Archive for the ‘apple’ Category

‘i’ before ‘e’ except whenever you like

July 23rd, 2008

We are 3 weeks into the German course today. Although I think the school is treating it more as week 4 of an 8 week course, which is fine. Regardless we are almost finished book 1 and everything seems to have settled down to 3 hrs of German a day and around an hour of homework. After which it can be a bit trying to search out places and opportunities to practice – feels too much like schoolwork.

We had a bunch of new people join the course and that really brings home how much we have covered. Granted its not much more complicated than “Ich habe jetzt eine Wöhnung in München” and “Möbel für die Küche wir schon, aber noch keine Sachen für das Wohnzimmer” but put enough of those together and you can get somewhere. Slowly. I think the next set of tests we have will move towards wriing postcards and paragraphs rather than fill in the blanks. I am consistently getting 2/5 for my Diktats, Tests and Hausaufgaben. 1/5 being good and 5/5 being bad! So I’m making a lot of silly mistakes and very rarely not knowing words or phrases.

Of course its all artificial and I still can only barely cope in shopping or in restaurants when someone goes off script and says “would you like fries with that” or whatever. And we had one embarrassing incident where a group of us couldn’t figure out how to buy cigarettes from a machine – you needed a German credit or debit card for age verification. What kind of course teaches you to say “Mittags haben wir immer von zwölf bis vierzehn Uhr Pause” and then not teach you how to buy cigarettes for breaktime. But on the flip slide, we spent one and a half hours talking about beer. I seem to have sampled more beer than anyone else in the class Of the list we had; I have tried Wießbier, Pils, Kölsch, Helles, Export, Altbier and Bockbier but not Berliner Weiße. Sometimes that extra effort and determination goes a long way. Chuffy thinks we should take a trip to Berlin so I can fill out the list and have some Berliner Weiße. I’m sure hope I can find someone who can tell me if its worth going to Berlin just for the beer.

We reckon we should have a vocabulary of around 400 words, but none of us do. The course is moving fast enough that if you have a problem with cases or gender or pronouns or trennen verbs (damn trennen verbs) you can’t expect it will be picked up on and corrected in class. Now that we are almost half way through a lot of people are using flash cards and lists to keep track of things. I downloaded a copy of iflash to help organise myself. Its not great but it’ll do until I get around to doing something on paper instead/as well.

Germany calling: Ich Heisse

July 2nd, 2008

First lesson today. Everything kicked off well, even if a few people were late. So being in Germany isn’t rubbing off on everyone. There are 22 people in the class, 8 boys and 14 girls. There were 23, but one girl was in the class by accident and ended up leaving us for one 2 or 3 levels more advanced! People seem to be from all over with Canada, Ireland, the UK and the US making up the native English speaking contingent.

We didn’t do much, but at the same time we did a lot. The class in entirely in German, so it takes a lot of concentration and time to adapt to that – both for us and the teacher. So as well as what was in the syllabus we picked up a whole lot of other stuff that makes the lesson go smoother; like “doodlezac”. With 22 people in the class it is difficult to make sure that everyone gets equal time speaking, but it all worked out well.

There are two 1.5 hr classes per day with 25 minutes between. So far everyone is speaking their native tongue at break, or else English. We need to do better than that.

We got homework. On the first day! It turned out to be slightly more difficult than I expected, but I was just being lazy and not concentrating. Once I gave it my full attention it came together fairly easily. Another of my rent-jobs here is to get the scanner and the printer working together and with the house PC. Once that happens I can share my homework with everyone :-)

One of the CDs that comes with the course seems to be an interactive guide to the book. But have had trouble accessing it as its based around a windows program. Its only a set of xml, mp3, swf and jpegs but you need the right .exe file to out it all together. I’ll do what I can with what I have.

After classes I treated myself to sushi for lunch – from the supermarket – and salad. I made up a dressing from the included wasabi, soy sauce, chilli, garlic and lime juice. That worked equally well with the salad and the sushi so I shall have that again.

The weekend is beginning to fill up. I have been invited to a bbq on friday night and there is rugby on Saturday, And there are more bookshops to discover as well!

Interesting Times

June 30th, 2008

Setting up a new machine is something of a mix between a chore and a challenge.  Especially if you happen to be jumping manufacturer and OS as well. This time I have acquired an MacBook Pro (Its shiney) Throw in a country change and stuff can go odd; like the Internet defaulting to foreign. And I am (will be) migrating domains too, well nev is doing the migrating. I am just complaining that nothing is working. I should be keeping better notes on what I am doing. You never know, someone might be interested or stuck doing something similar. Its a big wide Internet after all.

So in no particular order, I am no stranger to various mac OSes, even if its been a long time since I did a lot of work on a mac (in my co-op days; well before Intel based macs). And these days OS X has a lot of common with unix, which is fine by me. So far various incarnations of OpenOffice, TeX and firefox seem to work well. Instant Messaging has been less successful and I shall probably end up using pidgin and skype as my main ones. My skype a/c is new so drop me an email if you want to swap contact details. I have also installed a bunch of widgets and more for the mac based around macports which is a shortcut to compiling your own X11 and unix programs; like ns2 or dia. macports is quite good but depends on volunteers to keep stuff up to date, so some things (ns2 again) can be quite broken.

I’m migrating domains to michael-barry.ie, which you should probably know about if you are reading this. When its more-or-less presentable I shall turn it on and close down the other blogs and the ul.ie page. At the same time I am migrating email addresses etc around the michael-barry.ie domain, even if I am accessing them through gmail. This type of thing will (should) be transparent to the average blog visitor and commenter, but should (will) allow me to separate life and work and whatnot away from a catch all ul.ie address. Next I need a flicker a/c for photos etc. Until I do get a flicker a/c the blog wll probably be more verbal and literate than before. But once the option of throwing a blog post togther with merely a picture and a few supporting words comes around I’l use that too.

So far so good. Otherwise I am busy(ish) getting my bearings in Munich and meeting new people and the usual. My diet (food plan) hasn’t been great this weekend, I blame the stress of moving. And the drinking. Last night at the Germany-Spain match  I had Bierbratl, which is essentially roadkill in gravy served with what seemed to be suet dumplings and accompanied by sauerkraut. At least there was plenty of beer to wash it down. And the walk home after the match couldn’t have hurt. And we got home BEFORE the thunder and lightning, which is always good. It would have been difficult to get home after the bad weather unless we had been willing to stay out all night. Sleeping in hot, humid, thundery weather isn’t great!

Wandered along to the German school and they were a wee bit odd. They hadn’t expected to see me and said so. But I hadn’t heard from them in six week and better safe than sorry. Everything is fine for starting on Wednesday. They did give me a booklist so I ordered those and have to pick them up at 9:30 tomorrow. An early start, and one that should get me into the city centre before the weather becomes unbearable and I have to hide from the evil sun in a coffee shop until 4pm. There are some Englisgh language bookstores in Munich so I may go searching for them. I promised myself that I wouldn’t buy too many more English books than the ones I brough t with me (all on the Sony book reader). So I am going to limit myself to the books I would have bought if I was at home. That should only be 10 or so :-)

I have a few more small projects on the go to keep me busy in my spare time. I’ll blog them if they go anywhere.