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Five things March 17, 2009

Posted by Paul Rees in Uncategorized.
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I know Bexxi from Twitter. In a blog posting Five more things… she wrote “If you’d like to leave a comment on this post, I’ll be happy to nominate five things that I associate with you, which you can then expound upon in your own blog (or we can find some other solution, if you don’t have a blog Also, if there are other things you associate with me more strongly than these things, I’d be intrigued to know and would be happy to comment on those.”

Even though she doesn’t know me very well I asked here to list 5 things for me. She came up with this intriguing list:

  • Green Sauce in Frankfurt
  • Frustration with learning German
  • Goatee beard
  • Peter Gabriel (just because you look rather like him IMO)
  • Apple products

Green Sauce in Frankfurt

This is a reference to my last trip to Germany in September 2008. On my way back to Australia I spent a couple of days in Frankfurt. Here I met up with another person I know from Twitter, Peter Jakobs. Peter is also a friend of Bexxi’s. One evening Peter showed me around Frankfurt, including taking me to a restaurant he described as being typical of the region. Here I was introduced to Green Sauce, a dish I had never heard of, let alone eaten, before. Coming from Melbourne where we have (I thought) just about every style of food imaginable I was happily surprised to discover something new.  I thought the Green Sauce was weird, but I liked it.

Frustration with learning German

Oh well that is certainly documented here! Come May this year I will have been learning for two years and still I can’t string a sentence together. I recently wrote to someone that German is something that I am having fun while failing. That about sums it up. I have come to the realisation that I don’t have whatever it takes to be bilingual, that is, it’s never going to happen. That’s the fail part. The fun part is meeting people and I am going to continue using learning German to do that. It’s also worth mentioning that while overall I feel that I have failed with this endeavour, I am pleased that I have very slowly learned to understand German. I still have a long way to go, but I think that after a few more years I will get there.

Goatee Beard

I’ve had this look for a few years now. At 51 looking good isn’t an option, but I try to make the most of what I have with minimum effort. In that context a beard works for me.

Peter Gabriel

Nobody has ever compared me to Peter Gabriel before. Here’s a link to some pictures of him. I’ll leave it for others to decide if Bexxi is on to anything. Personally I can’t see it.

Apple Products

Bexxi will have seen all my posts on Twitter about the iPhone and the MacBook and the associated banter with Peter Jakobs. The truth is I am not an Apple fan boy.

I like the iPhone because it enables me to have the Internet everywhere. Sure other products can do that, but I like the way the iPhone does it. And I do acknowledge that it does it imperfectly and has quite a way to go to be a fantastic product.

Late last year I also switched to a MacBook for my home computer. I simply “had it” with Windows Vista. I used a perfectly good HP notebook that ran like a dog with Vista. It required a lot of support. I spend all day supporting others with their computer issues and I don’t want to have to spend a lot of time at home supporting my own system. I wanted something easy and I got that with the Mac. The PC guy from the Mac commercials sums it up well. It goes something like this, “Ask not what Vista can do for you, but what you can do for Vista.” I also have to say that the MacBook is the best looking computer I have ever owned.

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Planning for Berlin in summer 2009 March 3, 2009

Posted by Paul Rees in Uncategorized.
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People who follow me on Twitter will know that I have booked an airline ticket to Germany so that I can spend the summer in Berlin. The primary purpose of this trip is to improve my German language skills (such as they are :)

I intend to enroll at a school at attend class for say four days per week as well as, of course, having close to three months of full on exposure to the language.

I am also going to use this opportunity to make some short trips elsewhere in Europe. Although I have travelled to Europe five times I am not well travelled. I have only visited Germany (3 times) UK, London (4 times) and Italy (2 times, many years ago).

I have started to look for somewhere to live in Berlin. This is not an easy process. There are a number of websites that one can use to look for accommodation. However it seems to me that the best ones are only in German. That is no surprise really.

This task has highlighted just how poor my German skills are, even after almost two years of learning. Those websites might as well be in Chinese. They use a technical vocabulary that I am not familiar with; some words are not even in the dictionary. I can hardly read anything! Very disappointing and frustrating.

Luckily my German friends have come to the rescue and offered to help. I am going to need it. Can’t do this one on my own.

The Melbourne German Language Meetup May 8, 2008

Posted by Paul Rees in german, Uncategorized.
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Tonight I tried something different in my effort to learn German. I attend a meeting of the The Melbourne German Language Meetup. The group just meets at a bar and talks German… well there is some English for those of us who’s German is not so good.

Some of the people were native speakers and others learners. The other learners were more advanced than me.

I really enjoyed myself. Of course I hardly said a word in German, but I did listen to the others intently. I was surprised just how much of what was said I could understand. I couldn’t understand all, but that didn’t matter. I got most of it!

The best part was hearing the language spoken in real life.I haven’t heard that since I was in Berlin last year and my comprehension has improved considerably since then. Normally, I only hear German spoken in a very laboured fashion in German class or in stilted conversations with my German friends.

Regular attendance at these meetings has potential for me. In time I will be more confident to speak, because the conversation is not too complex. Additionally because there are other learners I feel that I am in a group where I belong. By that I mean, me and only native speakers is very intimidating :)

I intend to go along to further meetings and I will write about those here.