asking Google stupid questions. Either that or you were forced to share a room with someone who snores. Or it’s Wednesday. Nobody can fail to wake up tired on a Wednesday. Fact.

3. How to practice translation
Find something to translate. Translate it. Show your translated version to a native speaker of that language. Find out your translation is crap. Translate the text again. Continue until either a) you get bored or b) your brain turns to mush from trying to think in two different languages at once. If you can keep this up every day for a month you’re ready to become a translator.

4. How to tell difference between black & navy socks
You can’t, it’s impossible. I suggest you throw out all the boring black and navy socks and go get yourself some interesting ones.

5. Why do I dream of serial killers
Three possibilities.
1) You’re a psycho
2) There actually is a serial killer out to get you
3) You’ve been watching too many horror films.
You choose which one you think applies to you.

OK, that’s all for today. My stats have been rather slow on the questions front lately and I really don’t feel like answering 12 different variations on the “I am bored” theme. If you enjoeyed this pop on over to Katy’s place for more question time. Meanwhile I’m off to suck on a strepsil and drink enough tea to fill a small bath.

Answering the questions that you ask.

Well not you personally. The general public type of you. Or more specifically that part of the general public that types questions into Google and ends up at my blog.
I actually kind of stole this idea from Katyboo, but I’m pretty sure she’s not the only blogger that’s ever done this so she won’t mind me stealing it… will you Katy?

So for those who don’t know the concept, I shall explain.
Basically wordpress has a statistics page where it tells me, among other things, how many people have looked at my blog and what link they clicked on to get here. It also tells me what people typed into search engines that led them to me. This blog will be a sort of question and answers session, where I take some of the search terms and answer/comment on them.

And now, without further ado, it’s time for me to answer the world’s questions…

1. What to do when bored at midnight?
You could try to going to bed. That’s traditionally where people are at midnight. Unless they have something better to do, which you clearly don’t otherwise you wouldn’t be bored.
Wow, that was easy. Next question please…

2. How to make my crap smell worse.
Why? Why would you want to do that? Personally I think crap already smells bad enough, even the less smelly varieties. It’s a waste product for goodness sake! If you really, really want to go through with it try eating lots of Mexican food. All those spices have to have some effect, right?

3. Why don’t babies blink often?
Don’t they? I haven’t been around enough baby babies to notice. My guess would be becasue they have smaller eyes.

4. How do the Brits cook their tea?
Do you mean tea as in cups of tea? Cause in that case we don’t. Why would you want to cook tea? You just put it in a cup or tea pot (in one of those strainer things if it’s loose) and add boiling water. Then you leave it to stew for a while. No cooking involved.
If by tea you mean the evening meal – which I doubt because only people from Northern England call it that and they wouldn’t need to ask – we probably cook it the same way you do, in an oven or on a stove. Unless you’re a caveman, in which case you cook your meals slightly differently…

5. What is the German law on naming babies?
I’ve done a post on this before, so this time I shall be brief.
Basically it says the name is not allowed to harm the child in any way, so no calling your kids Talula Does the Hula from Hawaii (this really happened, by the way…). Oh, and it has to clearly state the gender of the child, so names that can be used for either sex either have to combined with a middle name that’s one or the other or made into double (hyphenated) names. If the officials don’t believe your choice of name is actually a name you have to prove it. And no, saying “but Frank Zappa named his daughter Moon Unit” does not count as proof.

6. What can you do when you turn 25 years old?
– Panic
– Get incredibly drunk and go around telling people that you’re actually not 25, not at all, it’s just a vicious rumour.
– Stay in bed all day and pretend it isn’t happening
– Or you can choose to embrace it. After all, being only 5 years away from 30 isn’t that bad… right?

7. What to do if you drank too much water?
Stay near a toilet would be my advice. You’re going to be needing it. You could also try eating some mashed potatoes or something – that might soak up the excess.

Humans need naps too!

I’m very tired today. So tired, in fact, that I found myself feeling jealous of my employer’s dog this afternoon. Because she got to sleep in her little dog bed while I was proofreading an incredibly boring financial report. It would have been enough to put me asleep even if I hadn’t already been tired. Sometimes it’s soooo difficult being human!

A rather odd search appeared in my blog statistics today. Hundreds of people have found me in the past by searching google for some variation on the theme of “I am bored”, “things to do when bored” and “how to stop being bored”. However, today is the first time I’ve had someone find me by searching for “what to do when you aren’t bored”. What a strange question. Surely if you’re not bored you already have something interesting to do? Or could it be that this person wants to be bored? Perhaps they’ve had enough of being happy and interested and now want to try out boredom for a while. Just plain odd, that’s what it is. Almost as odd as the person yesterday who was searching for “Cambois Environmental Agency”. All I can say to that is Cambois has an environmental agency? And, perhaps even more importantly, why??

Cake and stockings

I made a cake last night to take into work with me*. You see, tomorrow is the last day of my internship. In Germany, when there’s an event, the person whose birthday or whatever it is expected to bring in something yummy for the rest of their workplace. You have to bake it yourself as well mind you – a friend of mine’s colleagues were most disappointed when she took in a cake from the bakers. I’ll never understand why on my birthday I have to give other people something, but never mind. When in Rome and all that. So today I took in a cake. It was another one of those ridiculously hot days where the sun was already unbearable by 8am and by the time I was half way to work I was already roasting. Who knew a simple marble cake could be so heavy? But never mind, both cake and I made it to work in one piece and it seemed to go down well with my colleagues. A brilliant result I’d say.

Oh, and here’s something that amused me today. I was doing a translation about stockings (the black lacy kind, not the ones you get a Christmas). Nothing too difficult, just a few random terms to be printed on the packaging. One of the items on the list was “halterlose Strümpfe”. Hmm, how would we say that in English? I wondered. Not being a stocking wearer I tend not to spend much time reading the packaging for them. An idea occurred to me and I decided to see whether the internet thought it existed. So I type the words “halterless stockings” into Google. A few hits did come up, but right at the top was that question Google asks you when it thinks you might have spelled something wrong…
Did you mean: “shelterless stockings”.
Umm, no I didn’t actually, but I’m quite intrigued now. What on Earth are shelterless stockings? Are those the ones that manage to get lost in the washing machine, leaving you with one half of hundreds of pairs? Are there shelterless socks as well? The mind really does boggle! (In case you were wondering, the actual translation was “hold ups” or in American English “garterless stockings”. I don’t suppose you were wondering though… unless you’re as ignorant about the world of stockings as I am).

*Actually, Jan did most of the actual making of the cake. I just measured stuff… and managed to get it out of the oven on time.

Things to do when you’re bored

My stats are telling me that those people that aren’t enquiring about Joachim Loew (please can someone explain to me what the obsession is?) mostly find my blog via Google searches for things like “I am bored”, “I’m getting bored” or “so bored now”. Unfortunately my blog isn’t very interesting, so all these poor bored Googlers probably went away feeling even worse than when they’d started. But just in case any of them does decide to stop for long enough to actually read something on my blog I thought I’d compile a list of things to do when you’re bored.

  1. Read a book. If you’re not normally much of a reader try getting hold of a book that a film you like was based on. The books are almost always as good if not better than the film. Stephen King’s The Green Mile for example is an excellent book, and one of the few I’ve read where the film actually stuck to the plot. If you’re female and enjoyed the film Beaches, see if you can get hold of the book by Iris Rainer Dart. Much, much, much better than the film.
  2. Go somewhere. If you have a bike go for ride, otherwise take a walk. Even in the smallest of villages there’s always somewhere you can walk. Take your mp3 player with you if you like and listen to your favourite music while breathing in the fresh air. Maybe you’ll find something else to do on your travels – a football game you can join in or a new shop to look in. You won’t be bored anymore and you’ll be getting some exercise. Double bonus!
  3. If you can afford it, try getting on the train or bus and going somewhere new for a day trip. You could even go by car if you have one. Take a trip to a nearby town that you’ve nevr been to before, take a look around and see what’s there. Or go to the zoo or sealife centre. Always fun, no matter what your age.
  4. Learn a new language. There are plenty of websites where you can learn the basics for free. To start you off here’s the URL for the BBC languages website: http://www.bbc.co.uk/languages/
    If you don’t feel like learning one language properly try learning four words in a few languages: Hello, goodbye, please, thank you. Brilliant for impressing the locals on your next holiday! They’ll be so much more friendly if you can thank them in their own language…
  5. If you’re not interested languages there are plenty of other skills out there waiting for you to discover them. You could learn to knit, or the art of paper folding or even teach yourself to play an instrument. The possibilities are endless.
  6. Start a blog. Write about whatever comes into your head. Before you know it loads of time will have passed.
  7. Bake a cake. Always fun, and you get to eat it afterwards. The only part that isn’t so fun is cleaning up the mess you make…
  8. Write a letter. It’s all about e-mails these days and hardly anyone sends proper post anymore. Sending snail mail is guaranteed to brighten up someone’s day as well as making you feel less bored.
  9. Play a game. A board game or a card game. Get your whole family to join in. Games nights are a lot of fun.
  10. Take an Open University course. They have so many there’s sure to be something you’ll like!
  11. Go out ans get some exercise. Join a gym or a football club. Take salsa lessons. Go jogging or take up yoga. There’s bound to be some kind of sporting activity you’ll like doing.
  12. If you really can’t think of anything better to do watch a DVD or play a computer game.
  13. Take a nap. You can’t be bored when you’re sleeping…

That’s all for now. I’m sure there are many more things I do when I’m bored, but right now I can’t think of them. If anyone else has any suggestions feel free to leave them in my comments. Maybe the next time a bored person stumbles across my blog they’ll find something more interesting to do than telling Google how bored they are…

Big fat pig

I must admit I’m totally fascinated by the things type into Google. Yesterday, for example, someone found my blog by asking the question “How do I make my crap smell worse?”. Why?? Surely pooh smells bad enough without people trying to make it worse! And what would a person hope to achieve with that anyway? It’s all very strange.

I’m sure my belly has expanded to double its usual size. I’ve just had a massive dinner. I made an Aldi potato bake thing, adding my own bacon bits, herbs and cheese. Usually Jan and I would have one between us, but as he’s not here I had to eat it all on my own. I’ve had to undo the button on my trousers cos I was feeling so uncomfortable. Basically I’m just a fat pig… or rather a pig who should be fat. Somehow I’ve managed to stay skinny up to now, which is amazing, but I shall have to start doing some exercise soon or I’ll blow up like a balloon.

Right, I have to go and do something about my room now. The mess is slowly starting to take over. It’s my crap housewife gene getting the better of me again!
Oh, and speaking of being housewifey… I’m looking for a recipe that involves coconut milk and fresh ginger Would anyone like to recommend one?