Jobsworth: A Little Thought Goes…

Posted by Viktoria Michaelis on June 8, 2015 in Immoral Conversations |

For anyone who doesn’t already know it, I travel a great deal by bus. Every college day I make my way to the local bus station, climb into a bus which takes me to Bremen, change over to a tram which takes me almost to the college door and, every evening, I do the same in reverse. It is fair to say, I believe, that I know a little about bus travel in this part of Germany although, it must also be admitted, not as much as some!

It is also fair to say that there are some things about life in Germany which irritate me. One of these things is covered very succinctly by the Jobsworth title given by many British people to those who insist on doing their job exactly according to the book, even when there is clearly either a major problem with what they are doing, or it is just plain wrong. The thing which irritated me this week took place as I was traveling to the Domweih (an annual festival) in Verden with a Weser-Ems-Bus – a company owned by Deutsche Bahn and operating in the VBN region of Germany (Bremen – Lower Saxony). A little bit of thought and less rigid sticking to a bad rule would have saved several children a good deal of their pocket-money.


Photo Source: MichaelCreative Commons

At the start of the year the VBN – which is an umbrella organization for the Bremen – Lower Saxony area and covers almost all bus companies and the prices on the railways within its borders – issued a series of new tickets designed, theoretically, to make life easier and cheaper for the customer, without taking anything away from the profits of the individual bus companies. One of these tickets allows people with a monthly, school or subscription ticket to travel outside of their normal area – that covered in the ticket price – for a set fee. The customer shows their normal ticket and pays 3.40 for the remaining journey, no matter how much a normal ticket costs.

The problem with this ticket, which is good for adults traveling quite a distance, is that it applies to children with their normal school ticket too. There is no reduced child price, the 3.40 applies to all.

Three children – under fourteen – traveled with a Weser-Ems-Bus to the Domweih. They showed their normal school tickets, whereby, last year, they would have had to pay one Euro extra for the extra zone (they got in in Dörverden – one zone – and traveled to Verden – the second zone – with tickets only for Dörverden). The Jobsworth bus driver charged all three 3.40 each for the additional zone.

Had they not shown their school tickets, or had the bus driver been slightly more thoughtful, the full price for a child would have been 1.70 each.

  • Viktoria Michaelis.

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Pondering The Shopping Basket Of Others

Posted by Viktoria Michaelis on June 2, 2015 in Immoral Conversations |

Have you ever stood in a long, slowly moving queue in the grocer store and, for want of something better to do, tried to imagine what the person in front is going to be eating for their evening meal? I do it now and then although, perhaps I’m lucky here, the queues tend to be short and quick-moving mostly, with exception of the day before a vacation day. Shopping is sheer hell before a vacation day because everyone knows, that one day without being able to shop, and we’re all going to starve.

A joke comes to mind, which I shall just insert here quickly before getting back to my real post: a man stands in front of the cashier who looks at his chosen products, then at him and says: ‘single?’. He nods: ‘but how can you tell? Oh, I see, buying so little and then only one of each item. Very good.’ She smiles and replies: ‘no, it’s because you’re pig ugly.’


Photo Source: Dan4th NicolasCreative Commons

Today I was almost forced, by a weird quirk of fate, to wonder what the man in front of me would be cooking or, indeed, what he had in mind to do with his purchases. Now, I am not going to judge anyone, we all know that people are individuals and have their own habits, their own desires, their own culinary specialities and so on. In Peru they eat hamsters, in China and Singapore dogs.

This man had only two products in his cart: ten bottles of cooking oil and twenty cans of cat food.

Menu suggestions?

Love & Kisses, Viki.

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The Almost Perfect Copy

Posted by Viktoria Michaelis on June 1, 2015 in Immoral Conversations |

You’ve got to give it to those people involved in technology and selling us things which we really do not need, they are full of ideas. Now that it appears as if the iWatch – or whatever the thing is that Apple has produced – could be something of a short-term success, other companies are jumping on the bandwagon. Here we have the Asus ZenWatch 2 which, I am told, is a partial copy of the Apple – although I cannot see it on the surface – which aims to challenge whatever it is that Apple plans on doing, and probably a whole lot cheaper.

Asus ZenWatch 2

Photo Source: Asus

All I can say is, if you’re going to enter the market with a product which should hold its own, at least have the good sense to perfect the item before you start sending out the first films and advertizing work.

Anyone else see where things aren’t quite right here?

Love & Kisses, Viki.

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Twitter: Getting Good Placement

Posted by Viktoria Michaelis on May 29, 2015 in Internet |

The saying Timing Is Everything has had its day. Now, with the fast-moving, interactive, shallow-concentration days of the Internet and social media, placement is everything. If you can get you message across in exactly the right place at exactly the right time, you’re in there. The trouble is, no matter how many algorithms may be produced, no matter how well planned, no matter how much money a campaigner or business is prepared to spend – and does spend – luck is also a big part of the draw.

Screenshot Source: Twitter / Guardian

In an ideal world everything would work out exactly as these two Tweets have. They appeared on my Twitter timeline together, enhancing one another as nothing else can – not that I am suggesting that Piers Morgan is either middle-aged or under threat – and would probably have been the joy of anyone in the advertising industry, had one or the other been an advert.

Screenshot Source: Twitter / Piers Morgan

As it is luck played her part, and placed them together, one playing on the content of the other. Not even Facebook can do things like that, and they’ve got more experience than any other company in the world.

Love & Kisses, Viki.

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Biography: The Most Important Attributes

Posted by Viktoria Michaelis on May 28, 2015 in Publishing |

I grabbed my usual copy of Philosophie Magazin from the kiosk while waiting for the bus and leafed through it with great expectations. The June / July issue is about food, and food, while not something I write about a great deal, is one of my interests. It is fair to say that I, along with many other Europeans, Americans and other First World citizens, consider the subject of food three, maybe even five, times a day if not more. We are confronted with images of food, with the smell of food, with food itself – in all its forms – everywhere we go, from the hotdog stand on a street corner to the display of rolls and muffins in our coffee shop of choice. Fascinating to read in this issue that there are nearly eight million vegetarians in Germany, and eight hundred thousand Vegans – which would suggest to me that a few more shops and supermarkets should offer food in this direction.

Amongst all the philosophical articles on food, our character according to what we eat, Marxism and the quantification of luck, there was a small thing which bothered me right at the start of this issue. The biographies of some of those featured. My illustration shows the page, and you might just about be able to read some of the text.

Philosophie Magazin 04/2015

Screenshot Source: Philosophie Magazin

Yanis Varoufakis is the Greek finance minister and taught at Cambridge. David Harvey is a geographer and philosopher. Nils Markwardt is a new editor at the magazine who studied the science of literature, as did Philipp Felsch, who also teaches in Berlin. Frédéric Gros is a professor in Paris teaching political theory. Have I missed anyone out? Sarah Wiener, the only woman in the list, who is fifty-one years old and was born in Vienna.

You can imagine what my first impression was: all the men listed have their qualifications in the first sentence of the biography, but whoever wrote these short introductions notes the age of the only woman listed first. I must admit, this threw me. I don’t know a great deal about five of these people – who doesn’t know Varoufakis at the moment? – but felt that the fact of Wiener’s age alongside the qualifications of the men was completely out-of-place. Why mention it at all?

I went further through the magazine and discovered that no other biography handles age in the same way. Tomi Ungerer is noted as being born in 1931. Juan Carlos Monedero as being fifty-two, but not in the opening sentence. Is Wiener’s age of such importance that it has to be noted before her qualifications?

  • Viktoria Michaelis.

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Summer Sun And Bellybuttons

Posted by Viktoria Michaelis on May 25, 2015 in Absolute Hot! |

If the sun would just come on out for more than an hour at a time, and not be broken up in its visits by rain, we could almost claim that the summer is here. And with the summer we’d see the end of those enticing half-warm spring fashion statements, and the real ‘summertime’ attempts at glamor and ease.

Summer Sun and Bellybuttons

Photo Source: Unknown via Tumblr

And perhaps we’ll be lucky this year and have fashions which catch the eye from the front as much as from the back although, to be honest, I’m not sure I have too much time for fashions where the pocket lining is showing! All the rest, well. it’s a matter of taste.

Read more…

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The Selfie Stick: A Warning

Posted by Viktoria Michaelis on May 23, 2015 in Immoral Conversations |

Fine, they want to sell a new pizza to you, but still: amusing.

Love & Kisses, Viki.

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Getting On My Nerves

Posted by Viktoria Michaelis on May 22, 2015 in Internet |

Sometimes I have the feeling that if you compliment someone – or something – too soon after a change, things go bad. I don’t mean that a relationship sours off or anything like that, but what you have complimented, what you considered good, an improvement or whatever, tends to be overshadowed by something else. So it is with my recent post on Flickr and Yahoo. There is no doubt in my mind – and in the minds of others who have used the new version – that the appearance, the usability, the overall feel of Flickr has changed for the better. And I really have no problem in Flickr telling me that there have been changes, even though I can see them.

Pop Up Window: Flickr

Screenshot Source: Flickr

What bothers me is the fact that Flickr is telling me about these changes each and every time I log in to my profile. It is telling me with a pop-up window which also tells me that I don’t need to worry, Flickr will remember the views that I select.

Well, excuse me, but: if Flickr will remember the selection, why can’t Flickr remember that I have already seen this pop-up window and clicked it away more times than I care to remember?

Aside from that: carry on, you’re doing fine.

Love & Kisses, Viki.

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Reasons Not To Send That DickPic #1

Posted by Viktoria Michaelis on May 21, 2015 in Immoral Conversations |

Sound of cell phone ringing.

Young woman: ‘Mom, could you get that? It’s probably just William saying he’s coming soon’

Don't Hit Send!

Photo Source: Garry KnightCreative Commons

Mom: ‘Well dear, it looks to me like William already came…’

Love & Kisses, Viki.

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It’s Not Just Old Age

Posted by Viktoria Michaelis on May 19, 2015 in Personal |

I am reminded, in a timely post from an online friend here in Germany, of how easy it is to forget, to lose, to grow out of the habit of using a language. In my recent post on various problems in the local area, I constantly referred to a certain road structure as being a ring-road. I am reminded that a ring-road is one which takes drivers and their vehicles around a town or object so that it is avoided. What I should have been writing, and the word which not only makes sense but also conjures up a much better picture of what people have and what they want, is roundabout.

I wonder whether other people have experienced this too: you start using a different language every single day, almost without a break, and the old language, the one you have used for the bulk of your life, seems to fade into the background and, worse still, starts to vanish. I have caught myself trying to find a simple, common word many, many times. Constantly thinking of the German word, the word that I do not want to use because it is the wrong language, and unable to translate it into English.

Photo Source: din bcnCreative Commons

I hope that I am not the only one who experiences this! The strange thing is, as those who know me already appreciate, I concentrate all of my communication through the written word. It’s not as if I am trying to juggle different means of communication. I write as much in English as I do in German, and the two are separated by what I write. My use of German is more on the academic side – although we also write papers in English – and everything else is in English. So why am I starting to forget words?

Could it be that, since I communicate by other means, and since I tend to think more and more in German, that I am gradually changing from an English-language first person to a German-language first person? Not that this would necessarily be a bad thing, but I do wonder whether it is common or not, this forgetfulness, this searching for a basic word everyone else knows… Any ideas?

Love & Kisses, Viki.

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