Archive for the 'humor' Category

24
Aug
13

Germanised Canadian in reverse culture shock

After 16 years living in Germany, you start to pick up a few German habits.  You don’t cross the intersection when the light is red – it sets a bad example for kids.  You greet colleagues around lunchtime not with hello, but with a cheery Mealtime!  You say hello to everyone waiting already when you walk into the doctor’s waiting room. And whenever you’re at the supermarket checkout counter, or picking up stuff at the cleaners, or dealing with a teller at the bank, you do NOT make idle chit-chat.  In and out with sometimes barely a nod to civility is how it’s done.

So after eight weeks travelling through this great land we call Canada we arrive in the unusually parched Wet Coast west-coast town of Squamish, and it’s time to go to the bank.  I’m out of cash – not an unusual state this time around considering the incredible jump in prices we’ve seen for everything from fish to fowl – so the first morning after we get in I head to the bank, stride up to the teller and ask for my daily withdrawal limit.

After keying in my PIN number she informs me that acquiring the cash will take a minute as the cash must be dispensed from a machine back around a corner, and it’s in need of some sort of re-boot or whatever, and I say that’s OK, and then she asks me, So, do you have any plans for the rest of the day?

I look at her and hesitate that telling half-second which gives me away as someone with as much social savvy as a deer staring at headlights.Canada Osoyoos wildlife deer on trail

As I said, I’m kind of out of practice at this sort of thing, and after 16 years of dealing with German checkout counter ladies and bank tellers, it hits me as if she’s asked me if I’ve tried out that crazy new brand of multicolour condoms with the spiral ticklers.

“Yes, well, uh, I’ve got lots of plans lined up,” and I see out of the corner of my eye that the teller to her right has turned her head to look at me as if to ask herself, gee, he looks like a regular white guy and he’s got no accent, so what’s his problem?

I instantly switch to Canuck mode and try to come back with the breezy-bantery reply you’re supposed to, but it falls flat.

“Well, uh, we’re doing laundry at the moment, actually, it’s the fourth load already.  We let it pile up as we’ve not had a chance to get any done since Canmore and since then we’ve been through the Kootenays and well, you know how it is.

“Well, at least you’ve got a nice sunny day to do it,” she replies, the cash finally having been delivered to her wicket and I can count on the ordeal being over that much sooner.

It’s a good thing the cash came when it did as I was going to add, “and later on I’m taking my Mom to a funeral, well it’s not an actual burial, more of a memorial service for my former principal who passed away, and I was very saddened to hear it and I want to be there.”

I hope October is here soon so we can all start talking about hockey again.

30
Apr
13

Vaginal cream chocolate bar. Yum.

For readers with small children in the area, this post contains words and pictures which acknowledge the existence of sexual organs, so you might want to make the print really, really small.

The red-haired girl has a job for a few months now.  Up to three times a week you can find her at a local pharmacy picking up prescriptions for delivery to customers in the broader neighbourhood.   She gets eight bucks an hour plus tips, which sometimes can be substantial.  I call her our drug-runner.

Yesterday she came home with a package I’m still puzzling over.  Take a look at this:

Vaginetten Myko Kombi chocolate bar Vaginalzäpfchen suppositories

What do you first think of when you see a chocoate bar named Vaginetten?  I know what I think.  Ewwwwww……

Especially when the translation of that fine print at lower left sinks in:

White Chocolate, tenderly melting like Vagisan’s Cremolum Myko Kombi.

Vagisan Myko Kombi white chocolate yumUh, now I get it.  The creamy-white anti-yeast-infection cream suppositories Vagisan vaginal suppositoriesthey’re pushing melt in your hoo-ha just as smoothly as this creamy white chocolate melts in your mouth.

Only people who graduated in the bottom half of their marketing class could have come up with this.    Seriously, what were they thinking?

“I know!  We’ll package up white chocolate bars to give away at pharmacies.  People will pick them up and wonder who could be dumb enough to market vaginal cream with white chocolate, they’ll take it home, take a photo and throw it up on social media.  Voilà!  Free advertising!”

They’re not so stupid after all.

06
Apr
13

Angela Merkel guarantees Muslim kids will not get separate sex sports

Geez, I would like to say more, but the headline says it all:

Germany The Local Toytown no sex sports muslim kids

 

Source:  One sometimes hilariously bad English-language online newspaper 

22
Mar
13

Showering neighbour discovers concept of curtain, doesn’t bother to use it

This is an update of my pissy little pre-ski-holiday-cum-hospital-stay rant about a neighbour directly across from us who seems to enjoy showering for an audience.

Germany Hamburg window with curtainThanks to all those who took the trouble to comment and who gave great advice.  This morning, I am going to take that advice, hobble over there and slip a message under his door.  It probably won’t end up on passive-aggressive notes dot cawm because it won’t be anonymous.  I am going to leave my mobile phone number so he can contact me if he’s got any questions.  It’ll be written in flawed German, but I don’t care.

You see, I was all set this morning to write a light-hearted little story about how our soap-on-a-rope guy now has a curtain covering his bathroom window.  Great!  Someone obviously told him something.

I hadn’t noticed a curtain there before.  Upon discovery, one of the first things I thought was that he put it there because – as we also recently discovered – he has a girlfriend!  Or is it his wife?  In any case, while standing behind my seated wife over this past weekend – weight all on the left leg, of course – giving her a neck massage, a figure with shower nozzle in hand displaying all the attributes of a female appeared in the window.  Those attributes swayed.  They brushed the window.  They were, in fact, not bad to look at.  I was going to dash over to the other room to get my camera for posterity – or perhaps anteriority – but knew that in my present condition she’d be dry by the time I retrieved the camera and got in position to get a decent shot away.

In any event, just as I was in the middle of writing that post  I realised I had to start all over, because as I raised my head to look outside – there he was.

Curtain brushed aside.  Same lather, different day.

If he has a curtain, why doesn’t he use it?

Now to translate that into German.

18
Mar
13

I’m staying Canadian: an open letter to the mayor of Hamburg, Germany

calvin-hamburg-hamburgerDear Mr. Scholz,

Thank you very much for your letter in which you invited me to become a citizen of the Federal Republic of Germany.  The recent introduction of standardised electronic EU permanent residence cards, one of which I had the pleasure of picking up recently (see below) has no doubt made it simpler for you to streamline your database and target the Ausländer of Hamburg in your drive to promote the benefits of citizenship in this great land.

I have given the matter a great deal of consideration, but have decided for a number of reasons that the chances of my becoming a German citizen are – at this time and most likely even if the temperature of Hell hits zero – zero.

Responding to only some of the many advantages you list:

All the rights I currently enjoy including the right to pay taxes will continue as before.

Mr. Scholz, I don’t mind paying taxes.  I’m Canadian, after all, where wallets are sold with special pouches that flip open automatically for quicker tax payment at every turn of the road.  But if you’re trying to sell me citizenship on this basis, you should re-phrase it somehow.  How about: You will continue to enjoy the warm, fuzzy feeling you get knowing your contributions to the great European Social Project and other black holes including the Elbe Philharmonic Centre, the new Berlin Airport and the bailout of Greece, will go on as before.

The German passport will allow me to enjoy visa-free travel to many countries.

Mr. Scholz, allow me to condense in a few lines how much of a pain in the kiester it was the last time my family crossed the Canada-US border by land on the way to Seattle.  I was flashing a Canadian passport, so no trouble there.  But because my wife was travelling on a German passport, we were singled out for special treatment and made to park our car off to the left in a huge lot and leave the keys on the dashboard.  I’m sure they had a good sniff though our undies as we shuffled off to a humungous building nearby to join the waiting queue of people in a similar situation.

Two hours and I forget how many US dollars in fees later, we were on our way again, but not before my wife and daughter nearly burst their bladders as they tried to find a toilet for those waiting their turn.  And to top it off – this is completely our fault – my wife forgot to get her passport stamped on the way out of the country, so there’s no telling what bureaucratic bullshit awaits our return to the US on holiday sometime this year.  An overnight stay in their specially designed hotel rooms, perhaps?

Ahah!  I now recall where the German passport has it all over the Canadian: when we were travelling to Turkey, the price of a visa for Canadian passport-holders was the highest in the world.  It’s more than double what anyone else pays.  That’s because Canada soaks the Turks for an equal amount for visas to Canada.  Fair is fair.  A German passport holder pays diddly-squat.

I won’t have to deal with the Foreign Residents’ Bureau anymore.

Because it is so very enticing, this point should be way up top.  But considering it is only once every five years that I have to get up in the middle of the night to stand around in front of a locked gate for a couple of hours to be handed at 6am a chit that allows me a couple hours later at 8am to get one of only 60 waiting-room numbers issued on any given day for the chance to hand over my new paperwork to one of your minions, well… I guess I can deal with it.  Besides, I love the smell of mothballs in the morning.  Smells like…

Mr. Scholz, I am unfortunately unable to continue this open letter because my upper limit of 700 words per blog post is fast approaching.  In a world where few read anything on the Internet beyond block letters superimposed over a cat pic photo, you have to keep it short and sweet.

Yours sincerely,

Ian OHamburg

PS. Damn the word count, when will Germans ever learn to spell my fz*cking name right?  I know nearly every automated computer system in the country explodes at the insertion of a capital letter in the midst of a name with no room for a space, but if you’re going to be communicating with Ausländer – some from countries with languages so bizarre the word for ball contains a glottal stop, four Ms and a silent Q – you really should try to update a bit.

15
Mar
13

Death of google reader to usher in the new dark ages, experts say

Google reader cropSecurity and terrorism specialists in governments around the world have been bracing themselves for an unprecedented backlash of rage and fury in the wake of Internet search giant Google’s decision to phase out its popular – if unprofitable – feed reader service.  Used by tens of millions around the world as an archaic way of surfing the Internet without really trying, Google Reader will be pushed aside so the mega-firm can concentrate on more useful stuff like geeky heads-up display glasses.

“As of right now our security level is being raised to double-purple sparkly,” said Helmut Askew, US Undersecretary to the Overseer of Interior Externalities at the Pentagram.  A secret, never-before-used level of threat awareness to be invoked only in times of wartime and other unpleasant things, double-purple sparkly will first be felt by airline travellers.

“If you thought we were picky to the point of stupid about toothpaste, get ready,” lathered one official.

Security pros say this week’s Internet consumer outrage closely resembles the now-infamous 1985 Coca-Cola Co. Inc. decision to revise the formula for its popular soft drink soda refreshment beverage.  Coke’s replacement of its crappy, decades-old, overly sweet yet mystifyingly popular concoction with one slightly less crappy and less sweet outraged the addicted masses, who, urged on by the sugar cane lobby, managed to get Coca-cola to reverse its decision.

“Back then people didn’t go around shoving bombs in their shoe bottoms or strapping explosive devices around their midsections to wreak havoc on buses and planes,” explained L. Fin Gnome, security expert with Troll International.  “All we had to worry about was the prospect of global mutual incineration based on a computer malfunction or other misunderstanding. Those were the golden years, for sure.”

In addition to additional encore performances of airport security theatre, Pentagram officials say citizens wherever they are in the world must be aware that individual governments will be poised to clamp down on any demonstration, sit-down protest, hunger strike, random public gathering or topless protests taking place against Google’s decision.

“OK, we’ll allow boobage demos to happen only as long as  it takes to ensure we’ve got enough pics to show on the private news channels,” he said.

Philosophy professor Schmöckjr Pââp, Ph.D. of the University of Wallamoongdong, Australia, says the particular nature of the unprecedented international security clampdown reflects today’s new social media landscape.

“Today, it’s the individual terrorist venting wherever and whenever he can,” he said.  “Starbucks service too slow?  Tweet it.  Don’t like the weather?  Facebook status update.  Google Reader disappearing?  Blow up government and commercial buildings whilst your friends post the wreckage on Instagram. Even if you disapprove of their actions, once it’s on Facebook you have to hit Like to acknowledge your acknowledgement of the action.”

Statesmen and -women worldwide have reacted with shockage and appallation at the Pentagram’s elbow-jerk reaction to the Google Reader flappage.

“Bunga-Bunga, si, Doubla-purpla no!” said Silvia Berluscona, former helmsman of the Italian ship of state, now lying on its side after hitting rocks on the northwest coast and due to be towed sometime soon to a scrap metal yard.  “We who control all of Italy’s media will denounce this action if we can make money off it, or support it if we can’t.  And vice-versa.”

Russian President Voldemort Putin, fresh from another image-promotion tour where he showed off his somewhat perfectly buffed gluteus maximii to a fawning Russian media, said the Sotchi Winter Olympics of 2014 had already been planned as the most heavily securified Games on record, so the new threat level brought on by Google’s decision won’t have that much of a direct effect.

“We are already prepared for floods, washouts and mudslides,” said Putin to snickers and elbow-nudges from the Quebec wing of those journalists let out of jail long enough to be on hand at the press conference.  “Just look at Vancouver 2010!  We’ve got bigger trucks for bringing in more artificial snow if we have to.”

German reaction was straightforward and to the point.

“The Government of the Federal Government of Germany condemns in the strongest of terms the over-reaction of the American military, who should be taking world opinion into better consideration at this most critical of times,” said German Chancellor Angela Murkel.  “Nichtsdestotrotz and nevertheless we are prepared to send a small contingent of our troops to any regions affected, supplying them with pop-guns and Ravensburg puzzles – some in 3D –  because they’ll need to fill in their time somehow.”

Former US President Bill Clitnon said if he were still in the Oval Office, he’d be getting a… good grip on the situation and, uh…. ensuring there would be no stain on his legacy.

“Ah call on President Obama to do the raght thang and just put a stop to all this,” said Clitnon.

-the editors of Letters Home wish to inform readers that due to the above line involving the esteemed former US President the author of this piece has been relieved of his duties with immediate effect for breach of satire production rule 1: If using derivative material thou shalt at least refrain from recycling tired, old jokes about tired, old presidents.  Letters Home rejects having to resort to this course of action, and welcomes your visit in future.   Thank you.

31
Oct
12

Halloween trick or treat gets an update

Has political correctness and touchy-feely taken over Halloween?  I thought they were kidding at first:

Well, if it’s serious, then this works both ways, and I think the message should get out to kids, too.

They cannot just barge onto my property and come up my steps and and stand before my door to scream Trick or Treat!

I find Trick or Treat to be a rude, nasty, mean and hurtful expression of juvenile greed, and I’ve suffered for it each and every year.  But this Halloween, that’s it.  Unless the kids ring the doorbell and calmly – but in a firm voice – ask for their candy, they won’t be getting any.  Here’s the handout, kiddies.  You still have a few hours to learn it.

“We, the gathered children of your neighbourhood dressed as we are in costumes which may or may not be the genuine product of our own handiwork, the work of our parents, or older siblings, or more than likely made in China and purchased at inflated prices at Wal-Mart, would like to politely request that you provide us, free or charge and without prejudice or right of redress, with a surgary confection of your choosing, either store-bought or homemade.  Failing that, we would be prepared to perform, again, without right of redress and free of artists’ royalties, a simple dance, sing a song, or tell a joke.  Should we opt for a joke, said joke will not contain elements harmful to any person or identifiable group.  The song, should we elect to sing it, is guaranteed not to be by Chris Brown, hero to some very sick people.   Thank you.”

I think that’s got a snappy enough ring to it, don’t you?  And it certainly levels the playing field.

30
Oct
12

Area man sorts through his sock drawer

Realising that he was 15 minutes late to work the other day because he couldn’t find a matching sock despite a collection of more than 60 pair, area man Bob Frapples, 52, is sorting through his sock drawer.   Frapples, a research scientist with the Institute of Applied Institutional Applications in Hamburg, Germany, says the task he faces is an immense one.

“Look, maybe I’m going fucking colour-blind in my old age, but I just can’t tell them apart anymore,” he laments.  “I mean, look at these things.  One’s blue, the other’s dark blue, that one’s black… you know, I’ve got better things to do that piss around on my day off sorting through socks.”

Frapples is not alone. In a recent poll, 65% of German men said they gave up finding a matching pair the other day and actually put on their Birkenstocks without socks, a major male fashion faux pas in a country that leads the developed world in awkward ways to dress.

Another survey found 35% of men would rather spend money on new socks rather than spend the time sorting through their old ones.

Specialists in the field of household psychology pin the problem on the pervasiveness of technology in modern life.

“People just figure they’ll be able to download some app for this sort of thing one day like they do for everything else, so they let their socks just sit there in the drawer, forever unsorted and ultimately unused,” said Bill Melater, Ph.D.  “Then they find they’re neglecting other household tasks, like getting around to doing the laundry or finally fixing that damned handle on the bathroom door that never seems to close properly.”

Economists have also picked up on the trend and say the growing under-utilisation of sockage in the market might be countered by external forces that will determine whether socks in the future get sorted.

“You might actually begin to entertain the idea,” said Gudeggs Getlaid of the London School of Economics, “that it is starting to look like the initial stages of a budding appearance of a growing societal trend wherein market demand for a strategic fit in the realm of sock drawer logistics is determined not by whether one ends up with two socks that actually match, but…oh…  Oh shit.   I’m terribly sorry. Where was I?”

iPhone developers have picked up on the trend.  One group is now working on an app that could revolutionise the world of sock drawers and free up untold millions of hours now wasted on sorting.

“Alls ya godda do is point the iPhone at your sock drawer, and the app’ll do the rest, OK?” said an excited app man at some Starbucks somewhere. “The app will analyse the colours and sizes, then suggest paired matches on your screen.”

Frapples says he couldn’t be arsed with the iPhone or experts for that matter as he spreads his drawer out over half his living room.  An organised man, his socks are now neatly ordered one beside the other according to length, not colour.

“That breaks it down a bit,” he said on a break for lunch three hours in.   “I figure with my system in place, I’ll be done before it’s time to head to work tomorrow morning.  I’ve already warned my wife that the living room’s a construction zone ’til the job’s over.”

Frapples has brought in extra lighting from neighbouring rooms to help out in the task.  “That helps to tell the difference between dark blue and dark-blue-but-not-that-dark-blue-could-be-black-for-all-I-know,” he said.

So far his method has resulted in about 20 matches.

18
Sep
12

The quick weight-loss biking diet

Starting weight: 77Kg, the stubborn remnant of a two-week trip three months ago back home to British Columbia, during which I made too many visits with mom to White Spot and other fine purveyors of fat.

Achieved goal: 74Kg.

Diet: Two all-natural peanut-butter-and-honey-sandwiches on homemade seed bread, two generous slices of Panforte made from a recipe by David the American pastry chef in Paris, two dozen dates, two slices of dense, home-made apple cake the recipe of which I do not have because my sister-in-law offered them to me and I didn’t ask, two generous handfuls of mixed nuts, or what they call here in Germany: Student Feed.

One 500ml bottle of Weizenbier.

Six litres of water.

12 and a half hours’ worth of fresh air

Biking: Pump your tires to maximum recommended pressure.  Check and oil the chain if need be.  Wear bike shorts!  If you’re setting out to ride 185Km in one day – about three times what you’re used to –  you want your tush to be comfy.

Have a blinking light for the rear to display even during the daytime to turn on for those portions of the trip you’ll be riding along roads with no shoulder and traffic screaming by at 100km/h.

Bring toilet paper.  Beware of stinging nettles.

Get up at daybreak and have a couple cups of coffee, then get going.  You want to arrive before sundown.  It might help to bring a map.

Ride along a set path you’ve studied carefully both online and in various maps from just north of Osnabrück to Buxtehude through farmers’ fields, moorscape, beech forests, pine forests, along narrow paved roads lined with centuries-old oak, past cornfields, tobacco fields, ancient barns, haystacks and wedding announcements made of haystacks.

You’ll also be greeted by great, gagging waves of concentrated, liquified pig manure as you continue through the endless green and over railway tracks, six-lane Autobahn and bridges great and small, get lost a couple of times, curse under your breath at the uselessness of viamichelen.com which recommends you take a right down Doktorstrasse in some Hintertürverkehr town that ends in a cul-de sac blocked by a 150-year-old building, find your way again, get lost again, finally get on the right track and continue through ever-changing landscape dotted with pheasant, deer, hare, birds of prey, herons, dairy cows, sheep, horses, chickens and many, many cats out on the prowl for that elusive rodent.

Give up trying to count the number of wind turbines you pass.

Curse once again viamichelin.com for listing streets you must take, when, in fact, the street either does not exist or is not posted on any sign.

Ask locals for directions.  They are friendly and helpful!

Thank the fact you’re travelling northeast and getting pushed the whole way with prevailing winds, without which the trip would be unthinkable.

Curse yourself for having left your camera’s memory chip in the computer, so all you have is 8Kb of internal memory with which to take a few incredibly crappy photos for this post.

Thank that you had the good sense to buy a new mountain bike to replace the one you rode to Bremen in the opposite direction.

Stop and have lunch on a bed of dry, crackling beech leaves looking up at the blanket of foliage blocking out the daylight and marvel that in only a few weeks it will all be gone and the long northern winter you’ve been trying so hard not to think about will surely be upon us.

Ignore pains in the knee and the feeling you might be developing a Charley horse in both thighs.  Breathe deeply.

Call your wife and ask her to take that bottle of beer out of the basement and stick it in the fridge because you want to think about it sitting there waiting as a reward for your day’s efforts.

Don’t tell her your legs hurt.

Ask yourself just how many kilometres getting lost and having to swing around to find the proper route added on to the official total of 185km.  Arrive at a round number of 200km, give or take five.

Ask yourself if cycling so far in one day is that much of a good idea.

Weigh yourself the next morning.  Voilà!  Three Kg. lighter.

This diet is not recommended for anyone over the age of 3 unless accompanied by a desire just to find out if you really can do it.

19
Jun
12

Such an awesome lunch we had at the Squamish White Spot

Seriously awesome.

A friendly staff member showed us to our table and as we settled down to look at the menu, our early twenty-something waiter came by.

“Hi, can I get you anything to drink to start?”

“We’ll all have coffee,” my brother Bruce said, “and my younger brother here will have some water.  He’ll have his coffee after, because he told us the other day that having coffee before a meal other than breakfasts is SO American.”

“Awesome,” said our waiter.  “I’ll be right back.”

By the time their coffee and my water came, we were ready to order.

“So, can I take your order now?

“Sure,” said Bruce. “I’ll have the Fat-free Triple-O Leanburger with lettuce and tomato, no mayo, please.”

“Awesome.  And for you, Sir?”

“I’ll have the baked potato,” I said.

“Awesome.”

And so it went.  For every statement resulting in the slightest need for a response, the first thing out of his mouth was, “Awesome.”

By the time he was so awesomely fetching our bill I started to imagine what tired, overused, meaningless bit of oral fluff he would be coming out with had we been suddenly slung back to the late sixties, when the land upon which the clean, bright White Spot stood - and in which we were now able to enjoy such an awesome lunch - would still for another 20 years be nothing more than a poorly drained swamp.

“Hi, can I take your order?”

“I’ll have the Triple-O Fatburger with extra cheese, bacon and mayonnaise and a side order fries with gravy, please.”

“Groovy, man!  And for you, ma’am?”

The thing is, I’d always thought Awesome was already passé, flung onto the heap along with the rest of the Neats, the Keens, the Cools, the Far-out-solid-right-on Hippie-dippie Weatherman stuff that so dates the user, even the worst offender avoids the aforementioned and please-just-let-it-stay-dead forever Groovy.

Apparently not.  You have to plunge right back into your home country to find out what people are talking about and how they’re saying it, so that’s what I did.  I vowed from then on to keep my ears open and listen to every waiter, bank teller, kiosk vendor, fast-food order-taker and clerk, taking note of every Awesome I heard in the short two weeks I’d be there.  I thought it might be fun to do a final tally, plotting the utterances onto an Awesomes per Hour chart.

But it was like going on a car ride as a kid back in the day before backseat Blu-Ray players, Playstations and Smartphones, when passing the time meant counting the cars coming the other direction.  After a few hundred or so, you just got tired of it.




The banner photograph shows the town of Britannia Beach, BC, Canada, where I grew up. It's home. But I don't live there anymore.

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