So long and thanks for all the fish

As the title suggests, I’m closing this blog.  This blog represents a period of my life that is well and truly over and it is time that I closed the book on this chapter.

However, do not fear, I’m not giving up on blogging.  I’m way too opinionated to do that.  Instead I’m launching a new blog that fits better with the brand new period of my life that I find myself in. Therefore, if you enjoy reading about my sometimes crazy life, please head over to my new blog, Geek Mädel.  For those of you are reading this on your RSS reader, please update to my brand new feed.

I hope to see you all over at my new blog, but those of you leaving here, thanks for accompanying me on my journey so far and I hope that we meet again.

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Must See TV: Sherlock

I’ve never been a fan of Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes.  I’ve never read a single book or seen a single movie about him.  I’m sure he is a fine detective, but I just never found him that interesting. However, thanks to pop culture, I know all about The Hound of the Baskervilles, The Reichenbach Falls and naturally, his sidekick Dr John Watson. I probably would have never watched BBC’s version of Sherlock if it hadn’t been created by one of my favourite TV writers, Steven Moffat.  I own almost every TV series he has ever written on DVD, that’s how much I love his writing.  This is all a long-winded way of saying that even if you don’t care one iota about Sherlock Holmes, you have to watch Sherlock.

Sherlock is one of those rare TV series that treats the viewer as an intelligent person who doesn’t need constant reminding of who every one is and what happened in the last 5 minutes and they definitely don’t need each plot twist strongly hinted at for at least 10 minutes before it happens.  Sherlock is fast paced with information coming at you from all angles.  If you don’t catch it, then that’s your own damn fault.  It is also what makes Sherlock highly re-watchable, you always see stuff you didn’t pick up on the first or second or third viewing. Sherlock also takes the 19th century detective into the 21st century without any of it feeling forced or any of the characters appearing out of place. BBC’s Sherlock is most definitely a modern man and completely comfortable with technology.  Still Sherlock’s roots are not forgotten with subtle (and not-so-subtle) nods to the books and how Sherlock has been portrayed throughout time scattered throughout the series.

Series 2 of Sherlock has just finished screening in the UK, so those of you in the UK and those of you with ways of accessing the BBC iPlayer can watch it online.  Series 1 was released last year and is now available on DVD. For those of you who are more comfortable with German, you can buy it in German and experience what well done dubbing actually looks like – seriously, the German version was brilliantly done and it is very rare I will ever say that about a dubbed TV series.

So, if my excited babbling hasn’t convinced you to watch this fantastic series, how about a clip of Sherlock and Watson’s first meeting?

Series 1 Trailer

Series 2 Trailer

Elementary, wouldn’t you say?

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Pulling My Finger Out

Deutsch: Beispiele deutscher Beschilderungen i...

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With the failure of my Fluent in 3 Months language challenge and the depressing realisation that everyone in my class speaks better German than I do, I have decided to pull my finger out and get serious about learning German. I know I have talked about doing this, but this time I actually am. I’m actually putting all those grand plans into action and I feel I’m very slowly getting somewhere.

I read out loud to myself a short German children’s story every night and hope like hell the neighbours can’t hear me, but if they can I hope they are enjoying the monster and dinosaur stories of late. If they could shout back some corrections to my pronunciation, that would be fantastic.

I have loaded my iPod with the audio CDs that came with my German textbooks that I have never bothered to listen to, except in class, and every morning and evening on the U-Bahn I listen to them. I’m actually understanding most of what I’m hearing, which I really should since I’m still on the A1 CDs, but still it’s a nice feeling not to be completely lost.

I have gotten a copy of Rosetta Stone and am working my way through it.  I’m still on the basics, but I figure it is a good idea to really consolidate that base before getting to the stuff I find challenging. I’ve already learnt some new words and am slowly getting my head around accusative and dative and how the word endings change.

I still need to increase the amount of German TV I watch and the most scariest for me, increasing the amount of German I speak on a daily basis.  However, I’m determined that 2012 will be the year that I conquer German.

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Improve Your German with a Web Series

As you know I’m always on the lookout for ways to improve my German, especially my ability to understand spoken German.

The website Young Germany has a section that is full of great resources to help improve your German. One of these is a web series called Jojo sucht das Glück. The language used in this webseries I would class as upper A2 – B1, but it has subtitles which makes it accessible to people who are able to read German far better than they can understand it, like me.  The story is a little formulaic and the acting is at best quite wooden, but it is a fun way to pick up new words and practice your listening skills if only for the amusement value of all the bad luck the main character Jojo has.  Each episode is only 3 minutes long, so you can watch a couple of episodes during your lunch break or whenever you have a couple of minutes spare.

If you are aware of any other web series created for beginner/intermediate speakers of German, please let me know and I will add them to this post.  It would be great to create a list of fun resources.

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Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places

Love for Arts

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Since I’m failing completely and utterly to kickstart my love life, I want to hear all your stories about how, where and when you met your significant other.  Please give me hope that finding love is not impossible, cause right now, I’m thinking of packing it all in and resigning myself to spinster status.  I would start on my cat collection, but my apartment building has a strict No Animals rule.

At the moment, internet dating is coming up with a big fat nothing, even when I cast my net across the whole entire world. I’m still left wondering how OkCupid can give me a 82% compatibility rating with an extremely lovely girl with whom I don’t have a single thing in common with – not a single book, movie, musician, hobby- seriously nothing in common. It made for an interesting start to the year, but really failed to deliver.

So please, give me hope that love is out there before I start sneaking cats into my apartment.

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The Music of Doctor Who

The Doctor Who title card for series 6, simila...

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There is a lot of talk about the storylines on Doctor Who, the characters, the plot twists and the great quotes, but I don’t think there is enough attention paid to the music of Doctor Who. Doctor Who fans all rightfully know that the show’s composer Murray Gold is a genius but the mainstream seems to be in the dark.

Music in TV shows can heighten tensions, add suspense and inject some much needed emotion, but can anyone name another TV show whose music is so damn good on its own that is can sustain a night at the Proms all on its very own?  I can’t.  Doctor Who is unique in this regard and it is all thanks to the genius of Murray Gold.

Even if you are not a fan of Doctor Who, listen to the track below and I dare you not to get your emotions all stirred up by it.

‘Trust me, I’m the Doctor’.

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2011 Told Through Twitter

A look back at 2011 through the lens of Twitter.  It is a little US-centric and does miss some of the important events of the latter half of 2011, like the uprisings in Syria and Yemen, but all in all, it is very interesting to see how Twitter has recorded history.  I think the days have past where Twitter was known only for the recording of inane events in people’s lives and is now how the world communicates with each other about events that change history.

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Failure of the 3 Month Language Challenge. Time to start over.

My ambitious challenge to become conversational in German in just three months failed due to one reason alone : I did not make learning German a priority. Yes, I went to my twice weekly classes, did all my homework, spoke a bit of German here and there, but I made no real effort to learn and more importantly practice my German.  I’m not one of these lucky people who have a ear for language and can pick them up easily.  I seem to need to work twice as hard as everyone else to get to the same level. However, I know I have the ability to learn German, because I learnt to speak English, but I need to put some effort into it.  I simply did not do that.

This time, I’m not going to have any gimmicky challenge, I’m simply going to make learning German a priority. I need to get over the fear of making an fool of myself and just start speaking German, cause quite frankly, I’m more than capable of making an fool of myself speaking English, might as well accomplish that in German too. I also know that I’m not really going to make a life for myself here in Germany until I start speaking the language.

It’s time to stop making up excuses and just do it.

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A Very German New Year’s

This New Year’s, thanks to the hospitality of German friends both old and new, I was able to celebrate New Year’s Eve German style.  We ate an incredible amount of delicious food before the obligatory watching of Dinner for One.

Then we divined our future in the time honoured tradition of Bleigießen (lead pouring). Bleigießen involves melting lead (or these days tin) in an old spoon over a candle. Once melted it is then poured into a bowl of cold water and your future is foretold by the shape the lead sets in.  We weren’t quite as organised to remember to get some lead beforehand, so we used wax from small tealight candles. My weird wax formations resembled some of the rock formations at Monument Valley and the Starship Enterprise coming out of a nebula. I have no idea what this means for the year ahead.

At 11:45pm, we suddenly remembered it was New Year’s and ran down to the banks of the Alster to ring in the New Year and watch what the Germans do best on New Year’s, letting off fireworks.  I love the chaos that is New Year’s in Germany.  Everyone stands on the street letting off hundreds of fireworks until the air is so smoky you can barely see anything in front of you.  It is so chaotic and unorganised which makes a wonderful change for the normal Ordnung of German life.

At 3am, I made my way home and narrowly avoided injury when some stupid idiot decided to throw a lighted firecracker into our train carriage. Walking home I was pleased to note that some of my elderly neighbours were also coming home from their own New Year’s Eve parties.  When I’m in my mid-70s, I want to be as hardcore as them and still out partying at 3am.

It was such a wonderful way to say goodbye to 2011 and hello to 2012.  I can’t wait to see what this year has in store for me and how my weird wax formations made on New Year’s Eve will fit into it.  A trip to Utah for a Star Trek convention anyone?

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A New Year’s Wish

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