Olli’s Saturday School – pearls before swine

No, don’t worry guys. I don’t think that these posts or any others are pearls cast before swine.

Pearls before swine, huh? Yeah, today we’re1 talking about figures of speech. Pretty much every language has some of those, and while some – like this one – translate pretty well, others do not make any sense.

to cast pearls before swine – Perlen vor die Säue werfen

It’s literally the same thing in German.

Others are similar, but not identical.

jemanden ins kalte Wasser werfen translates to throwing someone into cold water but what the English speaking world might say is throwing someone in at the deep end.

While the English version is pretty much self explanatory2 the German one probably relates to the practise of rubbing yourself down or showering with cold-ish water before actually going for a swim. So you’d be acclimatized to the temperature and all. No, it’s not about the ice bucket challenge thing.

Time to start the fun part. I’ll give you a bunch of German figures of speech, translate them directly, explain the meaning and leave you to wonder how they came into being.

Das ist (mir) (völlig) Wurst! – That is (completely) sausage (to me).
Being a German expression, you might except that it relates to something important, meaningful…because Germans are all about sausage, right?
No. It’s something you say when you don’t care about something, usually when prsented with a choice.
Stilles Wasser oder mit Kohlensäure? – Das ist mir Wurst!

Der Zug ist abgefahren. – This train has left (the station).
You can say that to someone when they are too late for something. Not as in too late for dinner or to the movies, but for example with apologizing for something, or getting back to you for something you offered to give them once. The uses are pretty much endless.
Es tut mir leid, können wir nochmal darüber reden? – Der Zug ist abgefahren!
I’m sorry, can we talk about it? – Too late for that, now!

einen Braten in der Röhre haben – to have a roast in the pipe
The pipe in this case is a part of an old oven that would contain stuff to be baked or roasted. The English equivalent for that is having a bun in the oven.
Putting a roast in the pipe is also used for … the act of impregnating. Not for attempt or the action as such, but for doing it with the result of pregnancy.
Fun story: I once3 told an Irish guy I had to go afk for a moment, because I had buns in the oven. Uhm.

sich den Arsch aufreissen – to tear one’s arse open
Ew. Yeah, we say that a lot. Especially when we put a lot of effort into something. Which is exactly what that colorful piece of language means.

da steppt der Bär – that’s where the bear is tapdancing
Indicating that a place or party is exciting with a lot of cool things happening

jemandem einen Bären aufbinden – to strap a bear to someone’s back
Apparently we like bears. It means pulling a prank on someone. Or telling a lie.

ein Brett vorm Kopf haben – to have a plank in front of one’s head
If I don’t understand something despite having the solution/explanation in front of me, I do have a plank in front of my head.

jemanden zum Pferde stehlen – somebody to steal horses with
It’s what you want your best friend or maybe your soulmate to be. The best translation probably is a partner in crime. Someone who you can always turn to, who will always help you even if it’s not the most sensible thing to do. Actual crime might still be out of the question.

etwas an die große Glocke hängen – to attach something to the big bell
You probably can guess this by now. There’s actually an expression in English that’s pretty much it. I wouldn’t go arounde shouting it from the rooftops, though.

auf dem Holzweg sein – to be on the wooden path
The most literal figure of speech that actually exists for this one, is to be on the wrong track. I prefer barking up the wrong tree to that one.
Or this one:

You've Got Another Thing Comin' – Judas Priest cover by Motion Device


Du gehst mir auf den Keks! – You’re getting on my cookie!
Du gehst mir auf die Eier! – You’re getting on my eggs((testicles))!
Du gehst mir auf den Wecker! –You’re getting on my alarm clock((wtf?))!
Du gehst mir auf die Nerven! – You’re getting on my nerves!
Yup. All the same thing.

If you’re really sitting in the ink, the crap might be fuming.
That’s actually a combination of two idioms.
in der Tinte sitzen – sitting in the ink
There’s actually quite a few equivalents for that one, I’ll leave those for you to figure out.
Basically, when you’re sitting in the ink in Germany, you’re in trouble of sorts.

In fact the shit might have hit the fan, which is what our expression Die Kacke ist am dampfen means. Or literally the crap is fuming.

Das ist mir Wurst, you say? Das geht mir am Arsch vorbei!
Both expressions mean pretty much the same thing, the latter one translating to this goes right past my arse.
I don’t give a shit.

Wait, you were actually expecting to learn something deep and useful here? There’s one expression that might fit you, then.

Du hast einen Vogel! – You have a bird!


Du hast eine Meise! – You have a tit!4

This is often accompagnied by this lovely gesture, which we call jemandem den Vogel zeigen…showing someone the bird.

  1. well, I am []
  2. In the deep end you have to swim immediately or you will drown []
  3. and I should’ve known better []
  4. the bird, perv! []

Let there be light.

A couple of years ago we’d moved into our shiny new office building. It had fancy stuff for temperature control involving ceiling panels and excess heat from our server room. And motion-activated lighting in corridors, kitchens and bathrooms.

Shortly after people complained about the timer those were connected to being to short. Yes, the ones in the bathroom specifically.

This prompted the usual kind of office humor ranging from Poop faster! to Don’t fall asleep in a stall.

The complaints apparently persisted, because at one point an email to the whole company appeared in our inboxes. From one of our bosses.

I don’t have the actual email anymore, but it explained how the lights in our bathrooms were motion- and audio-activated, so if sudden darkness due to prolonged expulsion became a problem, we were advised to clap our hands or say something.

The lights are NOT audio activated.

I’m pretty sure our boss knows but also I’m sure he wasn’t joking. He probably was distracted, or caught up in something and randomly added it, probably even believing it at the time.

Great laughter ensued. And jokes about what one might say or how one might otherwise be noisy in the bathroom. And most of us didn’t believe a word of the audio-part. Still, in the days following, you could sometimes pass the bathrooms and hear a faint clapping sound or random exclamations.

Hey! Hello! *clap* Damn.

The best part of this? Unless it’s pitch black outside, it’s not even dark in those restrooms. They are along the outside wall of the building, and there’s windows just below the ceiling to let some light in.

Olli’s Saturday School – Buchpreisbindung

Good morning, class!

Today we’ll talk about books, book related words and stuff like that. Being an enthousiastic reader I somehow fell in with a crowd of writers and other book related people, which is all kinds of awesome, because

– it gives me insights in the creative and logistical processes behind one of the things I love most
– those I found are just genuinely awesome people, and awesome friends are awesome.

But I digress. Anyway, naturally this means I see and take part in a lot of book-related conversations with people writing, editing or publishing their books, but also talking about book formats, pricing, making a livelihood from it and all that. One of those sparked this post.

Let’s start with the basics, though.

The German word for book is Buch.
chapter – Kapitel
page – Seite
paragraph – Abschnitt
line – Zeile
word – Wort

Buying books is pretty easy in Germany. You can find them everywhere, not only in book shops. The German word for a book shop is Buchhandlung. Buchhändler, which translates to book seller is an actual certifiable trade you can learn in Germany.

I am sad to report that while ebooks and readers do exist in Germany and the debate vs. real books is there as well, we don’t actually have different words for them that are widely used.

But there’s something else we have, that is quite common in a lot of European countries1 but pretty much unknown in the rest of the world.

It’s that weird word in the title of this blog post.


Book. Price. Bindung?

In short: we have laws that control how books are priced. I shall now pause for you to be shocked.


Books that are published in Germany have fixed prices. Businesses selling books are not allowed to deviate from that price. Ever seen those 2 for 5 bucks deals in book stores? Doesn’t actually exist here.

Publishing companies in Germany are legally required to give a fixed price for their products if those are books, sheet music, maps and several similar products or combinations thereof, if the book part is the main component of the bundle.

Used books or books that have officially been released from the Preisbindung may be sold for whatever price, but there are strict rules as to when products can be released from it.

This is not even a new thing. Buchpreisbindung has first been intruduced to Germany in 1888.

Ebooks have been kind of a grey area for a while, but the association that represents the publishing industry2 decided that ebooks are to be considered as books in this matter.

There have always been discussions about the benefits or dangers of this law, that partially is supposed to protect books as a cultural asset, make sure that book stores tend to stock a wide range of books and not only best selling products and avoid price wars that smaller stores would lose.
That is also the main benefit of the whole thing in my opinion.
As someone working in sales, I do get a lot of people asking for my help, opinion and consultation just to order something I recommended from some online shop who sells it 3 bucks cheaper.

The danger of that happening in a book store in Germany is pretty low. If the store stocks the book, you’d just take it with you. They are also always happy to order, and it’s pretty much guaranteed to arrive overnight, even if the order is rather late. And you won’t save money ordering it off Amazon anyway, so why bother and wait?

Since this is a thing where Germany differs A LOT from the US and UK, and since I know3 a number of passionate readers4 and maybe writers will read this, I’d love to discuss that with you. What do YOU think of it? Send a comment, message or tweet my way. I’d love to chat.

Back to a final interesting tidbit of language shenanigans!

There are two main formats of paper books. One of them is called gebundenes Buch. That translates to bound book and is just our word for a hardcover. That word – as well as paperback or softcover – has wormed itself into common use in Germany, but the actual German word for those last two is Taschenbuch. Which translates to pocket book


That is kinda funny, because it covers both of the two in the following picture. The SD memory card is for scale, I am out of bananas.2014-08-20 19.48.26


  1. I didn’t know that part until recently []
  2. from publisher via distribution to actual book sellers []
  3. assume and hope []
  4. of books, not necesssarily this blog []

Olli’s Saturday School – Gute Nacht, Liebling

Not long ago, someone on twitter decided to show off her awesome German skills when saying good night on twitter.

So what I got was the title of this blog1.

Gute Nacht, Liebling!

I explained a few things and decided to make this a topic of my weekly language lessons.

The translation of that tweet basically is Good night, love!2

So far so good, you say? Well, sure. I can say Good night, love! or something like that to good friends, coworkers, people I like and want to tease a bit. Depending on how well I know them. The right tone helps, but even in written conversation context and relationship to that person should help making clear that it is not a honey between actual lovers.

In German the word Liebling3  is pretty much exclusively used between lovers, or maybe by a parent adressing their child. Ok, or someone talking about their pet.

To avoid confusion on either side a change in wording might be appropriace. Gute Nacht, mein Lieber4 could be used when talking to someone you treasure, estimate or like but are not in an actual romantic relationship with. Although it’s a little old fashioned AND funnily enough sort of an expression commonly used in eastern Germany.

Actually most of the words stemming from Liebe and their use are a pretty serious matter and should be used carefully.

Tell someone you love them today, because life is short. But scream it at them in German, because life is also terrifying and confusing!

Yeah, I know. German does have a reputation of being a harsh and angry sounding language. It is not actually true. Just like French doesn’t always sound like poetry. Trust me. I am German AND French.

German for I love you is Ich liebe dich.

As with Liebling that is usually reserved for usage between lovers and close family.

The last person to say Ich liebe dich to me was a customer of mine.5

He said it in a tone that made it absolutely clear he was not actually declaring his undying love to me. In fact he was just thanking me for explaining something to him and making his life a little easier6. I replied, laughing: Ich dich auch, André! which is short for Ich liebe dich auch / I love you, too

Something else people say, although usually younger folks, is Ich hab dich lieb. Love as an adverb. The best translation for that probably is I hold you dear.

That also works with other pet names usually reserved between lovers, family, pets and owners, etc.

It is a little less common to call someone darling or honey in German who actually isn’t. But occasionally a friend or even coworker will do it, jokingly, when asking for help or saying thanks for something.

Pet names for your partner7 are a common thing in Germany as well and range from animals to very kitschy compound words like Augenstern. That one literally translates to star of my eye.

According to a list I just googled, here are the most common pet names people in relationships would like to be called. I’ve included the most literal translations where applicable.

Schatz – treasure
Süße – sweetie
Engel – Angel
Liebling – love/darling
Maus – Mouse
Honey – duh
Hase – rabbit, bunny
Baby – duh
Bärchen – Bär is German for bear, Bärchen is a diminuitive of that, diminuitives are often used as terms of endearment

Schatz – treasure
Liebling – love/darling
Süßer – sweetie
Bärchen – Bär is German for bear, Bärchen is a diminuitive of that, diminuitives are often used as terms of endearment
Hase – rabbit, bunny
Engel – Angel
Maus – Mouse8
Honey – duh
Baby – duh

So, except for the order it’s the same stuff on either side.

As you can see, animals are a thing in Germany. Calling someone Hase9 does not have any negative connotations as bunny might have due to a certain publication with an animal logo. There ARE animals you should not use though, but I think I’ll leave that for you to figure out.

A good rule of thumb is: cute and furry = yes, typical farm animals = probably not.

Top of the list for men and women is the word Schatz

The literal translation of that is treasure as in Treasure Island, hidden treasure, the famous pirate’s booty. A better translation for our use while retaining some of the original meaning would be precious.

Although, concerning certain associations regarding literature and movies, you should probably just go with darling.

  1. minus the Olli’s Saturday School part []
  2. or sweetheart, honey, darling []
  3. from Liebe = love []
  4. or meine Liebe in case a woman is adressed []
  5. He’s not my type, 20 years older than me, married with at least one kid and rather male, which isn’t what I am looking for in a partner []
  6. software licensing can be a difficult thing []
  7. or kid []
  8. ok, that kinda surprised me []
  9. or a diminuitive of that []

GISHWHES – The SquirreliPug Bunch



Just in case you live in a hole under a rock or simply didn’t know, there has been something called GISHWHES a short while ago. Short form: A global internet scavenger hunt where teams of 15 are tasked with performing tasks1 ranging from silly via charitable to borderline insane and impossible. You’re probably not surprised that I was delighted when I was invited onto Alicia‘s team, the Squirrelicorns. She didn’t get a full 15 people team together, so we got paired off with another team called DrachenPug, forming the combined power of SquirrelicornLovesDrachenPug or short SquirreliPug. Emails started bouncing around and we soon found a way to organize and divvy up items between us, and maybe some friendships might have started in this rag-tag band of internet adventurers ranging from California via Texas and various parts of the US east coast over to me in Germany.

Long story short, GISHWHES is over and I have been tasked/have tasked myself to publish most of the glory that is SquirreliPug on my blog so we can preserve it for our grandchildren2 to point and laugh.

Here goes, in no special order, and please forgive me if I left a few out because I somehow couldn’t remember what they were for and HEY THERE IS 180 OR SO ITEMS AND WE TOTALLY DID HALF OF THEM!
I did however include all the exceptionally silly ones!

Which is faster: a baby learning to crawl or a turtle? Let’s see a race.

GISHWHES #95 – baby vs. turtle race

Caitlin, I bet your kids3 will be really grateful one day. If they ever forgive you.

Get everyone on a subway, bus or train car to sing”Over the River & Through the Woods.” There must be at least 8passengers & it must not be staged (i.e. this must be a random collectionof commuters, not your friends)

GISHWHES #21 – Subway Singalong

Alicia, I am deeply humbled and impressed.

Create a “novel” life form

GISHWHES #158 IMAGE or VIDEO. A novel life form.


Cavemen get a bad rap, but really, they’re nodifferent from you & me. They like to dine at fine restaurants just like us From what I heard it was quite a task to get Brett, Alicia’s husband, WHO WAS ON OUR TEAM to take her out to dinner. Can’t imagine why.

Here’s a behind the scenes pic, btw!

Fograt, Wooster, Elopus or Marge Simpson tummy-art. The “tummy” canvas in question must be that of a woman who is at least 7 months pregnant

This one took artsy skills AND a 7+ months pregnant woman somewhere in the submitters entourage. Alicia had some of that. ;-) I hope that goes in the baby pictures album of the soon-to-be mom.

Provide visual evidence that unicorns really dofart rainbows. No photoshopping!

Alicia strikes again, in a somewhat cryptozoological way.

Not to throw around big words, but “Hirsute” means”goat-like or hairy.” Shave a recognizable corporate logo onto ahirsute man’s back or chest hair. Bonus points if the man is holding a productemblazoned with the same logo.

We can thank Brett for this one, even though it’s not his actual back.

It‘s “me time.” Spoil, pamper & be decadent to yourself like you never have before. Oh, & P.S., you’re dressedas a Stormtrooper.

Now THAT is Brett. Really.

For my one of my submissions I had to create a timelapse video of me completing a 50+ piece puzzle. Wearing wool gloves.

SquirreliPugs assemble! (an Avengers puzzle)

Another one was getting a previously published writer to write a story containing Misha Collins, the Queen of England and an Elopus. All of that in 140 words or less. That one cause a bit of trouble but I was lucky enough to be successful. So here’s the story. I’m omitting the author’s name on purpose because I don’t want to stir up any inconvenience for them, but rest assured I am allowed to share it here and you will face all of the wrath I can muster from anyone I can find if you steal it.

“Who will destroy this beast for me?”
None of the Queen’s brave knights volunteered. Several quivered in their boots.
“Hey,” a voice rang out from the hall. The Queen squinted. She saw a strange man she did not recognize had stood up. “I’ll do it, for ten mil if I succeed.”
The Queen growled, but consented. She had no choice.
Misha strode boldly down to where the Elopus was busy munching on his newest meal – one of Buckingham Palace’s guards.
“Hello, Elopus.”
“Hello, Misha.”
“Ready to cash in?”
Misha led the Elopus by his trunk back through the palace to where the Queen waited. When she saw the Elopus, tamed, she bowed low before Misha.
“You have saved England.”
“Great. Can I get my cash?”
Outside, Misha stuffed a wad of cash into his best friend’s tentacles.
“Let’s try Monaco next.”

 New Yorker Cartoon with the caption “I told them he was half-elephant!”

Marla created this beautiful thing.

They made us set up a “Hot Pasta and Jam Sauce stand” because everyone sells lemonade.

Sara had just the right crew for that. And at $7.95 it’s a steal!

A portrait of Jean-Luc Picard in condiments. I’m not sure if this is the actual picture submitted, somewhere there’s one including the bottles of stuff used.

Boy, if Sara cooks like she paints with ketchup and chocolate sauce, I’ll fly over the ocean and invite myself to dinner at her place. But don’t tell her.

Create a rock album cover containing one or more of your team members.

Marla totally rocked this one. TOTALLY. And it’s not only her legs, also her photography. ;-)

One of the items required hairy toes and Supernatural nail art.

This one was kind of a collaboration between Sara and Brett. I’m not saying that those are Brett’s toes, but his wife giggled a lot on that day and I doubt Sara’s feet are THAT hairy.
Just sayin’.

Here’s Sara and I think Alicia and Brett getting Starbucks with a silly name! Woo!

GISHWHES 2014 #70 Starbucks Silly Name Team SquirreliPug

Jumping the shark

GISHWHES 2014 #119 "Jump the Shark" Team SquirreliPug

Sara, those kids rock!

Pressure wash something you really shouldn’t.

GISHWHES 2014 #113 Pressure Wash Team SquirreliPug

Sara, you really shouldn’t have. But thank’s you did!

PSA about our new jellyfish overlords.

GISHWHES 2014 #138 Jellyfish Overlords PSA Team SquirreliPug

Marla, with the help of her husband, gave us this bit of important community service. Don’t forget to turn on the captions in the youtube settings for that one!

Create a Rube Goldberg machine that includes”Eye of the Tiger”, an image of John Travolta, a toilet plunger,& acorns, among other things.  ((a Rube Goldberg machine is something overly complicated that performs a simple task. Think Back to the Future alarm clock, also that does not quite hit the spot))

Eye of the Tiger Take 2

Lucky for the SuirreliPugs we had Sue on board, our very own Chief Engineer

She also was responsible for shooting a vase off a fence post using a potato canon. Not a potato gun. Wonder if the typo was deliberate? Us too.

Make a mosaic Elopus, 2 meters in diameter, made entirely of natural objects (i.e. no plastic, human-made materials, only leaves, rocks, dirt, flowers, wood, etc). 

Our engineer Sue proved to be quite versatile, she really did.

She was also kinda gansta, when it came to stenciling D2N with a backwards 2 on some factory or industrial stuff.

As with all great engineers, LEGO played a huge part in her career. It even took over her kitchen during the frenzy that was GISHWHES.

Next up, Cairn, who created an Angel out of feminine hygiene products, a tribute to the inventor of rubber gloves, sang Dust in the Wind in a duststorm AND shouted/sang Eye of the Tiger through a megaphone at her neighbor, trashed her step daughters doll house with a sledge hammer, ordered a diet water in an invisible car in a drive-through and swept a neighbors porch. I hope I didn’t forget anything. Talk about versatile!

Dollhouse 15 second edit

Eye of the Tiger 15 edit

Dust in the Wind

Invisible car at drive thru

And, because we didn’t have enough videos yet4, let’s go on!

The next few submissions are from Sarah, not Sara.

Here she converted her bike into a spaceship and accelerated to warp speed. To infinity and beyond!

An educational popup-book about the day the Croatoan virus struck

She edited footage of those two icons into a heart-rending, Oscar-worthy love story.

And this is her, too.

Caitlin had a couple of people play Carry On My Wayward Son on acorns. ACORNS, man!

Squirrelipug Carry On My Wayward Son on Acorns

She also won the Game of Thrones.

The actual task was “You or your pet, in period costume, seated on a Game of Thrones-style kale throne. Make it so good that GOT producers would want it as a marketing poster”. Maybe not quite literal, but I’d pledge my allegiance in an instant.

 You and your four friends are a five-headed monster with all of your heads poking out of one collar of a giant shirt. Now do yard work.

A newspaper boat regatta in a public fountain with competetive and gambling onlookers. Shame the current drowned the boats, though.

Behold our take on trickle down economics!

Or maybe a fancy dress made out of whatever is found in your bathroom? Toilet paper high heels.

For those of you who still don’t know what an Elopus is, we had to get barrista art of one anyway, so check this baby out:

Look! It’s Christina! And she’s nesting!

That was after she mowed her lawn in Geisha set-up, fed her demons and sucked the blood out of a donut, mind you.

I found another one by Sarah. She inflicted herself with spiderbites in the ass and clothes pin polka dots pretty much all-over.

Sara now, SHE created a new piece of furniture and demonstrated its use.


And with this, the SquirreliPug Bunch says good bye for now. I’ll maybe update this if more of our awesome exploits surface. Maybe. There’s so much more awesome in our secret hiding place, but I’m not sure I’m allowed to share it, and it’s maybe too much to just dump it on the blog anyway.

Here’s the story of a lovely lady
Who was inviting some Squirrelicorns
All of them had silly minds, crazy ideas
The youngest one a teenager

Here’s the story of the DrachenPug team
Who was buzzing with creativity
They were a bunch of internet crazies
Yet not enough for a full team

Till the one day when they were thrown together
And they knew it was much more than a hunch
That this group must somehow form a new team
That’s the way we all became the SquirreliPug Bunch.

And now we play the waiting game until we can all be disappointed together that we don’t get to travel to Croatia.

KIDDING! It was one of the most awesome things I ever was a part of, and I am immensely glad I met all of you!


August 16th, Marla provided me with a few more of her submissions.

She caught the Blue-Footed Munotaur5 on camera!

After that, because she’s badass, she strongarmed6 a movie theater employee into letting her watch a movie for free.


But badass alone was not going to cut it for GISHWHES! She’s also crafty!

Avian real estate prices are going to skyrocket in Georgia this year.


  1. and providing proof []
  2. and everyone else []
  3. they were yours, right? []
  4. are you sick of them? Sucks to be you []
  5. No, I have no idea what it is []
  6. literally. ACTUALLY LITERALLY []

GISHWHES – How not to be a jerk

This post was kind of triggered by me reading comments.

Ye be warned!

Some inappropriate language will appear in this post and things linked in it.1

In case you don’t know, GISHWHES is a global internet scavenger hunt in which people are asked to do weird stuff to get points towards a slim chance of winning a grand prize. Apparently2 it is at least partially for charity. Good job.

Like this:

That is a pretty harmless one for everyone involved.

Another one was:

Get a previously published Sci-Fi author to write an original story (140 words max) about Misha, the Queen of England and an Elopus

Apparently that prompted a great many people to suddenly lose all common decency and swamp a hoard of authors, some of them high-profile, with tweets, mails, facebook messages and who-knows-what, in some cases perhaps politely asking for, demanding or attempting to guilt-trip them into writing said story.

A lot have – understandably – denied the request, some have been insulted and harassed for that. Boo.

Some of the authors  got seriously upset about that alone and expressed their annoyance in the form of tweets and blogs. I read some of those.

I love this one. I do not love the one that is linked in there as much, I don’t agree with part of it, but I do understand it. The comments3 on that was what drove me over the edge and made me write this blog post.

Not-so-dear GISHERS

– who thought it was a good idea to contact authors that are quite high profile, obviously leading rather busy lives and/or not even remotely acquainted with you unless they have previously expressed the wish to help
– who were impolite, demanding, rude, threatening, harassing or anything along those lines in your requests or reactions to denial
– who actually found out a secret mail adress used by that particular writer for very specific purposes and thought it was a good idea to use that one

Fuck. You.4

I do not agree that asking a professional for a favor is demeaning or devaluing their work or anything. But a favor is a personal thing, so unless you know/have a bilateral connection to that professional, think about what you’re doing.

Again: Think about who you ask. And how  you ask.


So? Do YOU donate/help EVERY SINGLE charity that approaches you? No? Tought so.
Wait, you do? Good for you. How many of them approach you? Ah, I see. Well, how would you react if what feels like every single charity in your country approaches you within the course of one week? Thought so.
Does it help if they’re rude? Demanding? Try to guild trip you?
I guessed.

Dear affronted, annoyed and swamped authors who might read that:

I am truly sorry. And ashamed. Please do not blame the community or the initiators for what happened here. I am pretty sure that is not the way it was intended. And no, I do not think the NASAspam item is the same thing, but I do see the problems it might create.

Please consider that what those people are doing, and the way they are doing it, is against the spirit and against the actual rules of the event. You don’t blame YouTube for the content of the comment section, do you?5

Behavior during the Hunt – You are not permitted to physically, emotionally or psychologically hurt or attack yourself, another GISHER or anyone outside The Hunt

Granted, there is a command about forsaking decency, but I think that is all about embarrassing yourself in a way not harmful to anyone else.

Again, I am so sorry and I actually felt bad for a bit for even taking part in what I still think is a good idea at the core.

Back to you jerks, who will probably never read this:

What the hell were you thinking? No, wait. I don’t want to know. But I want you to read the following section and learn from it. It’s a good thing to keep in mind even outside of scavenger hunts.

My first thought when reading that particular item was: Huh. That is hard, how can I help do this without bothering anyone while still having a chance at success? Luckily I got to know a load of people on twitter in the past two years, some of them in a circle6 of mostly indie/selfpublished writers.

So I took mental inventory.

It went a little like this: “Oh, that book I recently read is SciFi. I’ve talked a bit to the writer these past weeks. Seems like a fun person that I might ask nicely.”

So I formulated my request .

Subject line: Weird question. Maybe.

Actual Message:
Hi :-)

Have you ever heard of GISHWHES? Basically it’s a very weird internet scavenger hunt with a list of 180 or so items teams have to get pictures or video of.
www.gishwhes.com is the website. And there is in fact one item you might be able to help my team with, if you have the time and want to.
Trouble is, starting now, we have little more than 6 days left.
Item in question:
“Get a previously published Sci-Fi author to write an original story (140 words max) about Misha, the Queen of England and an Elopus.”
We’d need a picture of that story, legible and it is not allowed to be something that has been shared somewhere before.
If you don’t have time, don’t want to or whatever, that’s fine.
If you do, I’d be eternally grateful and treat you to all the cheese you want if you ever come here. Or something. :-)
Olli the weird German ;-D


That’s how easy it is to be nice. I was lucky enough to get a positive reply within a rather short time, and a story, But that doesn’t actually matter.

The point is: If you need to achieve something and you can’t do it without being an obnoxious asshole, then back the fuck off.
To paraphrase someone I am connected to via twitter:

Who will bleed, die or go to jail if it doesn’t work? Noone? So it’s not that important.

I don’t know if the people who behaved in that special way, leaving annoyed, frustrated or even scared authors in their destructive wake, giving the GISHWHES and the whole community a bad name were stupid, inconsiderate or just purposely being jerks.

Thanks for nothing, assbags.

  1. Ye be warned again. []
  2. I didn’t even realize it []
  3. Never read the comments.  Never. Uhm, I will read and if I deem necessary or polite react to those on mine []
  4. Ye were warned. []
  5. Okay, I admit, it is easier to avoid than a gazillion unsolicited mails within a week []
  6. or maybe oval []

Olli’s Saturday School – An education in intoxication

A while ago I talked about ordering water, but I assume most of you want some real drinks.1.

So…how old are you guys? For the younger ones, the good news is, there’s no waiting until you’re 21 befor you can can get educated in Germany.Jomm2014 057

I know, I know. That pub is in Oxford, England.

Back to our lesson, though. Legal age to drink certain sorts of drinks and enter certain sorts of places is ruled by our Jugendschutzgesetz, or JuSchG in abbreviated legalese. That translates to Law for the protection of the youth. Quite a mouthful

Translated excerpts

Presence in pubs, inns, restaurants, etc…
Kids and youths below 16 years are only allowed to be in pubs/restaurants/etc when a legal guardian or representative is present. Unless they are having a meal or beverage between 5AM and 11PM.  Youths above 16 years2 are not allowed in a pub etc. between midnight and 5AM.

There are exceptions for travel and certain youth welfare events.

If those places are night clubs or similar establishment, no kids or youths are allowed ever.


In pubs, restaurants, shops and in the public, it is not allowed to dispense or allow the consumption of
(1) spirits, drinks containing spirits or food containing spirits in non-marginal quantities to kids or youths (anyone below 18 years of age)
(2)  other alcoholic beverages to kids any youth below the age of 16

(2) is invalid if the kid in question is with a legal guardian

So, yes. beer and wine (or diluted versions of both) is okay if you’re older than 16 or your parents are with you and allow it. Anything else is allowed once you turn 18.

Handy vocabulary

beer – Bier
Common variations there-of: Pils, Alt, Weizen, Kölsch, Hefeweizen, Weissbier, Bock, Bockbier, Doppelbock

Shandy, a mix of usually about 50% beer and some sort of lemonade, usually the Fanta/Sprite type of stuff, goes by the names of Radler, Alsterwasser or Potsdamer, depending on where you are.
Some people like to mix Weizenbier with bananajuice or cola, making it a Bananenweizen or Colaweizen. Colabier is also a thing. The possibilities are endless.

wine – Wein3
red wein – Rotwein
white wein – Weisswein
When it is hot, people like to dilute their white wine with sparkling water, this is called a Schorle

A – about halfpint – glass of wine is called a Schoppen.
Going out on weekend mornings, meeting a few buddies and having a drink with them4 is called Frühschoppen.

Hard liquor is usually referred to as Schnaps. Common in Gemany is the socalled Obstler (Obst = fruit, fruit schnapps) or Kräuter/Kräuterschnaps which is a herbal liquor, often taken to further digestion. Physiologically debatable, but eh….tradition.

If you look young, you might get asked for your Führerschein (license) or Personalausweis, short Ausweis (ID card).

There are many different ways to get drunk in Germany, depending on where you are, but please, be responsible. Even if there is no law against drinking in public, if you misbehave, you might end up sleeping it off in a cell. Or being run over by a car.

So, what’s your poison, boozehounds?

Oh, by the way: in Germany, a boozehound is a Schnapsdrossel which translates back to liquor thrush.

  1. Which you should drink responsibly []
  2. in Germany, they cease to be legal youths at the age of 18 []
  3. pronunciation is almost the same. Think: vine []
  4. either beer or wine []

Photography Friday – stairs

It’s photography time!

For this week the awesome 52 Photos Project  gave us the following topic:


This particular set of stairs is in Waimangu Volcanic Valley, and while I like the picture, I regret I didn’t found a better one from my hike through Tongariro National Park. I have to admit, I was just to exhausted to take a picture there. And I hated those stairs with a passion. I’m not good at changing elevation, I prefere pure distance.


Weird stuff that is happening this week

Weird stuff indeed. Which is why this blog post isn’t anything like the usual.

For starters work is a little crazy, with a new software version being implemented this weekend, a big corporate event happening, projects and other stuff.

Then I joined something with 14 other people on the internet. I have regularly conversed with 2 of those before that thing started. It’s gonna be over this weekend.

As a result I have:

– bought 2 puzzles and completed one, recording myself doing so in a kinda ridiculous get-up.
– asked the amazing Amira Makansi for a favor. You should read her blog about being an adult, by the way.
– downloaded a free drawing/painting on my new ipad and painted ridiculously bad but kinda fun pictures with the crappy stylus that was included in the cover/case thing I bought

I wish I’d have had the opportunity to work on more stuff for it, like fly to Wales and climb a mountain short notice (it’s not that far, the weather is nice but I can’t just disappear from work to days this short notice).

Instead I took (SFW) pictures of me in the shower. That’s something, right?

Also we talked about shaving back hair, eating cheeseburgers, Lego dinnerware, warp speed bicycles, deadly fictional viruses, textile porn, kale, nail art and hairy toes1 and many other fun things.

It’s so much fun to watch all this and join in part of it. I think I made new friends.

I’m really looking forward to when we’re able to actually share what’s been created.


  1. combined []