tger greenhaddock: March 2006

Friday, March 31, 2006

Lies, Lies and more Lies!

Two days ago we popped into the local Marburg T-com office to see how our DSL application was progressing. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that it wasn’t. The woman told me that for technical reasons DSL was not available at my address. I requested to know exactly what these reasons were, because a T-com woman said last month that it was possibly. She gave me a bullshit excuse and I demanded to see her manager. The manager stared to give me a bullshit excuse as well so I gave him a lesson in Telecommunications. It was apparent very quickly that he didn’t know the difference between his arse and a hole in the ground. He said a T-com tech would phone me later in the day. This I didn’t believe, and of course the phone never rang.

So the upshot of this is that nobody in the whole Neubaugebiet (new housing area) can have DSL. The reason they say is that the area is fed by fibre optic. But the wiring into my house is copper, so the transition from SDH to PDH has to occur. Otherwise I wouldn’t be able to use the phone. I hate incompetence and stupidity, and T-com have it by the bucket loads. I have to speak to these arseholes on a daily basis when I am at work, having to do so in my own free time is not my idea of fun.

On the same day the new shower finally arrived to be installed. Apparently the production was held up because of snow! (Like they really make these things outside). I wonder, do I have the word Gullible tattooed on my forehead or what! Then to make things sweeter the installation had to stop because a part was missing. We were promised that the part would be shipped express and would be here yesterday. It hasn’t arrived. Why do I feel like Neville Chamberlain after his infamous meeting with Mr Hitler? – answers on a postcard please.

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Thursday, March 30, 2006

A swallow doth not a summer make

Mrs H and I went to the gym yesterday morning. The plan was to do some light aerobic exercise. I hate plans, so we went for the fat burning option and did the complete training program. I was knackered and could feel I was not back to full strength yet. Of course I wasn’t to know that later when the Juniorette came home from school she would want to go for a ‘little’ cycle ride.

This was our first bike ride of the season, so we planned not to go very far (I’m not very good with plans). So after checking our bikes and pumping air into our tyres we set off. The Juniorette announced she could cycle for ever, but I reminded her she has to save enough energy to get home. Some lessons need to be learnt the hard way.

We had a lot of fun, but our round trip in the end was 25km, and both the Juniorette & I were both tired, and suffering from saddle sore. It rained on our way back home so we got soaking wet, and the Juniorette suffered her first puncture. Luckily it was a slow puncture, so every once and a while we had to stop to re-inflate the tyre. She battled on and now can’t wait for our next trip, where she wants to go further and try and beat our record of 40km which we did last summer. Talking of summer we saw our first swallows today, which is always a good sign that summer will be along at some stage!

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Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Tom Dick

I was off sick from work on Monday and Tuesday. I was feeling a bit feverish and was aching all over. Fortunately it has gone as quickly as it appeared. I am not feeling 100% today but I should be up to a light visit to the gym. It has been raining quite a lot over the last few days in Marburg and two nights ago we had our first thunder storm of the year, and boy did it rain. My water tank is now standing at 83% and the fertiliser is definitely watered into the lawn.

I planted a lot of seeds last week in the propagators, and so far the Zucchini, tomatoes and lettuce have germinated. In the garden I found a bright lime green caterpillar on our thyme bush (no idea what species), the gooseberry and blackcurrant bushes have leaves, and Mickey our tomcat is making a serious dent in the butterfly population – he catches and eats them.

The Juniorette’s dance class put on a little show earlier in the week for the parents which Mrs H attended. Her class is definitely more orientated towards ballet nowadays, and the Juniorette really seems to enjoy it. Her football training conflict has been solved. She will now train with the F-Jugend squad until the autumn when she along with the older members of the G-Jugend will move up to the F-Jugend anyway. A result, just like Arsenals win over Juventus Turin last evening in the Champions League.

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Friday, March 24, 2006

Raking it in

My days off have been rather busy due to the sunny spring weather. This has meant a couple of days in the garden mainly scarifying the lawn (raking out dead growth) and fertilising the lawn and box hedging. It was against the clock so to speak, as rain was forecast for today. For once the weather forecasters were spot on. I’ve also been catching up on lots of little jobs around the house that I have put off for a while. One of the more interesting ones was translating the results of my last blood test in January.

I’ve visited the gym and sauna, and I must admit I am not feeling quite as tired as when I first started visiting the fitness studio. Plus I think my general level of fitness has improved. I know my weight and blood pressure have reduced, and when I have my blood checked again in a couple of months I am hoping that my cholesterol levels will have gone down as well.

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Monday, March 20, 2006

Spring is in the air

Last Sunday was the last indoor football tournament of the season for the Juniorette. From next month its back to playing outside on grass. The Juniorette had a cracker of a tournament. Her team won the event, and she top scored with three goals. I missed the tournament as I am working nights, but Mrs H reports that the Juniorette played superbly. It all came together for her.

Unfortunately, after the tournament it was announced the weekly football training session would be moving to Mondays, but this clashes with the Juniorette’s dancing lessons. So it looks like dancing will have to be rescheduled. She wants to change to Irish dancing soon, but this clashes with her Swimming club on Fridays. What a headache! – Hopefully we can somehow resolve this issue. But she has made it clear that she does not want to give up swimming or football.

The official start of spring is tomorrow, and the weather actually felt spring like in Marburg today. The temperature actually made it into double figures for the first time this year. I saw my first butterfly, which was a Tortoiseshell, so hopefully with some warmer days under our belts we will start to see further signs of spring.

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Saturday, March 18, 2006

The Matrix

A few days ago the Haddock family went to the Cinema to watch Die Wilder Kerle 3. It’s a kid’s football fantasy film and has been very popular in Germany (as were the preceding two films). We all enjoyed the film. Afterwards we popped into Media Markt and picked up the Zoo Tycoon computer game, for the Juniorette and I to try out when we got home. Whilst playing the game at home I quickly discovered that if you let the lions out of their enclosure they attack and eat the zoo visitors. I thought this was humorous. The Juniorette however got upset. I explained that it’s only a computer game, to which she replied, that we might actually be in a computer game ourselves. Outstanding stuff from a 7 year old. It took me a college education and some mind altering drugs to start thinking like that!

The last couple of days we have had the builders back in to lay the granite on our inside cellar steps. It looks pretty good. When the weather finally warms up they will return to do the same with the outside steps as well.

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Tuesday, March 14, 2006

The new anchor girl

The Juniorette and Mrs H went to a Children’s Museum in Speyer last weekend. I unfortunately had to work. The Museum this winter has had a children’s media exhibition running showing how many of the kids shows shown on the kiddie TV channel KIKA are made. Apparently it was really interesting and the Juniorette now knows all about blue/green screens, and she got chance to read the kids news on the TV show LOGO. This was only simulated but it was shown on TV screens around the museum.

The Juniorette reads the news

Today the sun shone all day, so it was time to get outside and chop some wood for the wood burner and start some work on the garden. I pulled up some of the dead plants and tidied up a bit. It was good to get into the garden again. Nights are still very cold, but days are hopefully getting a bit warmer.

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Saturday, March 11, 2006

Getting old

Last weekend Mrs H took the Juniorette to a book reading and signing event in Marburg by the author Knister. He read one of his Hexe Lilli series books that the Juniorette is fond of. She has read a couple of these books which is quite amazing since she only started to learn to read when she started school last September. But she is a little bookworm and we always have to remind her at bedtime not to read for too long. But we are not too strict with this as long as she can still get up the next morning for school. I believe reading to be the gateway to knowledge and understanding of the world we live in, so I will encourage her to read as much as possible.

In other news, this week I discovered my first grey pubic hair……well there goes the neighbourhood. This aging malarkey is starting to become annoying. I’ve often thought there should be a Haynes Manual of the human body, explaining thinks like when you reach thirty, hairs will start to grow out of your nose, and then out of your ears. I’m wondering what will happen next! - Nobody tells you these things when you are growing up – I guess that would spoil the surprise!

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Tuesday, March 07, 2006

How the war was won

The Juniorette asked me yesterday why I drank so much English tea. I flippantly remarked that drinking tea is what helped the British Tommy win the war. She rather coolly replied that England only won the war because of help from America. I was stunned, but then quickly regained my composure to inform her that it was the quick thinking, bravery and wit of Die Englanders that won the war, and the fact that we made our main attacks when the Germans were having Kaffee und Kuchen. I don’t think she believed me.

I wonder where she gets here info from. I don’t think they have covered the war at school yet. After all, she is only in the first class. I must make it a priority to make sure she hears the English version of how the war was won.

Even though the weather is still decidedly wintery in Germany, signs that spring is on its way are all around. One of the major signs for me is when then Cranes return. Over the past few days I have seen and heard a couple of thousand of them flying over Marburg on their way north. Surely the warm weather cannot be that far behind.

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Sunday, March 05, 2006

Why the Haddock is green

Commenter’s have asked why the Haddock is green, well hopefully the following will explain. Many years ago I lived and worked in Hong Kong, and whilst I was there I picked up a rather nasty stomach bug which resulted in me being allergic to Haddock. If I ate Haddock I would be on the loo within minutes, and then I wouldn’t be leaving the small room for quite sometime. Haddock was the worlds most powerful laxative for me. This meant that visiting Scotland was always fun as I would forget that fish & chips there meant Haddock and not cod!

Nowadays I can eat Haddock without fear of following through. Ironically I was cured in Egypt, the land of the terrible tummy. After taking local medication for a severe case of the trots I was cured. I discovered later that this medication is banned in Europe as it is not deemed safe – but it did the trick for me. It basically killed all bacteria in my gut, good and bad.

Years later Haddock became an internet identity for me, of which Green is the latest incarnation. The Green relates to my interest in gardening, ornithology, and the environment in general.

So that ladies and gentlemen is why the Haddock is green.

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Friday, March 03, 2006

Once apon a time

Twenty years ago this week I landed on the South Atlantic island of Ascension to begin a 3.5 year stint of working at the Cable & Wirless Satellite Earth Station. This site provided the island’s international communications and also supported the NASA tracking station. Ascension Island is situated just below the equator, midway between Africa and South America. It is a very small island, just 36 square miles, and has 44 dormant volcanos. It is essentially a rock, but it was my home for over 3 years.

I had many varied experiences during my time there and met a lot of interesting people. I learnt to Scuba dive, caught a fish heavier than my own body weight, got chased by a sexually aroused donkey, lost my driving license, broke international sanctions and bought a boat from South Africa, dived with sharks, spent a night in jail, played a lot of golf on the worst golf course in the world, and drank an incredible amount of beer.

The island has a hot sunny climate, and I lived only a few hundred meters from a deserted shell sand beach where green turtles laid their eggs in season. I fished most weeks both from my boat and from the shore. I Scuba dived, played golf, and played football as often as possible, and as I look back 20 years later on it all seems rather idyllic. But it was a rock, a very small rock, where you never really had any true privacy, and in the end 3.5 years was just a little too long. Even so I would like to return one day to see how the place has changed.

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