Aug. 24th, 2017 12:54 pm
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If I was a communist and a German citizen, whom should I have voted for?

3 communist parties!
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Very typical ad I found in our neighborhood.

A long story with photos of tenants looking for a flat. (This is an exception - usually there are no photos, or story is shorter).
I bet they won't find a flat..
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I got a weird problem with a neighbour, that demonstrates a typical German way of communication. My wife needed some room in a trunk of our car for shopping, so she removed a folding stroller from the trunk, and left it at our parking lot. (The parking place at our building's underground parking that belongs to us). In couple of hours Yulia came back, and did not find a stroller. She looked around and found it ~20 meters away, at some other neighbor's parking lot.

In the evening, I found a letter (with date, name and signature) under my car's wiper:

"Hi, I accidentally rolled over a stroller that was lying at your parking lot. Now I have some scratches on my car, if the stroller belongs to you, please call me +49NNN to discuss the compensation."

I wonder what I do next, obviously my German is not good enough to discuss these matters over phone, and Yulia would not stay calm during the conversation (though even if it turns out to be our fault, we still have an insurance for that).

I am also very curious, what would happen in US and Russia in the same circumstances?
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In November, I went to German immigration authorities with a question.
- Hi, how can I do X?
- You should collect a pile of documents (here is the list, it could take couple of months), then once your documents are all OK you schedule an appointment with us.
- Can I schedule an appointment now and then make my documents?
- No, you should have all documents ready.
4 months later, I got all documents ready.
- May I schedule an appointment, I got all my documents ready.
- Sure, the next available date is December 2017.
- But some of my documents will expire till then! These appointments used to take 2 weeks to schedule two years ago!
- Right, you'll need to get these documents again. Now we have so much work with refugees, so the appointment lead time is now at least 8 months..
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For many many years, I keep seeing this job ad in linkedin emails.

It comes out every couple of months, and it goes on for more than 5 years I think. Sometimes it disappears for a while, and then it is back after ~6 months (probation period? ;)

So please someone qualified, do apply!
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I am saving my work travel budget like it is my own money ;) At Lufthansa, ticket Shannon->LHR->Munich was much more expensive than Shannon->LHR+LHR->Munich. But in the later case connection failure is my risk.

So I bought Shannon->LHR from another airline, and LHR->Munich from Lufthansa (the later costed ~100 euros), with connection time 8+ hours. The risk did not manifest, should I wait for 8 hours in the airport, or go to London for a short stroll? No, I asked a lady at Lufthansa transfer counter to get me on a next flight (whiсh I did not book because of the risk to miss it) for free, and just got a new boarding pass.
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Got an exam result: me 31/33, Yulia 33/33. I was making fun that she does not know all Bundeskanzler of 20th century and capitals of every Bundesland, but she scored better than me in the end.

The weird part was a history of east Germany. According to the test questions, here is what happened:
DDR was formed in 1949, then there was an uprising in 1953, Berlin wall was built in 1961, then it was destroyed in 1989, then in 1990 East Germany was dismissed. Yeah, also there was STASI there, and a national emblem had a hammer, rye and a compass on it.
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My experiences with German healthcare were positive, but there is one minor thing that still bothers me. (Nothing is perfect.)

Say we have a benign disease X that lasts 7 days (I didn't mean flue, but math could be similar there too), and in 10% of the cases it results in a complication Y that lasts 14 days. Not treating X costs 0, treating X case costs N, and treating Y case costs 3*N. Bingo, thinks an insurance company: 10%*3*N < N, and makes not treating X a default. That is all statistics, in reality it is much more complex but you get the idea.

For an individual, math is different: treating X means you recover in 5 days, not 7, and risk of Y goes down from 10% to 0.1%. So you gain ~3.4 days of productive life if you treat X.

What are the options in Germany? You can get private insurance, in that case they treat X. You can try treating X yourself, but you'll need to somehow get a prescription drug (thanks Aeroflot :). Also, there is another option, a strange one but it certainly works: you go to a doctor that does not know you, pretend that you are a tourist ready to pay cash, pay ~100 euros and get a treatment. This works if you have a non-German passport. I wonder how/if a German can use this loophole?
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Listening - 19/20
Reading - 25/25
Writing - 17/20
Speaking - 97/100
I expected speaking result to be around 75/100 which could be either fail or pass. So I am surprised that German I speak (turning everything to nominative, present tense, neutral gender) was scored that high.

p.s. I never ever studied German, just keep absorbing it from the air :)


Dec. 9th, 2016 06:02 pm
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Low light of the week -

Mushrooms I picked at our office and pickled are all gone.
Highlight - I took B1 test, but have to wait for a month for the outcome. DTZ B1 is much easier than Goethe Institut B1, but DTZ has not entirely consistent test process.
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From time to time I buy a UK edition of Wired magazine. It is so much like Компьютерра in late 90s-early 2000th!

Not anymore. Now there is a German version available, so all shops here stopped selling a UK version. Same happened with Maker magazine few months ago..
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I just took an 8 hours preparatory course for B1 exam, which included 3 test runs of an actual exam. I got very consistent score each time: 25/25 for reading (takes me 15 minutes out of 45), 18/20 for listening, 15/20 for writing, and 70/100 for speaking. To pass, I need 33/45 for listening and reading combined, 75 for speaking, and for writing I can just write an essay that consists of "F%^#k you!", get 0/20 and still pass.

Of course it is not fair. My current level of German is certainly A2, and the only reason I get nearly highest score on reading+listening is because reading+listening is merely an IQ test in disguise. So to get B1 you need to have either A2+140IQ, B1 and 110IQ, B2 and 100IQ, or C2 and 80IQ :) That simple!
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Every autumn, I collect these nuts on my way to work.

There are plenty of trees on my way through a park, and I never seen anybody eating these tasty nuts (except squirrels and pigeons.) Before I moved to Germany, I never seen these.
Read more... )
Alas, winter is coming and I find less nuts now.
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Interesting article. Nothing really new, but this passage is very interesting: "Deutschland hat zugesagt, in Litauen die Rolle der Führungsnation zu übernehmen. In Polen tun dies die USA, in Lettland die Kanadier und in Estland die Briten."

Reading Die Welt sometimes is more entertaining than Russia Today ;)
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Why 90% or my customers have R&D offices in the middle of nowhere?

I had a nice view from a hotel room, but to get there we had to drive for 1.5 hours on country roads after we left an autobahn. (Achievement unlocked - overtaking at 240kph and seeing a middle finger from a driver behind (he opened a window at 220kph, a brave man!)).

Now I am back, taking a 4U server from a rack to the lab and back and thinking about what if I was not 72Kg/182cm but a bit slimmer built? A 4U server with an open case sounds like a small airplane starting... Good I am alone in the lab now.
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Just a coincidence - I read this post and took this picture on Marienplatz:
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Julia just told me about an encounter with a typical german gentleman, ~50 y.o. She parked near his house (parking was allowed there), and he was staring at the car. She asked if everything is alright, and told him she will drive away in 10 minutes, and that she can park elsewhere if he needs this parking place.

His answer was: "No, it is ok for you to park here. But you see, you wheels are not perfectly aligned! Not good." Front right wheel was about 10cm further from a curb than rear right wheel...
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I am not very fond of driving. So next time we go north we can just take a train... with our car ;

Like this gentleman on a Porsche who took a train from Berlin or Hamburg and arrived to Munich in the morning. Cool service, is it?
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I am in MUC airport now, waiting for my flight to Duesseldorf. Just had a funny moment recently.

When I was standing in a line for security control, two lines were merging before the X-ray machine. It was zip merge, as usual, and ppl in the end of the line were standing behind each other, located slightly closer towards a line they were coming from. When I was first in the line, I was invited to the X-ray machine, and then immediately a member of security stuff asked me to step back and give way to a passenger who was standing behind me in the line. I complied, and eventually asked why break a zip merge?

The answer was, I quote: "yes it is zip merge, but men should yield for wifes, so wifes have priority." Needless to say, my wife was not with me at the moment ;)

p.s. confusing "woman" and "wife" word is very common for German native speakers, even when their English is good.
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