Cubed, but not squared away

After seven months of high productivity and a feeling of purpose, sitting in a quiet office with a real door, to be able to complete a highly important project with an extremely tight deadline, I have been relegated to my prior workspace in a cubicle.

cubicle While about 40% of US office workers sit in those contraptions invented in the late 60’s, 93% of those workers wish they were somewhere else.

The reasons have been researched, they are obvious, everybody knows – an average of 70 interruptions on any given day, 29% lower productivity compared to workers in an office with window and door, lack of focus, lack of privacy.

Now, like most people I can’t pick where I sit when I do my job – but I can decorate my cubicle, organize my desk, and bring some of my own tools to work.

My latest find on Amazon is called a “privacy panel”. I call it “the ultimate do-not-disturb sign”. Now, if I could just learn to tune out noise, chatter, and other people’s phone calls, I’d be almost as productive as somebody with a real office.

Amazon Global to the Rescue

When we moved to the USA in January 2006 we had most of the contents of our 840 squ.ft. condo shipped in a 40 ft. overseas container. Books, clothes, computers, dishes, kitchen wares, small electric appliances, and furniture had to come with us – because we figured shipping the household was still cheaper than buying all new stuff.

Our bed is a typical, standard German double bed: two seperate orthopedic cold foam mattresses on slatted bases, mounted next to each other in a 200cm x 200cm bed frame. Of course we brought all the bedding for it too, so we were in good shape.

Now, even expensive bedding that you take good care of will come apart after over ten years of continuous use. Some of those sheets and duvet covers started to look like the ones my mom would relegate to the weekend cottage in Austria. Just go buy new ones, you might say. It’s not that easy, though. Fitted sheets in Twin XL size work for our mattresses, but there is absolutely nothing that would fit our down covers.german bedding

That’s what Amazon Global was invented for! Here’s how it works: go to Amazon.de, search for “Bettwäsche” and then filter your results by “Amazon Global bestellbar” – bingo! My latest order arrived today, fits perfectly, and looks awesome.

Germanize the Bathroom

Those of you who have lived in different countries can probably relate to the mixed feelings I have about houses in the USA, compared to houses in Germany. The main advantage of home ownership in the US is that it is way more affordable, not just because of the generally lower price of land, but also because of cheaper building techniques.

The notion of economy doesn’t stop at the outside of the building; it continues on the inside, all the way down to the fixtures and appliances. I could talk about doors, windows, rain gutters, roof shingles, siding, water pipes, heating systems, electric installations, lightning rods, sump pumps, you name it – but after a while I realized, that my audience either doesn’t know what I’m talking about, or they do and don’t need to be remindHansgrohe shower headed.

I personally enjoy my spacious home and find solutions for some oHansgrohe batchroom faucetf its shortcomings.

 

 

With a little help from Costco and Amazon our bathroom has been partially Germanized. It is sporting a shiny faucet, which we installed last year, and a new luxury shower head, replacing an identical one that was getting worn, both made in Germany by Hansgrohe.

German on the Spot

Today I volunteered to help Suin and Lee, professors of German at IPFW, with their brilliant “German on the Spot” event at the local public library. People could drop in with any old document, postcard, letter, photo… written in German that they had always wondered what it said on there.

My (only slightly rusty) skills acquired 1965 in fourth grade in Germany – reading and writing Sütterlin-/Kurrentschrift – came in handy to decipher faded handwriting. The personal touch, reading snippets about people’s lives, makes history enjoyable and interesting.

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The event was covered by local media

WFFT Fox Local, Fort Wayne

Riding along the Obstacle Course

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Weather permitting, I enjoy riding my motorcycle to work. Six years ago, when I first purchased my Honda Shadow Aero cruiser, the shortest distance was also the best way to go. My ride took me about 25 pleasant minutes along 9 miles of easy going, even scenic, city roads.

Harsh winters, cheaply built roads, mismanaged city budget, lacking maintenance, careless “patching”, quick and dirty “resurfacing”, increased traffic, construction projects, and water main breaks, have since taken a toll on road conditions.

Some streets are closed, some have lane LongTrip.JPGrestrictions, many are in dangerous disrepair. The asphalt is cracked, riddled with potholes or patches, covered with sand, gravel, debris – not funny, if you travel on only two wheels.

So, in my attempt to pick the safest route to work, I was forced to add 3.5 miles and 15 minutes to my daily commute – each way, of course. For most of it I am now driving amidst dense traffic with frequent periods of stop-and-go.