Olli the house builder

Yes. House. Me!

Well, I wont build it myself, I’ll have it built. But yes, I decided I want to get my own place, move back towards where I grew up and, OH MY GOD THIS IS HAPPENING.

Ok, breathe, Olli.

Here’s a timeline of what happened. About 6ish years ago I moved away from the place I grew up and into a rental appartment with my then girl-friend. It was the right thing to do, I don’t regret it. GIrlfriend stuff didn’t work out, but living alone was pretty neat. I was happy. Had you suggested to me to get my own house or buy a condo or something, I would have laughed it off.

Then, one weekend, I had a head cold and took a long bath with essential oils, eucalyptus, camphor and that stuff. Looking around the bathroom, I had my first epiphany.

“Hm. It’ll probably be difficult to get the landlords to renovate the bathroom.”

Followed by thoughts like “Well, I should probably at least consider not renting for the rest of my life” and “If I had my own place, the kitchen wold be a lot nicer.”

That same weekend I messaged my sister1 to see what she’d think about building a two-unit house to save on infrastructure and stuff. She liked the idea but their plans were already pretty fixed and wouldn’t have allowed for that. Starting with the building lot being too small for that.

I put my plan to rest for a bit, but it didn’t leave me. Then, when my toilet broke2 and I waited two weeks for my landlords to get it fixed, it broke out again.

I thought stuff like “if this was my place, I could’ve had it fixed by my dad or just called plumbers until one of them came in”.

Next I found myself researching construction companies, architects, loan conditions, central heating technologies and boom, one weekend in fall 2015 I told my nonplussed parents about my plan.

A few days after that I actually found a suitable building lot via local classifieds. Agreed on a price, started planning possible house layouts with a construction company.

Then the bank stuff began. I had a first loan offer, a panic attack, a second loan offer based on the reduced price of a slightly different house layout (original idea didn’t fit on the lot), more panic attacks when trying to find out if I could afford it.
Turns out I can.

Loans got approved by the bank and now I’m waiting for various paper work so I can finalize the land purchase, get the building people started and the kitchen plan finalized.

WOAH!

 

Footnotes
  1. who currently lives in Malaysia and will get her own place with her boyfriend when they’re back in a few years []
  2. no big deal, just inconvenience []

Olli the writer

First of all, sorry. I neglected my blogging duties far too…wait, does anyone even read these? Hello? Anybody out there?

Eh, whatever.

I stopped blogging regularly in September 2015. Which is weird, because there’s one blog post I actually wanted to do. I suppose I got caught up in stuff.1.

Many things happened. I did stuff, got to know awesome people, travelled some more2.

And, in September, I got published.

Here’s how it happened: Ages ago, I got inspired to write a story. I put it on my blog, asked people to read it, got some pretty nice feedback. Then I went on my infamous West Coast US vacation. On my first day I met up with Jennifer Brozek who I first met as a web comic character, then as a poster in a forum, then … well, things escalated and I think we’re friends now! :-D

We had dinner at the Space Needle, and as these things go, we chatted about writing. I mentioned the story and, guess what, Jennifer said: “Ooh, I think I remember that story. Is it the one where…?”
Me: “Yeeees?”
Jennifer: “Submit it. Maybe I’ll buy it.”
I submitted it when I returned and boom, a few month later I was a published author.

You can read “The Rescue” here.

Since then I’ve written two more stories inspired by various conversations, things and showers, and I’ve submitted both to various markets, with mixed success. I did get a few very encouraging personal rejections, and my writing got called “super super cute” among other things.

Since I’m not really a regular, an established writer or anything else but a hobbyist with a lack of discipline and a full time job, the rejections didn’t bother me that much, but I was kinda eager to get at least one of my stories, “Pads for his throne” out there.

Chance had it that I talked to Ivy Tara Blair, who loved the story and expressed interest in it.
She’s aweome. Get her audio books and listen to them. Special recommendation for A.K. Makansi’s “The Sowing”.

Anyway, that and the endless support and encouragement of other friends made me consider self-pubbing somewhere else than the blog.
I was hesitant, still am a little because it’s less than 4000 words. But one idea followed another, so here’s the current plan/status.

  • find editor, have story edited – CHECK
  • find illustrator and cover artist – in progress
  • create amazon author page – tbd
  • publish illustrated ebook – tbd
  • publish print-on-demand illustrated short story/coloring book – tbd
  • have audio book created – tbd
  • publish audio book – tbd
  • strike things of bucket list I never thought I’d do – tbd

 

Watch this space for news as events progress!

Footnotes
  1. lazy. I got lazy []
  2. yes, again! []

Cable storage tip!

Long story short: I found a bag of ziploc baggies of various sizes while looking for a certain USB cable.

Cables are pesky. Very. They tangle up on themselves and with each other, and you never find the one you need, because it’s knotted up with one that you don’t. So here’s a little idea:
Get a bunch of ziploc bags of various sizes. Spool up your cables. Dump them (and any small gadgets like USB wifi adapters, small chargers, etc) in a ziplop each, throw them all in the same drawer/box. Repeat whenever you find a cable/charger lying around that you’re not using within the next 24 hours.

– You’ll always know where to look
– bags are transparent, so you’ll always see what’s in them, easy to locate that ONE cable
– no tangling, easy rummaging

Family history

I don’t know much about my family history beyond my grandparents. I don’t even know much about that, it’s never really been a thing. But sometimes, at family gatherings, holidays, etc. stories get shared.

As some of you know, I am half French. My dad is German, my mom is French. I’ve been raised bilingually, spent many school holidays in France, up to four weeks at a time.
There’s more to it, though. My grandpa on my mom’s side used to be German. I knew he was from Husum, northern Germany, but that’s it. I never really asked, he was one of those impressive and a bit scary but also loving grandfather of 26 grandchildren1 in his lifetime. He wasn’t a huge person, his built was average, but his voice, demeanor and strictness scared most of us grandkids. He did have a soft spot in his heart for the German ones2, though.

He died a quiet death in his bed in 1997. I can’t remember if it was then or a few years later when my dad told me the story pépé ((French, affectionate word for grandfather)) had told him one night out on the porch, sharing a few beers.

Grandpa Rudolph was in the military, a stoker/machinist on a German submarine. Well, of course, he was born in one of the northern-most cities in Germany. I don’t know anything about that time in his life, except that the submarine was captured in Lorient, France, when the harbor was taken by the English. He ended up being a prisoner of war, tried to escape three times.
His first two attempts ended up with him being caught in a rowboat on the atlantic, and brought back into camp. On his third attempt he actually got all the way home, but the Mayor – who was a friend of the family, but still – had to send him back because he couldn’t produce any discharge papers from his prisonership. So he got taken back to France. That when he said “Fuck it”, and after being released he just stayed in France. By that time he must’ve gotten a fair command of at least French and English, so he made do with being a day-laborer.
At one point he ended up staying with a peasant for a while, essentially being a farmhand. The guy took a liking to him and in the end tried to marry his daughter off to him, so he’d have someone to pass on the farm. Pépé apparently didn’t like what he’d told my dad was one monster of a woman and fled during one night.

He later married my grandmother Gisèle and did a lot of different jobs from building to being a trucker, which got him to drive from Spain to Russia, from Sweden to Italy and pick up all sorts of languages. My mom apparently got some of the restlessness from him and spent time as an au-pair in London and Berlin, as a late teenager. Then she ended up spending some time in a tiny village in the Moselle valley, working as a waitress in the restaurant/bar my dad and the guys from the orchestra frequented at the time. He was 28ish, she was about 21. He asked her out, she went along to one of the orchestra gigs at a wine festival and nearly got scared off by the guys from the neighboring village telling her: “What? YOU WENT OUT WITH ONE OF THEM?”
In the end all went well, and when my dad told his mom that a) he was gonna be a dad and b) they were gonna get married anyway, she first freaked out and went: “I knew it! It was bound to happen, you always laid with her back in your room! I’m not gonna tell your grandma, that’s up to you.”
To which my dad replied: “FINE!” and went to his grandma, said: “Granny, I’m gonna be a dad!”
My great-grandma’s reply was classic: “Oh. Good. But you know, at your age this didn’t have to happen to you!”3.
My parents married in June 1981. I was born in October that year.

Footnotes
  1. my mom had 12 siblings []
  2. there’s 5 of us, my sis, 3 cousins and me []
  3. as in, don’t get stuck with a kid, you should be smarter than that. but not in a mean way []

Lonely.

What do you call an introvert that seems like an extrovert when around people he’s really comfortable with?

Nothing. You don’t call him, because apparently you assume he’s busy being a crazy social butterfly, fending off people wanting to spend time with him.1

Today was just one of the days I realized this.
I got the crazy idea to text a group of people. Five couples, to be specific. A few guys I went to school with and have known for more than half my life plus their significant others.
It’s only been a few hours, but I am not really hopeful, for some reason.

I first asked if anyone had time to go have dinner on the weekend of my birthday, in two and a half weeks.
One of the couples replied that they were busy. Their acoustic trio has a gig the day before and tickets for a musical on that day. Fair enough.
After realizing that the weekend before would actually be better for me, since my birthday weekend also is the weekend of the wine festival my orchestra organizes.
So I suggested going for that weekend instead and offered to kill a few bottles of wine with whoever joins me on the actual birthday weekend.
Couple 2: We won’t be available on your birthday but probably could do something on the weekend before.
Couple 3: no reply yet. I know, it only has been a few hours, but I don’t really expect a timely response anymore. I really like them, and it’s mutual, it’s just that they’re notoriously bad at replying to text or picking up their phone, something that hasn’t gotten better since they had their kid a year ago. I still tried. You never know.
Couple 4 and 5 I only added just in case they happen to be in the area. They live 200 respectively 700 or so kilometers away, but who knows, I might get lucky.

That’s just one occurence, I know, but it feels typical.
People seem to assume I’m busy or something even if I tell them I’m usually not. Hell, I’d probably jump at ANY opportunity if someone texted me and said “hey, let’s go get a burger/movie/ice cream/go bowling/throw rocks at stupid people.” I’d drive an hour for any of that.
People don’t.
“Why don’t you reach out?”
When I was a kid, my parents described me as shy. I guess I kinda am. Once I warm up to people, it doesn’t show in conversations. Certainly not on twitter. Some of you have met me, have had dinner with me, played Cards Against Humanity with me, went to the zoo with me, even travelled with me for a bit. You’ve met me at my best and happiest. Among people who wanted to spend time with me and made it clear.

Sure, I meet people every week(ish) at orchestra rehearsal, but I don’t count that as spending time with friends. It’s a thing I do, but that’s mostly it. I also have tons of coworkers and usually have fun with them, but work is the focus then. That’s it.
On any given working day, the average number of words spoken to people I don’t somehow work with or that I buy food from is zero-ish.
Usually, I get home from work and spend the rest of they day talking to people on twitter and IRC, maybe watch a tv show or movie on bluray or netflix.

I used to meet up with couple 3 a lot, before they had the kid, for regular board game nights. That died down after a while, when more people we played with got busy and parts of their own lives (university, job) changed.

Sure, I could ask them, the other local friends or some of the coworkers that don’t live two hours away from me to do stuff, but it’s not that easy to me. They do have lives and partners and other friends of their own. They have other stuff they do regularly that eats up some time. And there’s the little fact that I already feel imposing when I ask some coworkers if they mind me tagging along on their lunch break. I know they don’t mind, I’m pretty sure they’d tell me if they did. But still, it’s how I feel, can’t change much about that. I occasionally do join them when time permits, but if that sometimes feels awkward to me, imagine how difficult it is to be the one to constantly have to ask people to spend their free time with, if almost nobody else ever initiates.

A former coworker who’d moved away is now back in the area, only a 25 minute drive from where I live, less from work, we already met up for dinner once, vowed to do that more often, I guess that’s something, and I’m really glad.

Other than that: sure, I have my “social circles” on twitter and irc and other people I mostly talk to via the internet, but having some of your closest friends being anything between 200 and 10.000km away, I still sometimes am really fucking lonely.

Ok, that’s enough, brb, gonna go donate to Syrian refugees. If you can afford it, think about doing it. I suggest this place to start: Pat Rothfuss’ blog with a link to his worldbuilders fundraiser

 

 

Footnotes
  1. Another acceptable answer would have been: Lonely. Really fucking lonely. []

Maui 2015 – The last full day

My last day on Maui was pretty relaxed. I started by driving to Maalea Harbor again to check out the aquarium and its seafood restaurant1 and was pleasantly surprised.

The aquarium was fun, educational and a nice place to just sit down and relax. I honestly just spent half an hour sitting on a bench and reading, just enjoying myself.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

When it was reasonably lunch-timey I went to check out the restaurant and damn! For an inside-tourist-trap2 the service and price range was actually amazing.

And the food! Delicious!+ Just look at this beauty!WP_20150528_12_35_01_Pro

 

The rest of the day was spent driving around a few places that I’d had recommended for swimming, snorkeling, etc, but I guess traveling alone I should’ve prepared for those things differently. I didn’t regret it though. In the evening I went back to Whaler’s Village, Leilani’s again and decided to splurge for one last time.
It was glorious. I did have a very good waitress and probably was just way to comfortable for my own good, so I got a Mango Flow, got talked into trying the best sword fish tacos I could imagine and finished up with their sorbet trio, strawberry, mango-papaya and dragonfruit. That and the scenery made for a nice final evening of my vacation. Oh, and I also got to help recently arrived Australians to plan their time on Maui, confirming what the waitress told them about it being rather chilly up on Mt. Haleakala. That was fun!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

And that pretty much wraps up my vacation. I mean, yes, I checked out of the hotel the next day, had a rather nice breakfast in Lahaina, got rid of my trusty rental jeep and flew back to San Francisco. I also got really lucky because my baggage had arrived with an earlier flight since I had checked in so early. That way I managed to get the last of the free shuttle buses to the hotel. It was after midnight, after all. The nearby McDonalds being closed put a dampener on things because I WAS kinda hungry, but what can you do?

The next day ways spent getting from San Francisco to Frankfurt, from Frankfurt to my parents place and from my parents place to mine. The next week was filled with the mother of all jetlags, and after a while I started blogging and BOOM, here we are, see you next time!

.

Footnotes
  1. no kidding []
  2. zoos, aquariums, amusement parks etc usually have interesting ideas about food prices []

Maui 2015 – Snorkeling and hanging loose

As a substitute for my originally planned whale watching trip on Maui1 I had booked a snorkelling trip supposed to take me to Molokini and Turtle Arches. No turtles, though, since we stayed at Molokini the whole time. Captain’s decision because the weather was a bit choppy that day and we wouldn’t have seen much at the second stop.

EosRoadtrip 1622

The trip was booked via/organized by the Pacific Whale Foundation in Maalea Harbour and I have only good things to say about them. They were focused on safety and relaxation, gave us fruit and other stuff for breakfast, plenty of water, even a lunch and drink was included. The part that impressed me most and which made me tip generously: a choice diving masks with various diopters for the nearsighted. Like me. No additional surcharge. And they offered wetsuit tops to rent out for an additional tenner, which was totally acceptable. And is a good idea to avoid getting sunburned or cold from staying in the not that warm pacific for more than an hour. While the more experienced snorkelers dove off the various options of the boat, the captain himself offered a short lesson, introduction to snorkelling, covering tips and tricks, how to effectively use the equipment, how to be safe so that everyone would be able enjoy the swim with minimum hassle. Just brilliant.

PxRoadtrip 173

And that’s pretty much all that is to say. We enjoyed snorkelling, diving, swimming, paddling, looking at fishes we could even see from above the surface. Here’s a digest of pics from the half-day cruise!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

That of course only covered half the day. The other half I enjoyed exploring Whaler’s Village in Lahaina, within walking distance from my hotel. I took pictures of birds, went to the whalers’ museum and had a burger at Leilani’s. Yum!

 

 

 

Footnotes
  1. pro-tip: no humpbacks after mid-may, no whale watching trips on maui []

Roadtrip 2015 – Meeting up in San Francisco

After three days of constantly being shunned by cats and not being danced for by the bird, Cairn finally had to let me go. It was time to see new places and people, and give the cats a break from hiding. I waited a bit to avoid the worst of the traffic and stopped twice on my way from Sacramento to San Francisco. Once at my probably last chance to get Chick-Fil-A on this road trip.1

The second stop was right before going down past Vallejo, but nothing spectacular happened there. The weather was so-so, no animals, the view was mediocre so I did the next thing on my schedule. I crossed the Bay Bridge and entered San Francisco.

PxRoadtrip 103

Sadly it was still a little hazy, so the view from Twin Peaks, which was not exactly optimal. Driving up through those steep streets was VERY interesting though. Thank photoshop for clearing up the haze and thank automatic cars. I’ve driven stick all my life, but that …

EosRoadtrip 942 EosRoadtrip 952After that I headed down to Fisherman’s Wharf to check into my hotel. Took me only two rounds around the block to find the entrance to the $50-a-night-parking garage. I was rather happy that I’d only need it for one night. Next up, after freshening up at the hotel was a new exciting meet-up.
Justin, who I used to play Eve Onlin with, had immediately started preparing when he heard I’d be coming to California and forced his brother to join him on a 6 or 7 hour drive from Lake Arrowhead just to meet up with me. And get back home the next day because they had to be at a wedding. You should totally check out his stuff, he’s an amazing artist. And a really cool guy.
We met up in the hotel lobby and he admitted that it felt sort of like a first date. Well, yeah, it can be interesting meeting people in person for the first time. We got over that fairly quick, had a stroll along the Embarcadero, checking out the piers, the sealions until we got back to Pier 39 to eat at Bubba Gump’s. I’d totally recommend that. Depending on where you are (I assume) you’ll always get tourist trap prices, but the quality, service and atmosphere are worth it. Just check out the slideshow, you’ll see what I mean. Well, part of it.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The Coronarita was excellent and so was the food. And the company of course. After we finished stuffing our faces and got our souvenirs stowed away at our hotel rooms we ended the day in a nearby pub with a few beers.

And thus endeth my first daye in ye olde San Francisco. Or something like that.

 

Footnotes
  1. It was okay for chicken based fast food. Would not go out of my way to have it again. []

Roadtrip 2015 – Goldrush

As if showing me part of the most gorgeous scenery in the western U.S. wasn’t enough, awesome Cairn treated me to something else on my second full day visiting her. Which was as well since the cats still weren’t to pleased by my existence.

But first she showed me around old Sacramento so I could see old buildings, the Wells Fargo Museum and the Pony Express statue! Look here:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

After that (and a well-deserved breakfast at Eggie’s we hit the road towards Coloma, the place of the original gold findings in California and the start of the gold rush. We even arrived there after taking only one wrong turn into the barren wildernis that is California. At the national park we hiked about a bit, joked with the park ranger, took pictures, bought a plastic pan and tried our luck on the banks of the draught-ridden and therefor not-so-mighty American river.

And guess what:EosRoadtrip 935

 

Gold!

Well…a little. And we lost it again. But we had fun, and that’s what matters. So here’s a bunch of pretty and informative pictures, including signs that scared me. And made me hope to actually see some of the animals mentioned on them. No such (bad) luck, though. Still, good times were had by all. Thanks again, Cairn!

After that we headed home, found another funny vanity plate and had dinner at that Mexican place, where I had watermelon agua fresca which is probably the best drink ever ever ever ever and I really need to make some here and find a container to bring it to work.

EosRoadtrip 936

Roadtrip 2015 – Yosemite

While Cairn’s cat continued to shun meEosRoadtrip 755 I got a big dose of hospitality today. After starting the day with a berry big breakfast at the Black Bear Diner, my awesome hosts drove me all the way to Yosemite National Park to take pictures of rocks and waterfalls and squirrels and stuff. We had tons of fun on this road trip within the roadtrip even if the weather wasn’t ideal at times. Vanity Plates and bumper stickers provided some entertainment as well, but the main attraction was the quite beautiful scenery of the national park itself. And some of the fattest squirrels I’ve ever seen, darting around between the visitors protecting their sandwiches from them at the visitor center. I didn’t take a picture of those, though. No fatshaming squirrels.1

As you’ll see in the slideshow below, Yosemite is worth a look even when it isn’t bright blue sky all around, so here’s what we saw gallivanting about the park itself!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

After seeing all that we drove back Sacramento-wards, only stopping to pick up our well-deserved dinner at this place:

EosRoadtrip 898“Wait, what?” the non-US ones of you will say. Wiener Schnitzel? In the States? As fast food, by the looks of it?

Nope. It’s a hot dog chain.

“So what?” the Americans not “in-the-know” will say.

Let me explain.

THIS is a Wiener Schnitzel.

click me

 

Footnotes
  1. also my camera was in the car at the time []