Sunday, June 12, 2011

First Week

I did my 'first day' blog recently, and I was just thinking how I don't have much more to say about my first week at work--and then it started coming back.

Somewhere around Tuesday or Wednesday, I asked about a once-promised bike.  Johanna gave me her's (one of her's ?), a rundown, slightly rusted bike with a pink deflated balloon and some dead leaves in the carrier basket.  Also, the brakes didn't work.  At least, not the brakes I'm familiar with.

See, the only bikes I've ridden in the last ten years are mountain bikes where the left and right hand levers control the front and back wheel brakes.  So, when neither of those worked [there was a 'dead' kind of feeling in them, and a kind of 'exhausted' sound coming from the wheels when I tried], I just decided that I would ride really slow.  It worked, coming home the first time (I got it at work)--I would slow-ride up to an intersection, or any place someone could possibly be coming from where I wouldn't be able to avoid them, and stop.  Then I'd look around, see nothing, and continue forward.

I got home faster than by walking (and no injuries)--so it was a 'win' for me.  As for where to put the thing, remember the exceptionally large hallway for our flat?  Well, that's not what happened--but I thought of that too, so good guess.

Actually, I've seen an appalling lack of bike-related-security in Quakenbruck (having come from Gainesville, the bike-stealing capital of the world).  I imagine that, around here, the lack of chains, locks, or indoor housing is a result of a) No bike thieves; and b) No bikes worth stealing.

So I get home, pick up the bike, and carry it up the stairs to the front door.  Then I carry it upstairs to my flat and hit Oliver.  He sees the bike and tells me there's a storage space under the staircase I can use (right next to his bike), so I carry it back downstairs and put it under the staircase.

Thus begins my twice daily bike ballet routine.  Every morning I go to work: I go downstairs, open the door-behind-the-front-door-under-the-staircase, knock up the kick-stand, pick up the bike by the seat and handlebars, bring it back from besides Oliver's bike, maneuver it sideways over the staircase without falling down (there's a staircase under the staircase inside the storage space [I've never fallen down]), choose not to deal with the finicky latched second door (the fewer doors you open the less enemies you have to battle), turn the handle bars so the front wheel goes through the doorway (using the tire to fight the door trying to close on me), wheel it out into the hallway beside the staircase and the front door and the pediatrician's door (sometimes I'll have to fight the sick German children to get out the front door [they'll cut ya down if'n yer not car'fl]), open the front door (which is big, heavy, and tries to close on you before you can get out) while trying to keep the bike upright, wheel it out onto the landing, carry it down the stairs, and finally wait for traffic to die down so I can cross the street.

Oliver taught me how to peddle in reverse to activate a rear-wheel brake, and it worked well.

All that being said, most of my first week at work was spent studying the Waveform Generator, the Oscilloscope, and the German version of Windows (I think some commands are moved around so you can't go completely from memory, also I'm pretty sure you can't get an English Microsoft Office without buying another OS) [thank God the internet is still in English].  I ended up not using either of the Waveform Generators because the setup of interlocking all the cables was overly complicated and the analog knobs were too-easily skewed by a wayward hand (making a uniform testing setup impossible).

The Oscilloscope had its own generator, this seemed to do the best job of separating the outgoing from the incoming pulses.  I ended up going to the tech-place a dozen times over the first week, continually asking for more and longer cables ("We need to separate the signal more!"), getting wires cut and new connectors attached, soldering things, it was all really very fascinating to watch.  In retrospect it wasn't that much time, but  living through it was a very long time before I ever got around to sticking a probe into anything.

I finally got the Oscilloscope's generator working consistently, manage to do some simple analysis techniques with German Excel, and got a constant setup of cords and software settings working.

At least, I think that all happened in the first week...

Next time, "The Netto Has Everything!"


  1. I was so happy to see a new post. Any chance we can get a picture of the bike? Does everyone carry dead leaves in the carrier basket - standard issue? Has the pink balloon been attached for days, weeks months or years?

    Nice use of 'pirate talk' - or at least that's what it sounded like in my mind when you were warding off the sick children.

    Hard to believe you've been there over a month! You keep posting when you can - we love reading it!

  2. You are a braver sole than I am. Riding a bike with little braking. There is a pediatrician in your building? How convenient if you wipe out on your bike. Must be businesses and residential are mixed together, unlike here for the most part. Do their doctors make house calls? I bet you are looking forward to your parents visit, they are and we are all jealous.

  3. Your bike ballet sounds like it could be a new Olympic sport! Glad you made it through that first week (it's always the hardest). Love your stories! Love you and miss you.

    Aunt Mary

  4. I am a little jealous of Oliver getting to tell you about the bike brake, it is a fathers job. I found myself wondering what else have I not taught you. Remind me to show you how to fall off a horse. Don't tell your Aunt Alice that it involves falling on another person to do it correctly.