Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Throwing some thoughts down

This month has flown by...and even though it feels as though I haven't actually done that much, I think if I isolate every individual event, I've probably done quite a bit really. That was an idea I picked up listening to a podcast today (for the record, it was Beauty and Da Beast with Felicia Michaels and Joey Diaz) where Michaels was saying that sometimes, she thinks she's done nothing in a year but if she looks at every event and continuation of progress in life and a career, we get far more done in a space of time than we actually realise. So that's something I'm going to try and keep in my head going forward.

Work has been pretty good, though I'll admit that I've had a few days where it feels as though I'm just killing time and being given tasks for the sake of being given tasks. I've been working in sales for the last few weeks, though I've not been directly selling stuff...more working with the software and going through the backlog of entries to clean it up, keep things up to date and make sure any old entries were either sorted or deleted. Once you get your head around the software, it's not actually that complicated really, though I got the feeling that the people at work were relatively impressed with how quickly I was able to do some of the tasks set. So it meant that by the end of my three week stint, I had finished every job I had set and they were scrambling to find other bits and pieces for me to do.

 I'm meant to move to finance tomorrow which should be interesting, simply because it's another load of things to learn, another group of people to get to know and work with and another load of weird technical and business-specific German words to learn and try to figure out. It'll be a bit of a challenge but something that I'm looking forward to...mainly since maths hasn't been a super strong point of mine in the years since leaving school (though you could argue that it wasn't a strong point when I was in school)

In the last week, I've gone from completely losing my appetite to discovering it again and then trying to do days at work on minimal amounts of sleep, neither of which were really fun. I can't figure out why I didn't really eat for a couple of days, and it definitely made me feel a bit on the sluggish side since I was lacking the energy needed to do...well, anything. It took a quick step on the scales in the hallway to realise that a lack of appetite wasn't the greatest thing... But on Sunday, I woke up with a craving for the box of cinnamon crunch that I bought on Saturday evening, partially because I can only eat museli so often before being bored...and it had a picture of parrots and panthers on the back. Yes, I'm a child. We all know it.

Then across Saturday and Sunday, I had very little sleep as for whatever reason, my body just wasn't interested in sleeping. Sunday was helped partially by a headache and a really bizarre pain in my toes which came from absolutely nowhere, but it left me lying in bed for hours unable to sleep through a combination of not feeing tired, being in pain and either being too hot or too cold. I'm yet to find the fine line of temperature in this room...we'll get there.

We ventured to a little place called The Cotton Club in town over the weekend. Cotton Club is a little jazz club in a pretty nice part of the city centre and they get various jazz acts from around the world playing there. I think that place will become a fairly regular place for us this year since it's nice to just chill out every now and then with some jazz.

There are some good outings and adventures being planned over the next month or so which I'm really looking forward to. At the end of next month, I'm heading down to Frankfurt for the weekend to catch up with Hessie and hopefully see Amanda, Susan, Jess and David provided everyone sorts out a way of getting there. And we're going to see Steel Panther too, which is pretty awesome. It also ties in conveniently as the weekend before my 21st, so I'm using this as an unofficial weekend to celebrate that. Mainly since I'm planning on heading to Oberhausen the following weekend for a couple of nights with wXw doing a joint weekender with CZW. I'm yet to fully commit to anything, so I don't know whether I'll do all three nights of shows (though it'd also give me reason to take at least two days off work for the Friday and following Monday to return). I might head out of Germany for a weekend at some point too and go to somewhere like Denmark if I can find a cheap flight and somewhere to stay. There are other countries that I'd like to visit, but I think they might be suited to the new year when the weather improves again.

I thought I'd written about that beforehand...turns out I mentioned that stuff in the last post. I'm just an idiot...

I've got some new things in a creative manner lined up too. I've been toying with the idea of starting a podcast for...at least a year and a half, maybe even two years and I've finally decided that it's the right time to do it. So I'm in the process of buying the equipment I need, and then I'll start trying to put some content out. It won't just be me talking about myself for a length of time and I've got some ideas for things I want to do with it, but we'll see what happens. To be honest, looking at what people on Twitter have been able to do, someone like Mick (@postalpoet), and seeing how they've been able to put out some really interesting and fascinating content with their shows. I can't promise that I'd be as interesting as these guys, but I can at least try.

I was about to say it's getting late and I'm off to bed. But it's not late...it's 22:40. That's not late at all. I'm someone who can quite happily stay up until 2 or 3 in the morning...but not when I've got an alarm set for 6.45 in the morning. These early starts are going to kill me.

Until they do though, I'm going to keep on going and make the best of the hand life deals me. That's all I can do, and I can't give much more than that.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Willkommen in Deutschland!

I’m more than aware that it’s been a while since the last entry, and I really seem to have settled into the groove of posting once every two weeks. Maybe that’s enough...I mean, Twitter is essentially a way of micro blogging and I’m there virtually every day. Here though, I can just gather all of my main thoughts and points and give things substance that just isn’t possible in 140 characters.

As you’ll have guessed from my title, I’m now living in Germany after I flew out on the 30th and I moved into the flat on the Friday after Len and Chris had finished packing up and caught their plane back to the UK. The flat itself is really nice, two bedrooms, a kitchen, a bathroom, a hallway and a balcony coming from the kitchen which overlooks the street. For anyone who wants to come over/up/down/across to Hamburg to pay a little visit to their favourite British export (that’s me...right?), then there’s even a spare bed in my room. I’m not too sure how comfortable it is since it currently has a guitar and some spare sheets/cushions strewn across it, but I’m sure it does the job.

The first few days were spent getting through all of the wonderful German bureaucracy such as spending a Friday morning sat at the Ortsamt. Admittedly, I did get a bit lost and walk past it about 4 times until I asked a friendly looking German for help who pointed across the road. I felt a bit stupid, but what’s new? Setting up a bank account was pretty straight forward too since the bank found someone who could speak English to do the process with me, just in case I couldn’t understand something. We got away with speaking at a moderate pace and discussing all things German and British, including some wonderful insights into the delights of the Hamburg winter...from the sounds of it, I am NOT properly prepared for that.

After a weekend to unpack my stuff, settle down in the flat, tidy up a bit and do a bit of exploring the local area, it was off to work on Monday morning. All I can remember from the morning is being shown around the office, meeting a variety of people, shaking a lot of hands and then being given loads of stuff to read. Turns out that for whatever reason, there wasn’t a computer at the desk where I’ll be sitting during my stint in Sales (I’ll move on in the world to attempt to understand Finance in a few weeks which should be interesting) so I was given plenty to read about the euroShell card, the application forms for getting a card and a raft of other things before eventually getting given my laptop at about 4pm, just in time to check it worked before going home.

Tuesday was the day I discovered the joys of IT help lines as I probably got to speak to every English-speaking member of the Shell IT help line, most of which seems to be in Malaysia apart from one friendly American guy who sorted everything out. For whatever reason, my smart card, which is used to log onto the computers, had decided it didn’t want to work so I was unable to access the system. Using other methods didn’t work, so I was sat at my desk for the entire morning...and a good chunk of the afternoon, before I could have access to the computer and actually start work.

The rest of the week wasn’t too amazing, just trying to get my head around the software that we use at work. Once you get your head around the system, it isn’t actually too complex but when you’re trying to figure it out for the first time and you’ve got everything being shown to you at lightning speed...and in German, it isn’t the easiest thing in the world. That’s what user guides are for though!

Again, my weekend wasn’t too exciting. I just caught up on sleep, relaxed, watched some motorsport and went wandering. It’s a bit strange...I’m used sleeping for about 6 hours a night anyway but getting up at 7am every morning seems enough to make all of the difference. By the time I clock off work, I’m ready for bed...which leaves very little energy for exploring, or making/eating food, or watching TV. I have, however, managed to get plenty of reading done in the last two weeks. After years and years of not reading them for whatever reason, I’ve polished off Mick Foley’s first two books as well as reading bits and pieces from George Carlin.

I did do some exploring on Sunday afternoon though and found myself in the Stadtpark which is maybe 15 minutes walk away. The actual walk up there was really nice as it goes alongside the canal for a while where people can rent boats (something that has shot right to the top of my list of things to do) and there are some ice cream parlours and whatnot. The park itself is HUGE and took me quite a while to walk around, but I managed to strike lucky as I heard the familiar sound of drums being played...so I followed my nose (or ears) and found a samba band called Bloco Alegria. A brief chat, an exchange of names and contact details and I’ve hopefully found myself a samba band to get involved with while I’m here!

In short, life is good and I’ve enjoyed my brief time in Germany to date...but it’ll only continue to get better! There are a lot of good things I’ve got planned between now and Christmas such as trips to Frankfurt for Steel Panther (ohhhh yes!), a wXw weekend, perhaps Spinal Tap Day in mid-November and then no doubt some sort of pre-Christmas trip before I come home in late December for a bit of time at home. There’ll be more things that will be slightly more spontaneous.

Whatever happens, I think it’s going to be a good year.