Tag: trullern

Admin

Through my life I had to deal with different types of administrations in different roles. As someone who worked for them or with them (never in them), and as someone outside who wants something. I hate the word Kunde in this context, what means “customer” : I am not a customer of an official stately administration, I am a citizen. And btw the word “Kunde” itself has some not so nice connotations, but this is not a seminar in German linguistics.
I had to deal with school and university administrations, I worked for an institute at an university ; I had to deal with different public authorities like the employment office, the finance authority, different municipal authorities, the federal state in some forms.
I always had to deal with humans, with people. The employment agency was totally useless, their efforts were not worth one shot of powder (this is the translation of the German expression nicht einen Schuß Pulver wert sein, what means simply it’s worthless as a blank, just bang, smoke & nothing), but the people were friendly, and explained to me what they were trying to do. Even when I could name webpages specialised on jobs for fools like me they never had heard about, the case handlers were interested when I could show them something they did not know. Of course they never had a job for me. With one exception I’d like to forget.
I never had problems with people in the finance authority, no matter in which role I had to deal with them. As you may know now I am hopeless with numbers & maths, I grindingly understood the basics of bookkeeping, but taxes & stuff ?
I always asked, and got useful answers in a friendly way. I wanted to understand the principles of the procedure and the file, and it was explained so that even my numberwise four-year-old-self could follow and fill out the correct forms etc. They even told me how to avoid to pay too much, what I could claim or plead. Frankly I think one does not need a “tax specialist” even for a small fortune, the people in the finance administrations know exactly what to do : Just ask them in a friendly way.
At the university and in municipal administrations I learned what is possible “if they want” – wenn sie wollen, dann können sie auch, if they want it, they get it : It is always a miracle to see what a seal works. You hit this thing under a piece of paper, and all of a sudden this is not just a simple contract or a declaration of something, it is a tool, and – depending on the seal – it may be a powerful tool.
The only administration I never had a successful relation with is the social services department. Frankly, they should all be shot. I never have met such a bunch of unqualified & mean idiots before, and I hope I will never have to deal with them again.
I once was “invited” to a talk to the head of one of their departments after I had complained about their decisions. One would expect a dialogue, an exchange of arguments, but I was given forty minutes of crap. This guy warbled on and on serving one stupid platitude after another while I sat with big eyes. After ten minutes I tried to intervene, but was brushed off briskly ; after another ten minutes I gave in, it was absurd theatre at its finest. To the end he looked down into a file in front of him and ganz nach Gutsherrenart barked “Ah, yer academic …” and for the first and last time in my life I was ashamed of my degree. I walked down to the entrance and when I reached the street I was ready to strangle Bambi with my bare hands.
Anyway – this is long years ago, what is it now ? I have to get money from them. There is no effing discussion about this, it is all clear, not even the meanest inch-pincer of them all can deny it.
And I spent the whole day, since I returned from my morning drive until I had to leave for my late afternoon work, with futile attempts to reach someone in this rotten administration who can do what has to be done. It is basically simple, just a bank money order – it is like trying to nail a pudding to the wall : No one is responsible, no one is reachable, some react as if I’d have touched them inappropriately – and yes, I think one should grab them by the balls and squeeze the Jeezas out.
Wish me luck, tomorrow is another go. It’s a long way to the shop if you want a sausage roll

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On German Politics

Schweinerisch is a word coined by fellow blogger Foam in her comment on the last post. It is a very nice word I think, and describes my feelings not only about some German politicos, but the whole political situation very well.
The German Federal Election (Ger., Eng., site) lies back several weeks, and the result was not as clear as one wished. Forming a new gouvernement is difficult, because of the initial refuse of the Social Democrats to form another coalition with the Conservatives, or to take part in a coalition at all. The head of the party, Mr Schulz, simply refused to play a role. So talks started between the Conservatives, the Green Party, and the oh so liberal FDP.
Just a note : The German word “liberal” or “liberale Partei” has nothing to do with the American fighting word liberal. I think what in Northern America is called liberal is mainstream here ; what we call “links”, left, is in the US seemingly understood as bordering to anarcho-communism, at least when I look at conservative media.
These talks were long and exhausting, and ended with a bang, when in a well-planned & oh-so-spontaneous action the head of the “liberal” party stormed out. And while he was still fighting to get into his jacket and walked the twenty meters or so to the waiting journalists, he miraculously put together a well-worded declaration. Accidentally those journos too drunk or too tired could have the hand-out too.
The only thing those liberal idiots proved is that they do not care about the state, the parliament or anything else : All they care about is themselves.
May they rot in hell.
Now there are talks between the Conservatives and the Social Democrats to revive the coalition that has ruled for the last four years. They sooner or later will find a compromise, the question is only how long this coalition will hold together.
The underlying problem is that in this parliament – with more than 700 members the largest crowd ever elected in German history – that in this parliament sit more than 90 fascists.
None of the bourgeoise parties will work with them, it is not thinkable to have these people in a gouvernement. I only hope this stays so. But one has to acknowledge the fact that they are there, grinning, following their stated aim to teach the “Altparteien” or “Systemparteien” (both nazi-words they reuse) a lesson & to form the state as they want it to be. One has to understand that this party is the strongest political power in Saxony (the tenth largest state, the sixth most populous, of sixteen), and strong enough to sit in many parliaments of the single federal states. As opposition, but nevertheless in the parliaments. With the notable exception of Hassia and Bavaria.
Looking at a “liberal” egotrip / einen liberalen Egotrip, social democratic refusal of political civility / sozialdemokratische Politikverweigerung, a crumbling chancellor / eine bröckelnde Kanzlerin, and on top of all this, the greasy smirk of those fascist creatures / das miese Grinsen der Faschenlarven, schweinerisch is absolutely correct, in any aspect.

Aufräum’

Zeit zum Aufräum’. So the smallish pile of books needs to be attacked – smallish, tiny, ach … In no special order follow titles of books I read since the last list was published sometime in September.

Aperture Masters of Photography : Manuel Alvarez Bravo. Cologne 1997
Nicely done reproductions of ALVAREZ BRAVOs (Ger., Eng., Getty)  b/w photographs. A small tome with an essay by A.D. COLEMAN (Eng.). No special reason, I just wanted to look at good photography.
The same goes for another volume of the mentioned series :

Aperture Masters of Photography : Paul Strand. Cologne 1997
With an essay by Mark HAWORTH-BOOTH (Eng., website). I always admired Paul STRAND (Ger., Eng., Heilbrunn), somewhere around here is his New England book. Just look and enjoy.

DEUERLEIN, Ernst G. ; PAULUS, Herbert ; WILHELM, Hermann : Beiträge zur Kunstpflege in Erlangen. 50 Jahre Kunstverein Erlangen 1904-1954. Erlangen 1954
Erlangen (Ger., Eng.) is a city in Middle Franconia. There are no special things to know about Erlangen. Of course interested citizens founded an art society, and after ups & downs they presented themselves and the rest of the world with a festschrift for the fifty year jumbilee. Here it is.

SPROTTE, Bernhard : Geleit im Tauberland. Als Nünberger Kaufleute zur Frankfurter Messe zogen. Wertheim 1973 (Veröffentlichungen d. Historischen Vereins Wertheim, 1)
Merchants need to go to the market. Large markets were held through the Middle Ages right into Early Modern Times in free cities, like Frankfurt am Main, Nürnberg, Augsburg, and others. To travel safe merchants formed convoys and bought an escort from local rulers. For these domini terrae it was a good business ; fares, taxes and of course the segments where who had the right to escort, were fixed, but nevertheless disputed from time to time.
The valley of the Tauber is a natural East-West connection for travelling merchants. Also there were turnings towards Würzburg, in generally Northern direction, and to the South, generally in direction of the very rich Augsburg. SPROTTE, about whom I could find nothing more, depicts these aspects of the local history (of traffic, of commerce, of public safety) in a clear and even entertaining way. Of course it is only interesting for a local historian, and / or for someone who knows the area and places.

GOMBRICH, Ernst H.: Die Krise der Kulturgeschichte. Gedanken zum Wertproblem in den Geisteswissenschaften. München, September 1991
(zuerst : Ideals and Idols, Oxford 1979)
Damn, I wish I had read this twenty or more years ago. I always thought of GOMBRICH (Ger., Eng., archive) as an art historian – yes he is this too, but he is a cultural historian. I will not repeat here what Sir Ernst has thought, written & discussed in his unique way. This book, or better these articles published in one tome, are still today definitely worth a read, and thought or two.

WEIGAND, Waldemar : Das Königliche Spiel. Eine kulturgeschichtliche Studie. Berlin 1959
It is a small history of chess, with the emphasis of the origins. Simply nice. Could find nothing more on Mr WEIGAND.

GLENDINNING, Victoria : Edith Sitwell. 1. Auflage dt., Frankfurt (am Main) 1995
(zuerst : Edith Sitwell. A Unicorn Among Lions. 1981. Übersetzt von Karl A. KLEWER)
Edith (Ger., Eng.) and her brothers, reviled and revered. I think Ms GLENDINNING (Ger., Eng.) did an outstanding good biography of Ms SITWELL. She never ridicules her, never puts her on a piedestal, no worship, no bashing, but a clear view on this unique lady. Even if you are not especially interested in English poetry, or the intrigues etc. – just follow this strange person through her life, I find it terribly interesting.

That’s it. Maybe you found something interesting, and hence will start reading ?

Drano Is For The Weak

While I sit here at my desk I hear the grinding sound of a kind of chain running forth & back through a pipe. It was the background music for the whole day.
The housing management announced some weeks ago that workmen would take care of the downpipe in the bathroom of the appartements 2 (mine, I live in a “2”) and 4. It would be necessary that not only access to the flat is possible through the whole process, but that also an inhabitant shall be attending. I asked my janitor about this, because of my morning drive, I am usually back before or around nine o’clock. He advised me to pin a paper to my door and by this tell them that I’d be back at nine in the morning, and all is good : “They just need to have a look, no big deal.”
I wondered because I only had problems with the downpipe of the kitchen, and I know that other tenants had too. I think the number increased over the last two years.
This morning when I returned I met two young men in shock-orange, they were pretty upbeat. I mentioned that I’d have to leave in the afternoon – no, they do not expect to be here by then. And yes – it was the kitchen pipe they had to work on, no clue why someone had written “bathroom” in the announcement.
Soon they started to do what they had to do, and some interesting grinding sounds came to my ear. They came near my flat, becoming louder obviously, and went away, downwards. Some hours later Red (I’ll call him “Red”, he has red-golden hair ; his colleague may be called “Black” – sophisticated eh?!) came by and asked if all would be right. I said yes, no problems. The problem showed up when he turned on the faucet of my sink ; the water was spiralling down, and after some seconds it came back, and spurted out of the hole in the wall where the drain goes in.
He sighed deeply. I said that yesterday I had washed my dishes without any problems. He replied that this would be exactly one of those things that could happen. He marched off and soon another round of grinding noises started. I grabbed some rags and started the mop up. On second thoughts I took a small bucket with warm water & cleaner, and wiped the kitchen floor, it was needed anyway.
Some time later Red dropped by again, looking unhappy. He told me that the kitchen on the fifth floor was swimming, and the two ladies there were not happy about this. In fact they yelled some un-ladylike words, towards him and the world in general. But meanwhile the situation on the second floor would have resolved. I did not inquire.
I asked him why they would not simply throw some Drano down the pipe and hope for the best, at least he laughed.
Again some hours later I had to put my gear together and leave again. So I searched for Red & Black, because I wanted to know whether they still needed access to my flat. I found them on the highest level of the house in a maintenance room under the roof. Both looked tired.
Black was on the phone telling the foreman that they had lost that spirally thing they inserted into the pipe, a coupler or engagement thingy had given in. They had to stuff more than forty meters of this device into the pipe ; the pipe itself has a diameter of a little more than five centimeters, the cleaning thing exactly five. It moves, bangs, rotates, I have no clue what it needs to do to detach the slimy goop of forty years from the inside of the tube, but it does its job. Now it does nothing except blocking effectively a very long stretch of said tube. Don’t know how much they could pull out before the “thing” gave in.
I handed my key to Red, he would put it into my letterbox when they leave. He said that they would not plan to stay overnight here, with a wry grin … well …
Actually I have to drive a longish detour, so I have to start earlier in the morning to reach my first, most distant,  stop. In the evening I come back notably later than usual, despite the fact that when the kids are not aboard I can use some bumpy shortcuts.
I wondered how my kitchen would look like.
When I came home some hours later I found Black in my kitchen watching the drain and listening intensely. He told me that Red would be in the fourth, so I went there. Red had given the key to Beard, die Verstärkung, who actually was on the fifth. Beard was friendly, I got my key.
They now have to fight against blockage after blockage, it feels as if every ten centimeters a new obstacle arises. The spiral-thing is still in the tube, seemingly somewhere over the fifth floor. Without getting rid of the blockages they have no chance to reach the thingy from below and push it up with strong springs, or grab it with at least something. From above they have tried what there is to try. They have to clear this tube any way.
And exactly this is what they try to do.
Since I came home I had a sandwich, drank a beer, wrote this post. And listened to the interesting sounds in my kitchen wall. There seems no perceptible progress. In the end the poor sods will have to stay some more hours, sadly I can’t offer them at least a sandwich.

What is actually the name for that stuff that blocks a downpipe ? Any thing in mechanics, plumbing, in technics in general, has a (speaking) name, why not this stuff ? Does nobody collect & analyse it ? Ach, the wonderful, undetected world of gunk !
I really wonder when they will give in. And only hope that “gunk” will not explode into my kitchen tonight.

It was remarkably quiet for some time now. I thought that they left, but a glance in the yard where their vans are parked, shows me that an other one arrived. So they called for additional help and may pause, well deserved after more than twelve hours.

Just some minutes ago Black came by and told me that they have finished the job. Not much left from the matutinal shock-orange of his workwear, it’s more a solid black with orange dots. What a job.