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Satelite Recovery – Lyme

May 18, 2011 Leave a comment

Behind the house - It was nice to see the English countryside again.

Near the new house - It was nice to see the English countryside again.

My mum has recently moved to a new house in a lovely country village near Lyme Regis on the edges of Dorset and Devon. The area is very nice and the house is, ‘in essence’, a very nice little house. Unfortunately, it has some issues. In fact it has a lot of issues. We knew most of these before we bought it but decided (with a very complex budgeting and evaluation I did a few months ago) that it was still a good idea. Amongst the extra problems that turned up, were that the chimney needed replacing. This was taking place at the time I was there and had involved the removal of the satelite dish which was on the old chimney. I was tasked with temporarily hooking the dish back up.

   

Nearby old mill thing.

Nearby old mill thing.

New chimney.

New chimney.

 

The plan was just to bolt it directly to the scaffolding. However, the various available clamps and shackle things were either too big for the dish pole, or too small for the scaffolding poles. The solution, was to mount the garden umbrella stand (a perfect medium diameter) upside down onto the scaffolding and then mount the dish to that. The alignment was done by calculating the magnetic bearing (I think it’s the right-ascension) and using my phone and watch compass to get this direction roughly right. Lacking a signal meter, the fine tuning was done by pointing my mum’s laptop camera at the sky box’s signal screen on the TV, winching my own laptop to the top of the scaffolding and then using Skype to look at the TV through my mum’s laptop’s camera. The slight complication was that the builder was using the winch for a bucket of wet cement at the time. So my poor laptop which has really been put through its paces over the past 4 years, had to be sealed in a bag and put into wet cement, dangling 3 stories above the ground.

Laptop with all my work on, in a bag, at the top of the scaffholding.

Laptop with all my work on, in a bag, at the top of the scaffholding.

Dish.

Dish.

It turned out that the HTC compass is insufficiently accurate even for the first approximation, so some drawing of lines on Google map’s satellite images was used instead.

     

View from the scaffolding. The chimney was massive in the original photos, but stitching them together removed it completely.

View from the scaffolding. The chimney was massive in the original photos, but stitching them together removed it completely.

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Categories: Uncategorized

Untitled and dehaired.

March 21, 2011 4 comments

I’ve been avoiding getting my hair cut since I’ve been here because of the obvious communications difficulties this was likely to involve. It’s not a process I was particularly fond of even in the UK but I decided this weekend it was annoyingly long enough to be dealt with, so on a recommendation from a friend, I went to the ‘Friseur ohne Namen’ (lit. Hairdressers without a name).

After a slightly confused introductory conversation, the receptionist told me something I understood as “it is best to sit in the place”, although ‘place’ was ‘platz’ which I know as the word for the market square type place in towns. My confused look was greeted by a hand gesture indicating an empty chain. So sit I did, and after 5 minutes someone wandered up and asked how I wanted it. Fortunately, my haircut is the nice numerical type. In England: 6 on top, 4 round the back. I did remember to convert to millimeters (thanks to my bro for learning that lesson for me) but here she did it with the ‘shears’ instead of the machine. Fair enough. She did a good job in the end as far as I can tell. So here I am de-haired:

Wouldn't it be nice if it were this easy?

Wouldn't it be nice if it were this easy?

For the non-technical of you: it’s black and white for a technical reason.
For the technical among you: I apologise profusely for using an animated GIF, but I could find no other way of getting wordpress.com (the difference between .com and .org is critical here) to let me animate something. If it upsets you too much (I know who I’m talking to here), please be happy: http://www.oliford.co.uk/photos/blogserve/hair.swf

Categories: Uncategorized

Termination of tea?

March 2, 2011 1 comment
Ahhh, I've run out of tea!

Ahhh, I've run out of tea!

Actually, I haven’t, as that’s just the end of the first box of 50. I’ve another 150 that I brought with me. I do apologise for any distress I’ve caused by the careless use of such a desperate notion, purely for dramatic effect. Please be calmed by the lovely words of wisdom included in the Twining boxes these days. The left one is for Andy, if you read this again, since I believe that over where he is (in the US somewhere) they don’t drink tea quite like we do, but the Germans do quite well in the tea/coffee area.

Anyway, enough of that. What’s been happening? Well, when not working, or going to and fro in the still very cold mornings, I’ve still spent most of my time trying to learn the language. It’s coming along but I’ve still a long way to go before I’ll start to actually understand people.

Kalten Morgen.

Kalten Morgen.

I’ve also been out with the some of the others from the Internationales Begegnungszentrum to a couple of different bars and cafes for food, coffee etc. Of course, beer is another thing they do quite well here. One of them is an avid flight simulator fan so we were mucking about with a WWII sim on his PC, which is hooked up with a joystick, pedals and one of those cool head tracking things. When I’ve got myself installed into the gliding club here and become an instructor (and it’s a bit warmer), I’ll see what he can do with a real one (well, real plane, imaginary engine). This summer is going to be good 🙂

Categories: Uncategorized

Cycles

February 22, 2011 1 comment
'Packages' - a word none of the English speakers here know.

'Packages' - a word none of the English speakers here know.

At the end of last week I was carefully watching (i.e. constantly refreshing) the tracking page for my parcels, which went from Devon, to Bristol, to Gatwick, to the Netherlands and then to somewhere in mid Germany. On Friday they came all the way to our front door… and went back to mid Germany, because no one answered it. I phoned them on the weekend and instructed them to try to make it here before mid-day, because the office will be open. On Monday they managed this, and got here at 9am. This was however, pointless, because they delivered it my work (which I gave as a backup address) instead.

 

Bike. It has more than 3 gears and everything!

Bike. It has more than 3 gears and everything!

So, this morning I (with the help of our secretary) wheeled the two huge boxes around IPP, up the freight lifts and into my office, where I later reconstructed my bike. The contents of the 50kg box of stuff will to be very gradually carted home over the next few weeks.

Tonight I investigated the laundry room. It is down in the basement of the IBZ and contains only two washing machines – one of which is broken. The building is very old, but the basement has been made all modern and practical, which gives it the look of a particular part of a computer game called Monkey Island. So for those of you who have a clue what I’m gibbering on about, here it is:

Categories: Uncategorized

It gets thermic in Greifswald!

February 20, 2011 4 comments

Today, it was sunny for the first time since I’ve been here. It was also a little bit thermic so I’ve been sitting here looking up the local gliding club in between learning more German.

Sun!

Sun!

Thermals (kind of)

Thermals (kind of)

 
Categories: Uncategorized

Block registration

February 15, 2011 1 comment

Instead of going to the institute this morning, I went to a big concrete block on the edge of town. This is a kind of civil registration that everyone has to do here, even the Germans. They operate on a system where you press a button to get a ticket and wait for your number on the big screen, something nice and efficient and fair which we seem to reserve only for some deli counters in the UK.

Fortunately, one of the secretaries that normally deals with this came with me to translate and mediate so I am now registered, have a tax card and all sorts of other weird German documents. They seem to happy here to let their government hold lots of information about them. I explained to her that we don’t do this because we don’t trust our government with things like that in the UK.

sehr weiße Eier

sehr weiße Eier

Picked up some more shopping on the way home, including these eggs, which are disturbingly white for some reason. All of the eggs in the shop were like this but I’ve jet to wotk out if that’s a German thing or just that shop. The saucepan in that photo is boiling potatoes, since there is no microwave in this kitchen. Incase you were wondering, the efforts in that photo resulted in this one:

Achieved food

Achieved food

Categories: food, Uncategorized

Proper tea successfully achieved.

February 15, 2011 Leave a comment

Today I started early and figured out the Greifswald buses, although I had to walk the last bit of the way to work and discovered it’s very cold up here at the moment. Never mind, I have borrowed a bike until mine arrives from England so can leave a little later tomorrow.

Not many bus routes

Not many bus routes

Weird bike

Weird bike

 

Today was very much like one of those orienteering/treasure hunts as it consisted of following the room numbers on the initiation checklist, getting signatures from each person. Many spoke good English, many spoke a little and some none at all, to keep things interesting. The jobs including registering in their little library, obtaining office keys and security pass and of course getting and signing the contact (in German, so also scanning, OCR-ing, translating and eventually understanding it). It is now almost all complete.

My office

My office

I discovered I’m more able than I thought to string the appropriate German words together to get an idea across, although I understand almost nothing of what is said back. Translating the lunch menu is still a little hard. Today I had some kind of pork (Schweinefleisch) potatoes (Kartoffeln) and red cabbage (Rotkohl), all of which I knew but I also had a little help from the others in the office. Everyone around you speaks English to each other, which is very nice of them, but they do switch back into German when they are having a detailed discussion, so I sit there and see if I can work anything out from the occasional German word I recognise and all of the English terms for the equipment and the science that floating amongst them.

The final good thing is that I now have some bits of food in the house and some decent milk so can finally have a proper cup of tea!

Categories: Uncategorized