I don’t know what to write anymore…

…somehow I am losing the ability of slicing my life into little blogable episodes. Well, actually, I’m not losing it altogether but the episodes I can think of have become so small that they are hardly worth posting.

I have, however, (at least I think so) gathered enough episodes to make for blog entry.

Working for ABB is a great thing. It is really, really nice to do some hard, honest physical labour in-between studying and thinking. A great feature are the actual tests. Especially the “internal arc tests”. Imagine a circuit breaker switch in a big housing (approx. 2 by 2 by 2 meters) which is to be tested for the operator’s safety. In case of an internal fault (an arc) there must be no harm to persons in the vicinity. So what is done is the following: a tiny wire in the housing (which provides a short-circuit) is loaded with 40 kA (40,000 amps – your kettle probably needs 10 to 15 amps) evaporates and therefore leads to an arc. Due to the heat the air inside the housing expands and pressure builds up. The housing has to withstand that pressure. It is possible to think of this test as a crash test for switchgear. You destroy something on purpose to see whether people operating it will be hurt. Man, those are bangs… KA-BOOOM!! (It’s the child in me that likes this job so much…)

Another thing is with the newspaper. Due to a lack of affluence I had to cancel the liberal, slightly left-wing daily “Süddeutsche Zeitung”. Instead Tanja and I now receive the weekly “Die Zeit” which is also liberal and very intellectual. Well, that’s not the point here. We also ordered a trial subscription of “Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung” which is a less liberal, slightly conservative daily. All three are highly recmommendable papers living up to the highest standards of journalism. After 3 years of left wing journalism, however, it is really hard to read a conservative newspaper – even though I have recently found myself becoming more conservative than I had ever been before. But it is nice (or annoying, depending on the mood) to observe how the same pros and cons, the same facts about a topic can be arranged in different ways, which accordingly create the different political stance of newspaper articles about the very same phenomenon. It’s probably a good thing to change newspapers every now and then to remain aware of this.

Thirdly, I now know the topic of my final oral exam in English. Well, the literature part of the final oral exam. It will be two cross-sections of American literature. First: “America in non-fiction”, including the following works:

Edward W. Said: Humanism and Democratic Criticism; Mark Twain: Life on the Mississippi; Ralph W. Emerson: Self-Reliance; Nature; Henry D. Thoreau: Walden, or Life in the woods; Hamilton, Madison & Jay: Federalist papers; Benjamin Franklin: The autobiography of Benjamin Franklin AND EITHER Henry Luce: The American century OR Thorstein Veblen: The theory of the leisure class.

And this is only the first cross-section. The other is: “War in American fiction” and will include:

Ambrose Bierce: The coup de grâce, The affair at coulter’s notch, One of the missing, An occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge, One kind of officer; Joseph Heller: Catch 22; John Dos Passos: Three soldiers; Kurt Vonnegut: Slaughterhouse-five; Ernest Hemingway: A farewell to arms; William Faulkner: Soldiers’ pay; Norman Mailer: The naked and the dead; James F. Cooper: The last of the Mohicans.

Quite a lot of reading. I’m not sure whether I should be happy or afraid. On the one hand I’m looking forward to this great input of scholarly and literary expertise to my humble knowlege container. On the other hand I am frightened by the sheer amount of reading. Fortunately the exam will only be in January.

So far so good, this is about all the news I’ve got for you now.


Multicultural Cologne and 1st day of work

Saturday evening we invited to Barbecue. Another family from our house (they are both German but she is of Jordanian descent) and a couple from Cologne (he is German and she is Spanish). When I was on my way to the Turkish butcher who sold me some pork-free sausages (lamb and turkey) – because the Jordanian woman is Muslim and doesn’t eat porc – Tanja received a phone call from Brussels. Daniel and Anne-Sophie (he is Italian and she is French) had the weekend off and decided to visit us. So we ended up eating a mixture of Turkish and German sausage, German and Spanish salad and talking German, English and Spanish. Cool. I like such challenges to my linguistic skills. My English is okay, Spanish I understand somewhat but don’t speak. I should practice more…

Monday was my first day of work. I think I will enjoy the work at ABB’s testing facilities. My tasks will include preparing tests (connecting the DUT, adjust and connect the capacitor bank, inductor bank and resistors), minor maintenance tasks, henchman to the skilled workers and, during testing, hacking in the measurements into the PC. This seems to be very much the kind of job I will appreciate. Diverting and challenging. Moreover, the colleagus seem to be pretty nice as well.

Friday and Saturday I will attend a seminar on intercultural communication I’m looking forward to. And the weather is marvellous, so I feel quite well right now.

take a deep breath…

It is incredible how time is flying and how many things are happening…

The semester break was nuts. First there was an exam about Electrical Machines. In the preparation I proved Darwin’s theory wrong, as it was the first time someone who was stupid was advantaged for being stupid. Due to a mistake in the administration they had changed the room and time of the exam (from noon to 8 am) and so I arrived AFTER the exam. (I hadn’t checked properly). But the people in the institute said that it was okay because they couldn’t email me and that it could not be expected that the students check the announcements every so and so often. So they gave me another date a week later – and a week more of preparation…

In the two weeks after this exam I wrote an essay about standardization in Germany’s vocational education. Then I celebrated St Patrick’s day and got unbelievably wasted.

After St Patrick’s day I plunged into the preparation of the very final very oral exam in electrical engineering which took place on the day my friends from Sweden and England arrived in Köln for a nice weekend of party, sightseeing and talking in English. I was convinced I would be very ill on the monday they left because of the jam-packed schedule and the overwork. But I’m still in good health. And the new semester has now begun. No rest for the wicked!

I can hardly believe how fast time flies. Maybe it’s the two hours I spend in the train (almost) daily? Is it the fact that living together with Tanja was the best idea since the invention of the dishwasher? Or does coffee do strange things with your mind?

Which brings me to something else: when we celebrated Tobias’ stag night (and he’s married now, for almost one month…oh dear) we went to the Jameson’s Irish Pub here in Köln and I performed in the Karaoke competiton. When the Swedes/English visitors were here we went there again and complete strangers said “Hi Max!” when they saw me. I asked “how come you know my name?” and they said “well, you look like someone who comes here regularly, whose name is Max!”.

Well, I’m not sure. Have I, on the first occasion in the Jameson’s, made such a fool of myself that they remembered my name? (They call out the names of people who do Karaoke). Is there a doppelgänger, who also frequents the Jameson’s? Or is it as Tobias suggested: that I have an alias who takes over when I am unconscious during the nights, going out to party in the Cologne pubs all night? That would explain why I’m often so tired…

Anyway, my life is indeed far away from boring. I don’t even find the time to update my blog regularly…