Too Plugged In?

My world is shifting from feeling somewhat disconnected to way too plugged in. With the time-change between Canada and Austria, it is important I check my email first thing in the morning as well as late at night. And now that I’m trying to boost business in Europe, I’m getting mail throughout the regular workday as well.

In order to keep myself organized, I have my three email addresses on separate accounts (forwarding them to one inbox was way too confusing), so that means two web browsers open and frequent checks throughout the day.

I’ve installed TweetDeck so that I can see activity on my personal twitter account, work twitter account, LinkedIn, Facebook and various twitter searches (such as “Pug Pharm”) at one glace.  Update, retweet, repeat as necessary.

My Skype is on all the time I’m at the computer, so I see the online/offline activities of my contacts popping up throughout the day. I occasionally have more than one chat conversation going on at the same time.

And I don’t even have a smart phone yet! With my obsessive tendencies, this could get very scary very fast.

Daily Blogging

I signed up for NaBloPoMo without much forethought. Just went on instinct (which I’m trying to listen to more) and habit. (This is the fourth November I’ve done this.) And I’m so glad I did!

I love taking the time (forcing myself?) to reflect on me, the day, my family. It feels good to record these moments of our lives. I also love, love, LOVE, comments! I’ve had exchanges with good friend, people I haven’t been in touch with for a while, and total strangers who have discovered my blog (and I’ve discovered theirs in return.)

And for family and friends far away, I know they appreciate having a more regular glimpse into our lives…as well as the pictures of Annie, of course.

I’m grateful for having discovered blogging, and I’m very grateful for everyone who shares it with me. With all my heart, thank you.

Better Busy

It has been busy lately. I am working more with both of my contracts, work that is more interesting, more challenging, more stressful. I was off to London last week for a work-related conference and I hit Hamburg next week to give a presentation to about 60 German business people on gamification. (In English, thanks to all that is holy.) Annie is in swimming twice a week and dance class once a week, plus various and sundry play-dates which are a requirement like air to breath for my über-social daughter. Markus continues to work mostly 6 days a week, although now that the summer is over, he is home for dinner some days, which is lovely.

And what is up with so many people  in my world having birthdays in October and November? I’m not willing (yet) to give up the hand-made birthday cards, but I’m thinking that the 60+ hand-made Christmas cards may not happen this year.

I’ve been feeling busy. And then a thought went through my head, as I knew it would. “Wouldn’t it be lovely just to have time to do crafts, organize my house, go for walks and hikes in the Alps?” the thought mused. And then, luckily, the remembering part of my brain chimed in and said, “Um…the summer of 2010? Hello??”

Right. I had nothing but time for several months two summers ago. Annie was in…school? daycare?…5 hours a day, 5 days a week. I took no German class, had no work, had no outside obligations of any kind. Oodles and oodles of time to do the things that I love most in life, learn new skills, connect with people, explore, get in shape. I sat on the couch. For hours and hours at a time. I don’t even remember if I turned on the T.V.  I just remember sitting there day after day.

So for me, it isn’t about having time. It is about having energy, something that I have struggled with most of my life. (As my family knows, who are driven mad with me constantly answering “tired” when asked how I am.) And right now, with big life changes on the horizon, and a happy and active daughter, and work that is interesting and that I am really good at…that give me energy. I may not be able to fit in making Christmas cards this year,  but it is a hell of a lot better than sitting on the couch. So to busyness I say, “Thank you!”

Light at the End of the Tunnel?

I’ve been a bit wary to post this update…I still retain a bit of that childhood fear of jinxing things.

I’ve been feeling more positive about our financial future the last few weeks, contrary to any actual evidence. It just felt like better things to come were in the air. But then last Friday did seem like a concrete turn around, as we had a great day at the cafe and then officially secured the catering contract for the Provincial government. This was the first of two things that have to happen for us to make this new business work; the second is a strong summer season….so only time will tell on that one.

I also have a three-month retainer from Lesli for her business management. It is only 5 hours a week, but it is steady work and I enjoy it greatly and maybe can build from there.

Keep your fingers crossed and thumbs pressed (die Daumen drücken) that these are positive signs of things to come!

I Did It!

Yeah for me! NaBloPoMo is done, and I made it through posting every day of November.

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the Internet. Internet, without you, my life would be far less…and more. Less educational, as you are always a source of news, facts, German translations and odd tidbits of knowledge. Less of a mother, as you provide me with endless craft ideas, parenting tips and inspirational messages. Less of a community member, as the blogs I read from friends and strangers alike make me feel connected to people throughout the world. And far, far more lonely. I can’t even imaging what this crazy adventure to another country would be like without Skyping and blogging and emailing and Facebooking with the people who are most important to me. Impossible, I suspect.

So even though it is so long for now, you’ll be hearing from me soon.

A Memory Like a ….?

I was watching Grey’s Anatomy last night (ya, ya, keep your judgements to yourself) and for some reason it reminded me that for a brief period in my life I thought I wanted to be a doctor.

There are many reasons why this would have never worked, but probably the most basic is that I have absolutely no memory for proper nouns. I never have. Even as a child it took me forever to remember someone’s name. Names, places, dates (hahahahahah dates!) all are mostly inaccessible from my brain. (My amazing grandmother could tell you every date in our family history…births, deaths, major events. I guess as far as that lineage goes, I am, as Scar would say, at the shallow end of the gene pool.)

I’m fine with common nouns I use every day, but anything out of the ordinary takes ages to remember, if at all. Can you just imagine me in a medical situation?

The patient is coding, the nurse turns to me and says “Doctor, what should we do?” I look at him and say, “Inject his central line with…, um, yeah, you know, that thing that will keep him from dying.”

I managed to make it through school as I have quite a good “extended” short-term memory. For a day or two I can carry facts around like a water pitcher filled to the brim. Carefully I would make my way to school, only spilling a few nouns on the way, and then sit down to the exam. I would open the exam book with gusto and pour the knowledge all over the page. And then it was pretty much gone. Oh, I’d soak up a few drops of information from the saturated paper, and these facts would even occasionally jump on the synapse train to make it into my long-term memory (mixed metaphor!). But mostly, the information was completely gone.

I do have a fantastic memory for concepts, and am also talented at taking two concepts and finding a connection between them that is interesting and useful, so things like English Literature and business management are fine. But anything where I’m responsible for a schwack of proper nouns? Forget it.

But I guess we all have our strengths and weaknesses. Even you. Yes you, over there. Whatever your name is.

Waste not…

Ryan, in typical Ryan fashion, sent me a rather interesting blog post idea. He forwarded me a link to this image:

Typical North American urinal

He went on to say: “Likely, as a woman, this sight is quite unfamiliar to you. Using round numbers, NA guys see this 2-3 mins. day. I’ve been an adult 20 years so I’ve been awkwardly staring at the fact that 1 gallon = 3.8 liters for easily 200-300 hours.  In fact, a member of the first cohort of the Canadian ‘metrification’, gallons to litres remains the *only* imperial to metric measure I have clearly memorized.”

You seriously crack me up Ryan!

His other point is that apparently American Standard monopolizes NA urinals, while there are a wide variety on offer in Europe. I, obviously, wouldn’t know. What I do know is that when I first toured our new apartment, I was shocked to see this in the main floor guest bathroom:

This is IN MY HOUSE!

I’m not exactly sure why, but urinals make me think of hockey arenas and beer-swilling drunk men. (Must be some scarring experience in childhood I’ve repressed.) They totally gross me out. Markus tries to tell me that they are actually more hygenic than normal toilets. Whatever…if he wants to use it, he can clean it, that’s all I’m saying.

What I do find absolutely confounding, though, is that the regular toilets here have flat bottoms instead of having a bowl-shape like in NA. I’m not going to go into too much detail, but just think about the implications of that for a second. Let’s just say that the toilet brush gets a lot more use here than in NA.

An even more oddly, our newly renovated apartment has three toilets, two of which have a flat bottom and one which is a regular bowl shape. They all look new as far as I can tell. Why would the owners mix it up like that? You would think someone would have a preference for one type or the other and stick with it.

Oh, I could go on…but I can hear the Internet pleas to stop already. I’ll sum up then by saying that this illustrates one of the many, many differences that I never imagined having to deal with. Sometimes the world isn’t as “global” as we would like to think.

Is This a Choice?

Another busy day, another short blog post. Back to the Twitter feed:

Would you rather be wealthy and ugly, wise and sickly, or beautiful and stupid?

Is this for real? Seriously? There are people in the world who would choose to be stupid? Or sickly??!! (Take it from someone who was in constant pain for 8 months, nothing, oh nothing, is worth sickly.)

I quickly searched the net and there were listing for other answers, but I realized if I have time to read those posts, I have time to write about something better than this drivel that I’m currently writing about. So I’ll just say I go for choice #1, spend all (O.K. most of) my money on worthy causes, and hope that I at least would be sexy ugly.

Best-laid Plans

(I had to look it up to make sure I was spelling “Best-laid” properly. It looks weird.)

There are lots of advantages to being self-employed. Both Markus and I have worked as employees and as our own bosses. Markus, in particular, seems to be much happier when he isn’t answering to someone else, whereas I can see the advantages of a contained job description that comes from working for someone else’s company. (Because when you work for yourself in a small business, your job is “everything that needs to be done at all times”.)

Markus has been working 6 days a week, almost every week, for the past 3 months. Today he had structured the work schedule to have tonight off. His friend from Canada, Mara, and her son, Julian, are here for one night on a stop-over during a European trip. We invited some local friends over to have dinner with us as well. So you can see where this is going……..

Due to a problem with staff, Markus had to jump in and work tonight. We canceled the Innsbruck friends, I’m picking up Mara and Julian at the train station and then we are going to go to visit with Markus at the cafe. I’m sure it will still be nice, just different than planned.

I’ve always been someone who is good at embracing change on the big scale, but have difficulty being flexible on the fly. (Unless plans are completely canceled and I get to stay home and do my own thing; I’m almost always up for that.) I guess life never fails to give us the opportunity to learn the things we need to learn. Sigh.

Peace or Freedom?

I’m doing a shorter post today, so went to the twitter feed of blog post ideas to see if I could find anything quick.

Instead I saw this: “What is more important: peace or freedom?” This is a question that nations have been founded on and millions of words have been written discussing this topic. It is also a topic that I consider much more American than Canadian for some reason.

So what can I say about it in a short blog post? Well, that I am deeply, vastly grateful, that I have never been in a position in my life where I have had to chose, to give up one for the other. Because as left wing and peace-loving as I am, if I had to live in a world where I wasn’t basically free to wear or say or write what I wanted, I wouldn’t value my life very much anymore. For me, just being alive isn’t enough.

Of course, there isn’t such a thing as total freedom, and more than of course, even if I say or do or wear what I want, it isn’t consequence free. But I get to examine those consequences before I take action and mostly decide for myself if I can live with them. I’ve met and studied with people who have lost literally everything because they weren’t so lucky to be born in a country that values freedom. So I feel closer to this subject than I did a few years ago.

And still I have no idea what I would do if I was faced with the direct choice of peace or freedom. Could I kill someone else to keep my freedom? Or my family’s freedom? Would I risk my life or the life of my children to fight oppression? I now have people in my family history who fought for Hitler and who fought against Hitler. I have voted for people who had to make the choice between peace or freedom…or at least between peace or war. And they believed freedom was at stake, and maybe it was. I’ll never know. It is all so not black and white to me.

It certainly could be argued that I’m just passing on the decision, the choice, the battle to someone else. And that is probably correct.

So I am just going to thank every God imagined that I have been blessed with a peaceful life in a free society. And pray that Annie is given the same gift in her life. It is perhaps the greatest gift of all.