Saturday, April 24, 2010

Google Translate

As we end our days in Germany, I must give praise to an indispensable tool...Google Translate. Although she mis interprets my words, and makes me lazy with my limited German, I appreciate her help with emails and letters from natives. You have might life just a little bit easier, along with all of your other internet friends. Thanks!

To see what a mediocre job these translators actually do (although, to be fair, the computer code for these things must be will be a long way until the grammatic will be perfect), check out this site, which takes something you want translated, translates it into a language, and back to english and so on and so, so after 10 languages you can see what comes out of teh translator. For instance "thank you Google translate for all of your help while we are living in Germany" becomes..."Thanks to the help of Google Translator, living in Germany". Not bad!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Clear Skies

The un-pronounceable spewing Icelandic volcano changed our friend plans a bit (along with millions of other peoples plans, it was an eerie feeling not seeing or hearing any planes for 5 days), but the skies are clear now and we are in for the home stretch. Our British friends the Tomlinsons were not able to fly over last week and their re-scheduled flight was also cancelled, so we were guest less last weekend. Such a bummer too because we really were looking forward to seeing them. It so happens that our great Czech friend Radim will be around form tomorrow, until Saturday, so we are happy to have him over. One of my regrets of the last 16 months was not seeing him while we were so close.

The weather has been warm, sunny, then cold and cloudy, changing all the time...but plenty of time to get outside and ride bikes and go out on the canals. We got a few boxes packed, all of our crappy furniture is up on ebay, and now that the volcano is stopped, we should be out of here as planned, on April 30. We booked a hotel near the airport for the 28th and 29th since our apartment will be void of furniture by then, and we need to clean up the place, so that we can get our deposit back (we better!).

Happy spring time!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Be All, End All

Wow, it has been awhile since I have really updated this blog. Sometimes I get so far behind that it seems like a chore to do an  update. Our visitor Tyson is back in the US now, and with him, is Oskar. I cant believe we will be leaving also, in only 3 more  weeks...April 30. A great friend is one who would take a dog on a 11 hour flight to Portland for us, so we are eternally grateful  to Tyson for doing that. It will make our move back a lot easier, especially since we have connecting flights and Tyson's flight was  direct from Amsterdam to Portland. I imagine, as I type this, that Osky is curled up, happy as can be, on my moms lap, who will  watch him until we arrive. We really appreciate their help. If (when?) we do something like this again, I think the dog will stay  behind, as hard as it would be to be away from him. It has really limited us in transportation, apartments, and flexibility.

Another set of friends are visiting us now, my old school friend Steev Hoang and his wife Christine. They met us in the  Netherlands. We rented a house for 5 days, where we enjoyed the tranquillity of the Dutch people, bikes, and relaxation. We were  in the center of Holland in a part of the country called The Veluwe... basically, a huge, old recreational forest. Bike riding is  a pleasure here, as all places in this country. Good times. We brought Mayzies small bike from Hamburg, and we also have a kinder  seat for the back of our bikes, so we were very portable.

Our dear friends Pauline and Roger Tomlinson will be visiting next thursday from the UK, so this will be a long stretch of  visitors. We have a lot to do for the move, but I think most things are under control. We will put most of our furniture and other  valuable items on Ebay, we have organized a furniture pick up for the stuff we will not sell, we cancelled the contracts for phone  and TV, we got the bike boxes so we will be able to take our bikes on the plane with us, and we will book a hotel for the last 2  nights here, since our apartment will be empty. It really feels overwhelming having to move again.

Jenna has been quite the social butterfly lately, and has made some great friends over here...I am happy for her, but sad at the  same time, because she has to leave them now. It always happens that when you try leaving somewhere, it starts getting really  good.

Back in Portland, we will take our house from our renter on May 1, fix it up, and start working soon after. Pay off our debts and  see what happens next. Focus on health, music, friends, and being outdoors. In an amazing act of kindness, Jennas parents bought  us a used car so we will have some wheels upon our return. I know Mayzie is excited to see all the grandparents.

I don't think I am quite ready to sum up our time in Germany. As readers of the blog, you know that it has certainly had its ups  and downs. We have had some periods of quiet lately, and it helps to put things in perspective. One thing I do know, is that I do  not want to have any big plans like this for awhile. Once I make a plan in my mind, I project myself into the future, forgetting  about living now, and becoming obsessed with my new goal. Just as 9-5 is a rut, so is moving every 2 years. There has to be a  better way to find happiness, and I know it starts with controlling my mind, being aware, conscious of big decisions, and not  pushing myself blindly. For someone who's mind is incessant, this is a tough one to control.

On a nice spring day like today, the birds chirping, the outdoor cafes are full, biergartens are open, bikes are all over, parks  are buzzing, people are cheery...I know I will miss Germany, and Europe. All of life is a journey....

Sunday, March 28, 2010


Having a visitor is great. My friend Tyson is in town and we have been showing him Hamburg and the surroundings. Having no work to go to and hanging out with Mayzie after kindergarten, drinking some great German beers, riding bikes around, going to the fair, and last night we even had a babysitter and stayed out until 4am. What a concept! So its been awesome. We leave for 5 days in the forests of central Netherlands next friday, so until then, more tourin'....


Spent a surreal 4 days in Bucharest and Brasov, Romania last weekend. My good friend Tyson is visiting from Portland and we traveled to Transylvania for two very special shows of our friends band, Agalloch. It was simply an amazing weekend. A land of contrasts, Romania surprised us around every corner, and was beyond any expectations we had going in. A poor, but friendly country, I am glad we checked it out.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Mayzie's New Tat

sporting the local flair

Sunday, March 7, 2010

I'm All Out of Love

I was surprised to hear Mayzie singing this, I put this on a CD for her a few months ago! OK, now we can move onto the metal.... :)

Monday, March 1, 2010

Today We Make Wellness

The swimming pools are fantastic here. It seems to be one of the main ways for Germans  to un-wind, and thought and design is put into the many pools in each city. One thing  in common to all German pools we have visited...changing areas and lockers are tricky.  Once you learn how the lockers and changing rooms work, they are comfortable places to  visit, but its easy to get tripped up when trying to figure these things out.  Unwittingly walking into the womens room or being unable to find your locker, is a  common occurence to begin with. Now, I see the odd lost foreigner and  sympathize..."we've all been there, dude".
We are lucky to have a beautiful pool (Holthusenbad) at Kellinghusenstrasse, a couple stops down the road on the tram. It was built easily over 100 years ago and contains a wave pool, a  kids pool, an outdoor pool, and 3 large temperate pools, all within a historic  cavernouse building. Sitting in a huge, bubbly hot pool, looking up through the ceiling  of glass, to teh skies above, is a truly relaxing experience. One of the hot pools has  built in seats to lay back in. Mayzie loves the wave pool and all the hot water pools,  too. She is so cute with her floaty ring, swimming around, little miss independent. She  was a good sport and agreed to go into the REALLY COLD pool, because I promised her a  gummy bear treat. She would do anything for those, but she was sooo mad at me for  putting her in there. I reminded her of her treat and she was fine. The health benefits  of the cold to hot transition fell on her deaf ears.

The outdoor pool is great, too. The girls lasted 30 seconds, but at least they tried.  Luke warm water, under the grey, drizzly skies of Hamburg. Its a refreshing change to  teh chlorine soaked air inside. Woodsmoke and crisp air while swimming in winter time.  Nice.

**You see this word "wellness" at the pools over here. Seems an odd english word  choice, but I like it. I think they mean "health". I was joking with Jenna that maybe  they put the German word for "health" (Gesundheit?) into google translate and  "wellness" popped out, so they used that.

Sunday, February 14, 2010


OK, this is getting ridiculous. It has been snowing and freezing cold every day since December 18. Worst winter in 30 years, etc etc. Cant believe it. One day you think thats the end and boom it snows again overnight. I used to fancy the idea of living in the Arctic for 1 year, to experience the whole extreme daylight/darkness, but I know it would be tons worst than this, and I can barely handle being stuck inside this much. No parks, no throwing the ball for Osky, no bike riding. Been playing lots of card games, and watching movies, so its not all bad. Heading to the pool today. Also, being forced to focus on mind and soul has been a real blessing for us. We have been eating alot better lately and we are grateful to have the time to focus on our's a lot easier to do it now before we become very busy again in the spring, and when we get home.

Outside is literally treacherous...they are pretty good about clearing the sidewalks, but they become very slippery quickly. I fell last weekend on my tooshy and elbow. Ice is not soft haha. Yesterday we walked across the frozen lake in Stadtpark. It was like eating frog or horse--it didn't taste very different, but it felt strange because you knew what was underneath. The inner fear is a product of all that Rescue 911 I used to watch, seeing them save kids that fell through the ice, or when George Bailly's brother Harry fell through it in Its A Wonderful Life. Plus, I am a big boy, so I expected the ice to break at any moment. I heard that some guy drove his Land Rover across the ice last week, so its pretty thick. Needless to say, Jenna had nothing to do with walking on the ice. There is a fine line between sensible and fearful and I stray towards the stupid side haha.

All together now.."keinen Schnee mehr!"

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Falling Snow

Lots of snow as of late...the canals and lakes are all frozen over, inviting us to partake in some ice lake walking. Here are some recent pics.......

clearing the ice for some skating

We did go bowling one was just like being in the US (actually the place is called US Play!)....lanes, hot dogs, everything looked exactly like home. 

Thursday, January 21, 2010

I Am the Egg Man

A man wants to buy a couple eggs for his breakfast. He walks to the Lebensmittel for 2 eggs. They have beautiful eggs there. The egg lady at the store asks him if he wants to pay now, or pay later, since he is a regular, and they know him. The man has no cash on him, so he will pay later. "Please send the bill to my home on Ludwigstrasse", says the man, joyfully. "Ok, no problem, have a nice day!" says the egg lady. The man enjoys a plentiful egg breakfast. Three weeks later, a bill arrives to the mans house on Ludwigstrasse. The bill states that the man owes the Lebensmittel for 200 eggs. "Oh dear", says the man. "I must go back to the egg lady and clarify this mistake." So, the man walks back to the store and approaches the egg lady. "Hi!It says here that I had ordered from you 200 eggs, three weeks ago", the man says with a chuckle. The egg lady answers sternly, "yes, that is right." The man says, astonished, but in a friendly tone, "No, that is not right, I ordered and received TWO eggs from you, not TWO HUNDRED!" The egg lady again looks at the paper, with mild annoyance as a line of customers is building up behind the man. "No, it says right here that you ordered 200 eggs, that is how much you owe us for." The man is getting more annoyed now. "But how can one person eat 200 eggs in one day?" The egg lady looks at the paper, not at the mans face. "I dont know. It says here that you had 200 eggs, so that is that." The man..."but dont you think you would remember me coming in here and ordering 200 eggs? That is a huge order!" The egg lady is very calm, staring at the paper "I dont know, sir, it says that you ate 200 eggs, the paper says so, right here. So that is all I know of the matter." The man storms off in disgust.

Such is business in Germany, where the paper is mightier than common sense.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Snow Daze

It has basically snowed everyday since the new year. And damn cold, too. Today we got another couple centimeters. Its fun to see kids on their sleds being pulled by the parents on the way to school, and the cars slipping around. We haven't dared take out or bald tire car. A guy at work told me that not having winter tires over here is illegal and if you get in an accident, even if it wasn't your fault, you could be held liable. So we better wait until it melts. I haven't seen chains out here, only winter tires and lots of salt and grit on the streets.

So, we have retreated indoors basically. Bike riding is a no-no in the ice and Mayzie does not last long walking out there. Oskar pees within inches of the door and hastily retreats inside. Today we went to the nearby indoor playground, and we have been to the pool a few times. We found a most excellent pool that has an amazing kids area sculpted out of concrete to look like a jungle. Waterfall, dinosaurs, some nice slides, a cave with rain coming down from the ceiling and lots of nooks and cranny's. Mayzie loves that one. Other than that, Mayzie is addicted to the card game UNO, so we play that every night. Its fun being able to play her in a game and not have to let her win, or hold back because I don't want to beat her so bad haha. She really knows how to play.

Not too much else going on...hope the start of everyones new year is going well. We booked our flights home--April 30. Another transition, but the right one for us as of now.

Sunday, January 3, 2010


Happy New Year to all from Germany. The fireworks displayed around our apartment were a sight to behold... seemed like everyone around us had personal arsenals of very large, illegal-in-the US, bombs, bottle rockets, fountains, and very loud swirly things. It felt like the London Blitz here and we even had some close joker let off a bottle rocket sideways and it hit the bottom of our window...directly under where I was standing and watching the spectacle. It was crazy loud and it felt lawless..I think the the only time in Germany I have ever felt that way.

So we brought in 2010 in front of our TV and our heads out the window, just me and Jenna... Mayzie was passed out. Looking forward to a great year, and we are looking forward to seeing many of you guys. It will be a year to concentrate on friends and family and relationships and body, working through all the (my) cobwebs and demons! Thanks again for reading!


Nick and Jenna and Mayzie and silly ol Osky back there in the back