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Dienstag, Februar 26, 2008

Returned home from Return home

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Living in another country can turn things back home upside down in your point of view

After I returned from my vacation from Germany, which is my home country (I left it for Taiwan in 2004), I was a bit shaken. Prices were so high, not only compared to Taiwan, but also compared to former years in Germany. Chocolate stuff, which I bought mostly this time, was up almost 100%. Double prices really shocked me. It's the Chinese drinking all the milk for coffee latte, that's what the German candy industry is saying. Well, whatever.

Other prices made me dizzy as well, especially if I imagine them in our old currency, the Deutsche Mark (DM) and not in Euro. I mean, before the Euro, 100g chocolate (standard "Tafel" packing) was 1 DM for a good but not excellent medium brand. Or 0.95 DM in Sale.

I can still remember the price reluctantly went back to 0.49 Euro, which is about 1 DM, after it was initally higher, but this year (2008) the standard price was 0.79 Euro. Pheeeeeew! Even saw 0.89 Euro. Come on, make it 0.99 Euro and Germans can imagine, Euro is DM again. No wait, doesn't work. A 50 000 DM annual salary is now rather 25 000 Euro.

TV reported, waitresses and hair dresser ladies often earn 450 Euro a month or 650 or whatever. Imagine paying these prices with that salary. No, it's not only chocolate, a little soft sausage (Ruegenwalder, meant to be spread on bread, delicious!) was 1.98 Euro for 250g, that's almost 4 DM !!!! Horrible much! A french salamy of cheap shopping center brand was 1.98 as well for 250g. I am full already.

TV also reported, a lot of such shop keepers and the like would be betrayed by their companies and not get their paid vacation! Germany was always famous for it's long paid vacations. Almost everybody had 25 days per year and office workers 30. Is Germany still Germany?

Well, I guess globalizing economy makes not so rich people poorer and wealthy people more wealthy. If I would start as a computer scientist in Germany now, my salary could climb but quite a number. Salaries for needed people are climbing, while cheap wages get even smaller.

Still my country? Yeah, but seems a bit like trailer-park Minnesota to me (never been there, sure it has its moments as well).

Freitag, Januar 25, 2008

Shenme dongshi, shenme subnet?

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German below, Deutsch unten!


Job training in Chinese, like this time for the Smartbit network hardware test device, is a real bitch, especially when you don’t speak it really. Well I am trying to learn it, but the similarity of Mandarin Chinese with German baby language talk (“eitschibeidschi, geh schlaafie schlaafie…”, in English: “aytshee byetshee, go sleepy sleepy”) makes it real difficult for me to stay awake during Mandarin lessons or any meetings or job trainings which are in Mandarin. Especially when they are using the word “dongshi” (things) extensively, and they always do.

hen dou Network de dongshi

Subnet…..shenme DHCP….shenme shenme dongshi……shenme DNS, woa gei ni IP-Address, shenme dongshi……. subnet subnet ma? Dongshi …gei woa IP Address!

At that point my eyes are closing, that stuff isn’t really new to me anyway.

In my sleepy mind, the stage was somewhat changed, all these cute girls from the test team were singing

Gei woa IP-Address,

Gimme gimme all your lovin’

Gei woa woade gateway,

Fimme gimme all your lovin’

Loop di loop di loop di loopdiloop

Picture me very sleepy after writing this blog entry with so many dongshis….

la mei (2x) from another dongshi ... um.... company

GERMAN, Deutsch:

In Taiwan hat man gern diese 3-Stunden-Meetings ohne Pause, alles in Mandarin und ich muss meiner Jobfunktion halber dabeisitzen und auf Übersetzungen warten. Ich lerne ja Chinesisch, aber es geht nicht wirklich schnell voran, es schläfert mich ein. Denn Mandarin hat so eine phonetische Ähnlichkeit mit deutscher Babysprache, "ei dschi beidschi, bumm deidei", das muss irgendwelche frühkindlichen Asoziationen von in den Schlaf gewiegt werden bei mir auslösen, denn die obige Babysprache klingt wie eine Erklärung zur Taiwan-China-Frage auf Mandarin. Insbesondere wenn dann noch gerade ein leichtes Erdbeben ist, und Taiwan ist die erdbebenreichste Region der Erde, ist die Einschläferung perfekt.
Jüngst hatte ich eine Testtool-Schulung auf Chinesisch, die mir hinreichend bekannten Netzwerkdetails wiederholend. Da der Vortragende das Thema nicht so gut kannte, verwendete er viel das chinesische Wörtchen "donghi", also "Dinge/Sachen", da gab es dann Subnet-Dongshi und DNS-Dongshi und Dongshi hier und da.
Ich driftete langsam in den Schlaf, in meinen Gedanken sangen die hübschen Damen aus dem anwesenden Test-Team

Shake that dongshi, oh yeah!
Dumm di dumm di dumm di dumm
Gimme a dongshi IP-address, dumm di dumm di dumm
Shake that dongshi, all night long...

And the test team girls go...

Ein Rippenstoß meiner Kollegin (mit der ich auch verheiratet bin), weckte mich ich die schnöde Realität der Subnet-Donghis, mit denen sich der Vortragende gerade abmühte...

leizende Kolleginnen: ist die links nicht im Dongshi.... äh... Vertrieb bei uns?

Pics from company server (gals) or (the boring network sketch) self-made

Montag, Januar 14, 2008

EU hand luggage regulations (air travel)

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Well, I am going home soon on vacation, so I needed to check out this:

Regulations on hand luggage on airplanes in the EU:

It seems the EU regulation stipulates the following (I only found info about the emerging regulation as of Nov 2006, before it was passed):

Max. length: 56cm

Max. width: 25cm

Max. height: 45 cm

This is not much different than the regulation all major airlines were following in the past; some have had a rule of thump which went: the sum of the measures above must not exceed 115. The regulation above allows a larger sum.

Airlines usually change these measures somewhat, for instance China Airlines of Taiwan has:

Max. length: 56cm

Max. width: 23 cm (!)

Max. height: 36cm (!)

And (length + width + height) may not exceed 115 cm !

Max. weight is 7kg.

Valid for all classes, but Business is allowed to bring an additional clothing bag, First Class is allowed to bring two hand luggage.

With China Airlines and also other airlines, it is still possible to bring for free:

1 coat

1 Notebook or 1 duty free pack

1 hand bag or purse

A child clothes bag or whatever that was is allowed also, check with your airline.

LIQUIDS: One website stated this regulation would only be related for liquids and not for creams, but most websites agree it’s for everything, including gels, jellies and creams (also medicine!), so let’s assume that.

Liquids, gels, creams etc. must be packed in a transparent plastic bag (called Zipper) which is re-sealable. It may have a max. capacity of 1 liter. Each liquid or cream (or…) package must be properly closed and have a max. capacity of 100ml (best if stated on the package). Has to be shown at the security check separately.

MEDICINE: Medicine which is needed for the flight duration is excluded, but has to be shown separately to security check.

DUTY free bag: There is a lot of chaos about this regulation right now, basically it’s easy: When your airplane STARTS from a EU airport, no matter if overstop or originating there, liquids from the duty free shop (no matter if wine or beer or whatever) have to be in a sealed bag; it will be sealed by the duty free shop. Do not open it.

If you are coming from out of the EU and are landing in the EU, you can bring and old-style (open) duty free bag (they are still like this in most countries) INTO the EU. But if you transfer to another plane within the EU, you have to throw you alcohol away.

So buying duty free liquids in Dubai and bringing them on a direct flight to Frankfurt, Germany is allowed. Transfer in Germany to a plane to Berlin or Paris will require throwing the alcohol away!

I can not guarantee this of course, maybe tomorrow they will even stop people bringing an unsealed duty free-bag even into the EU. Better to make sure with your airline before you buy.

Donnerstag, Januar 03, 2008

Foreigner alarm!

German version below, Deutsch unten


Meeting another foreigner on the streets of Taiwan is often a hassle. How do you react? You can ignore the other Western face, sure. Because you don’t know that guy, there are lots of local people around him (let’s focus on men as I am a guy, the man-woman relationship is more complicated of course), so why should I single him out. Anyway, he is likely American or Canadian and will assume I am as well. Discovering I am not will probably make him think “so, this German guy just greets me because I am Caucasian/Western like him, but we have nothing in common”. Some people even think singling out another Western face would be a racist attitude (see HERE: http://www.tealit.net/cgi-bin/forum.pl?mode=view_thread&thread_id=5917&page=6#top).

But ignoring him is also strange. What if you have to go directly past him, isn’t not greeting him even more strange? If you watch two of these Westerners on the street, you may observe funny behaviour. I have noted (and participated in) most of the following situations:

- Eyes straight, don’t look at the foreigner. Both avoid looking at each other and start to walk kinda stiff zombie-like along each other. Strange.

- Avoid him! Foreigners sometimes “solve” the situation by walking away, turning to the side suddenly to avoid the other “laowai” (as they call us here).

- A short nod! That was my solution for a long time, but I got ignored (having had eye contact avoided by the other foreigner) so often that I gave it up. I prefer to avoid now…

- Say hello! Well, that makes being ignored (happens often) even more embarrassing.

a foreign Bockwurst in Taiwan! Quickly! Escape while you still can...

Wait a minute, the sign says "Barkwurst" (Bellwurst). What did I eat there???

Besides walking a curve or ignoring you, you will also encounter the following reactions when you greet a fellow foreigner:

- Shaking his head, probably muttering in a low voice to himself, looking unfriendly and trying to avoid you. This guy probably thinks I was a racist for singling him out or I would be a newbie to Taiwan not able to talk to the locals or whatever…. And he is much better and much more localized than me, a re-born Marco Polo!

- Shouting back! Some Western folks may actually shout at you, probably even in Chinese. Something like “leave me alone, you weirdo.” If he shouts in English, then this is just a stronger version of the unfriendly response above. If it’s Chinese, he is what people here call a “language Nazi”. It means he is proud to speak Chinese and wants to boast his self-confidence by telling me I am a goddamned naïve tourist idiot who should not bother him. Because he is not like me, he is a real cool cosmopolitan dude, who masters Chinese and is more Taiwanese or Chinese than the Taiwanese themselves (let’s not make this political now with Chinese and Taiwanese), while I am only a dump foreign guest.

- Talking long sentences in Chinese, very fast to avoid me understanding anything. With a voice as if talking to a child. Well, that’s just another language-Nazi.

And then…. The guy you meet may turn out to be friendly and talkative. In that case, he is a Mormon missionary J (there are plenty here).

Summing it up, I avoid foreigners in Taiwan. Stay away you weirdos! Hey you there, don’t COME CLOSE. STAY AWAY. GO! Why to you approach me. Go away you asshat! …


GERMAN, Deutsch:

Komische Ausländer sind immer nur die anderen, das ist klar. Wenn man hier als "Westler" in Taiwan einen anderen Westler (Laowai von den Inländern genannt) trifft, dann finden manchmal merkwürdige Dinge statt. Eigentlich sollte es ganz einfach sein, aber wenn z.B. meine Frau und ich in einem Fahrstuhl sind, indem außer uns noch ein Ausländer mit Frau und 4 Kindern und Onkel und Tante stehen und sie mich lauthals auffordert, doch "Hallo" zu sagen, dann ist das schnell peinlich. Insbesondere wenn der andere Ausländer sich die größte Mühe gibt, seine Schuhspitzen oder die Decke anzuschauen (wieso eigentlich?).

Wenn ich einen anderen Ausländer auf der Straße getroffen habe, wollte ich ihm einfach kurz zunicken und fertig. Nach einiger Zeit aber habe ich es gelassen, entweder wird man ignoriert, erntet verwirrte oder ärgerliche Blicke oder der andere keift einen gar in perfekten Mandarinchinesisch Verwünschungen zu. Andere Langnasen, die sich hier niedergelassen haben, sind mit Vorsicht zu genießen, ob des Smogs und der vielen Sojasauce jeden Tag wunderlich geworden (es gibt eine Theorie unter Taiwanausländern, dass man in einer fremden Kultur ohne Feedback wunderlich wird) und ... mittlerweile gehe ich ihnen auch aus den Weg oder gucke in die Ferne, wenn ich an einem vorbeilaufe. In der englischen Version oben sind die Peinlichkeiten noch etwas detaillierter beschrieben.
Bob aus Witchita, Hank aus Pittsburgh und Steve aus Oklahoma mit ihren Persönlichkeitsstörungen sollen mir gestohlen bleiben... brrrr. Andererseits denkt sich jetzt bestimmt so mancher Neuankömmling, den ICH krampfhaft ignoriere "wieder einer von diesen komischen Langzeitausländern hier".
Mein russischer Kollege, den die Firma eingestellt hat, ging mir auf die Nerven, indem er mir ständig hinterher lief, "Stalking" war das schon. Und er redete so schrecklich viel... Jetzt vermeide ich auch ihn.
Ist er wirklich so schlimm, oder bin ich mittlerweile wie der Nordpolforscher, der einmal alle drei Monate Besuch vom Versorgungsflugzeug bekommt und sich dann beschwert, dass man ihm laufend die Bude einrennen würde...... Grübel.
Wenn er nur nicht immer die selben 3 Fragen stellen würde, der Herr Kollegowska (wie lange in Taiwan, wie lange in der Firma, wo ich wohne). Naja, er ist vom Vertrieb, die reden nur und hören nicht zu.
Mich hat er jedenfalls schon vertrieben ...

P.S: beim Durchsehen alter Fotos fiel mir die Bock-Bratwurst auf, die ich mal in Taipei im Ausländersupermarkt JASON'S gekauft habe. Sie schmeckte hervorragend, aber... ich dachte damals nur, dass das "Bratwurst" falsch geschrieben sei. Aber... da steht BARK-WURST, zu Deutsch also BELL-WURST. Keuch, was für eine Wurst war das denn jetzt ????