Category: Places

Safety First

Pointless, boring story ahead.

The first man came in the late morning and marked the positions. The second one carried a box with devices and a laptop. He sat on the floor and busily scanned codes in, marked the devices, sorted them and left, remarking that they’d be “scharf” now, loaded. The third hauled a large power drill and fixed the devices, all three in less than seven minutes. He left with a grin and gave me a xerocopied instructional paper.
You may already guessed it, venerated reader, I am talking about smoke detectors that were installed in my rooms. All for safety.
What I do not understand is that these things must be so terribly ugly.

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They successfully searched for the ugliest smoke detector available in Europe.
They successfully searched for the ugliest smoke detector available in Europe.

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They look like anti-personal-mines.
I chatted with my neighbour who is living in a pretty large appartement. They had six of these things bolted to the ceiling. Also another neighbour some floors up found six of these design disasters decorating her flat. So I wondered when in a friend’s flat of the same design only five abominations were installed. I met laptop man in the lift when he carried a new box of devices and said something along the line that they surely fitted some hundreds in this large appartement house. He was a little upset and complained that he had been told to bring more than 300 of the things, but he only had 200 mounted, at the utmost. If it would have been better organised they’d be at home already.

Yesterday I walked past the janitor’s office, found the door open and him sitting at his desk. I looked, he waved me in, kicked a chair in front of the desk and asked “What’s up ?”
I expressed my astonishment about the not mounted safety device and the lack of coordination. He rolled his eyes and explained that laptop man & friends were clearly instructed to nail a smoke detector at the ceiling of every room that is possibly a sleeping room, and in the exits or hallways (“Fluchtwege”). Of course not in bathrooms and kitchens, obviously. Laptop man decided to install the things only in rooms that right now are used as sleeping rooms. The large room in my friend’s flat is actually used as a bureau – no bed, no smoke detector.
And while they were at it, they ignored the basement level completely (six appartements) and were busily searching for the “Dachgeschoss”, the attic, that is miraculously not built.
There will be another date to fix the mess. It is not clear whether laptop man & friends will do this.
While I sat there I asked him what would happen if I heard such an alarm ? “I mean : Thursday morning, 09:30, I’m back from my morning drive, ready to sleep an hour. All my neighbours are at work or at the university, usually I am alone on the floor. I hear an alarm two doors down. I knock at the door, no reaction. My janitor is not reachable, he has to take care for other objects too, some miles away. Even if you’d be here, you are not allowed to open the door.” “That would be burglary”, he chipped in.
“I call the firefighters. They go in, false alert. Do I pay the operation ?” “Nice question”, he said, “especially because it was not asked before.” “So what does my landlord say ?”
He thought for a minute and told me that if he would ask this in the centre office they’d kick him and tell him to mind his own business. Very nice shop morale.
As he knows his company, they would pass the question to the firefighters.
He pulled out a file card and called the village firefighters, 70something.
No one reachable, even after several tries.
He called the village administration and asked for the number of the force – 70something. And, after complaining that it is useless, he got the number of a portable.
Which is not working. We tried two times : Number not taken, not connected to a customer.
“Better not burn here” he said. “Commander’s out for lunch”, I agreed.
So he called the emergency number.
“Yes, relax, no alarm” – and he told his story and asked the question. Their answer was clear : They are the professional force. If someone calls them they need to know where the emergency is, then they alarm the local force. The local force deals with it and decides whether they need professional help. The cost is not their business, that is between the local force and the local administration. For this village, they call 70something.
“Thank you.”
Two middle-aged blokes with too much time to spare and a telephone.
All in the name of safety, of course.

… bumblegrumble …

Ach … the clothes are in the machine which is quietly rumbling away. The room is cleared, reasonably, at least one can turn around without brushing stuff from tables – as if I had tables here – or move without raising plumes of dust. Things necessary are bought, even some unnecessary stuff, no need to go out then. Dishes washed, kitchen surfaces cleared, oh what a difference this makes ; bottles brought out.
Some things dealt with via computer, so even the desk appears to be less cramped, less paper.
Time to do something serious, like write this damn article. “… you’ll feel even better once you’ve got your article done …”, as IDV remarks absolutely aptly in the comments to the previous post, because only afterwards I can turn to the flotsam & jetsam. Good to learn btw that IDV’s blog is now reachable again, seemingly he has sorted his French troubles out.
“Write an article” – pfff, sounds a bit pompous, doesn’t it ?!
It’s just a very small scribble about a place here in the village. Promised the terrible text months ago to the friendly lady who runs this historical working group (“Arbeitskreis”) that prepares some notes about the must-see-attractions of the village. All in connection with the “Landesgartenschau” that will be held in the neighbouring “city”, and from what the adjacent villages wish to benefit in the form of visitors, tourists etc. This leads to general cleaning and brushing-up, planting of trees, revamping of garden benches, the demarcating of foot trails for avid wanderers including signs so that they don’t get lost in the Franconian wilderness. And when they stand at attractive points of interest they can point their smart phones on a sign with one of these squares that have a special name I forgot, get an internet connection and a smart voice (sometimes mine) explains what the wanderer sees – for example the “Roman Bridge“. Or tells what there is to know about the fountains – I happily got rid of this assignment – or the church, the library, you get the idea.
And I am stuck with the most unrewarding topic imaginable, even worse than the cemetery : Ein Schießplatz ! A military shooting range. Good GOd … I have a problem.
I can not think of one way to make this thing “attractive”. Especially because it is not used now for some years – the visitors will stand in front of a carefully closed metal gate decorated with a bit of rusty barbed wire – of the Nato kind with razor-blades, not the original German one.
The adjacent nice city on the banks of the river Main is today advertising itself with “Baroque” and “wine” – both things are fitting. But the city always had a military side too – remember that the most eye-catching building when you approach the town, is after all a fortress sitting on a hill over the civilian settlement. Through the nineteenth century, as Bavarian town, there was a garrison. And of course the military built-up in the 1930s did not pass the baroque beauty : New barracks, a large new military hospital, some bunkers were built in the area of the city – and a shooting range for small arms, Handfeuerwaffen (weapons you shoot while you hold them in your hands, like pistols and rifles, single action, half-automated, fully automated) was constructed on the Eastern area of this village.
On the Western side was an artillery shooting range that ignored the village’s borders. Now and then the cannoneers missed their targets and fired their grenades into the villagers’ gardens, GOd they had to learn somewhere, n’est-pas ?
The Schießplatz was used by the German Wehrmacht (“Where the fascist forces learnt their trade”- ?) until the end of the Wehrmacht. The place was put in use again by the Bundeswehr sometimes in the late fifties (I think) and at some (unknown) point taken over by the American Forces, until they relocated, reduced their forces and military bases in the whole of Germany and Middle Europe and regrouped worldwide. Then the Schießplatz was handed back via the German Federal State to the community, the village I live in – and since this day the village wonders what to do with that installation : Mountain bike fun arena ? Airsoft-blamm-splatter arena ? Just ignore and let it become a habitat for what-ever-wants-to-live-there ? No clue at all. Accepted all round is only that the public coffers are empty and that private housing is out of question.
And what do I tell the happy wanderers ? Ach …

It’s Dark

Thank GOd it’s Frayday. Just returned from my morning drive, one more turn in the early afternoon, and yahoo ! that is it ; the engine will be started on the morning of the 15th again, not one second earlier.
I do not know what made this week so exhausting – the snow ? It was not that bad, the wind was a bit scary sometimes. But the job itself is all bearable. What is not bearable at times is the foolish gibberish of some colleagues. Sometimes I wonder where these people have their brains, especially when they talk about “die” / “them”, referring to asylum seekers & refugees.
I do not like the word “Flüchtlingskrise”, perhaps best translated as “refugee crisis” – humans are no crisis.
What we see is a crisis of the European idea ; the rise of nationalism throughout Europe with a special emphasis on Eastern Europe and the post-socialist societies (where they happily chop democracy) ; a strong current of xenophobia ; partly openly racist and even neo-fascist or nationalsocialist movements in Germany and elsewhere : Only some days ago a police chief in Saxony spoke about “Pogromstimmung” in some areas there.
Some of my colleagues, the “hard-working” “salt of the earth” – I hope you get the sarcasm – have seemingly no ability (or will) to differentiate. Asked who “they” / “die”, would be it’s Auslänner, Asylande, Neecher – all the same. The sentiment is partly sheer enviousness (” ‘they’ do get everything”, “even i-phones”), or blank racism (” ‘they’ are too dumb”, ” ‘they’ just want our women”, ” ‘they’ never have learned to work”, ” ‘they’ are of no value” etc.), combined with the preference for very simple “explanations” (“Merkel ist schuld !” / “It’s all Merkel’s fault !”) and “solutions” (“Grenze zu – alle in’s Lager !” / “Borders shut, all in camps !”).
All in all it is depressing dumbness. No wonder that “AfD” and “pegida” & Co. enjoy a large clientele – the far-right “AfD” reached 12 % at the last Sonntagsfrage (“If there were elections next Sunday, which party would you vote for ?”), nationwide.
I never thought that I’d say this publicly about a conservative German chancellor, but GOd bless Angela Merkel, may she stay strong and healthy.
I only hope that the brutish simplemindedness of these zombies will not prevail.

Sunday Music

I look up from the desk, over the room and through the window. And instead of the slope of a hill with some trees to the right and on top, and vineyards to the left, I see only a white flat, no deepness ; occasionally greyish-white objects swirl in front of the window-pane – perhaps LAWSONs “zig-zag & swirl” wasn’t so foolish ?
While driving through a village this morning I saw a public temperature indicator and learned that it had 9 °C minus, winter finally arrived. The vehicle drives pretty well on ice and snow, but the engine finds it hard to heat the cabin ; an additional heating system is fitted, but one can watch it gulping down the driving juice – anyway, the alternative would be sneezing kids and a grumpy co-driver, so let’s stoke, weaklings …
After some to & fro the big white monstermasher accepted the new operating system – no fear I will not bore you with technicalities. It does things a bit different from windows, takes notably longer to start, but when it’s fully loaded it works fine, wie der Herr so’s G’scherr. This means that I’ll be slowly trundeling back to normal regarding my online-habits, all I have to do is re-collect some of the three hundred or so bookmarks I lost. The computer works remarkably silent. Sadly the BIOS showed no inclination to accept the wonderful ssd-harddrive, but I do not give up on this – ha, take this ! Also the sound needs improvement, at least I hear the start-up & start-down dingle-dongle, so the speakers do work.
Let’s travel a bit through time and space : As antidote to the white freeze outside let’s visit the sunny India of 1953.
I hope you like it, and may we all have a relaxed and easy week ahead !

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