Progress on the Renewable Energy front

November 28, 2009

the internet has been cutting out staendig all morning and it’s been totally annoying.  Good thing I’ve been gone the past 4 hours. 🙂

I got picked up at. 10.10am at the Schlecker on Talstrasse across by the Treff.  There was Dr. Josef Pesch, I guess one of the professors of the ReNewMan (it’s a new word i’ve invented for the abbreviated version of renewable energy management but i think it’s got a nice ring to it) who has a company called fesa that does sustainable energy projects.  mid-40s, had just come back from giving a presentation and knowledge about solar projects to the Canadian province of Ontario, and on Tuesday is flying to Cincinnati to give another presentation!!! This guy said he wouldn’t be able to meet until dec 18, when i will be, and then wrote well, you can come on this interview thing i have to do.

So it’s him, his teenage son and 3 Japanese people: a cameraman, a director/producer and an interpreter that has lived in Freiburg for 30 years.  She also teaches a japanese cooking class at the volkshochschule.

We drive past Waldsee past the Moeslestadion to the B31 and a view from a slight distance on a bridge going over the train tracks.  I tried to take a couple of pictures and then Josef, his son and me were instructed to walk along the bridge while Josef tells us stuff about solar energy and when the project was constructed (it’s a fascinating story, 80 investors from the 79117 postal code where the solar Anlage is and of course bank capital).  We did the walk again because the japanese producer dude wanted another shot and then we stood on the bridge and Josef told us more.  Then we were all interviewed very briefly and then we went over to the electrical center that collects the energy the solar panels create/save/capture.  They took some video and then we all went back to his office.  He asked me to come back there with all of them even though …I don’t know, so I just said ok.  And then the Japanese people interviewed him at his desk for about 45 minutes, with the japanese translation of his long sometimes complex answers right after what he said.  Occasionally the director (weird checkered pants, dark sweater, sparse facial hair, bushy hair and with a slight lisp or speech impediment).  Neither of the 2 Japanese tv dudes could speak English.  I mostly spoke German with the Japanese lady.

On the drive to his office that led to this long interview the son and I more or less patiently watched happen, Josef told me about a project he is working on in Bahlingen (not the one near Freiburg sondern in Wuertemberg 2 hours away.  He said I could help him with the project (!!!) and said that at the beginning i couldn’t get paid but maybe later.  We didn’t make any specifics, I told him I could do a day a week or so and we made plans to meet the first week of the year and figure out a plan for me to do some kind of internship there!!!  Considering he is I’m pretty sure one of the professors involved in the Renewable Energy Management program that could potentially help me a LOT.

ps on the off chance that gave me this hook-up now reads the blog, thanks a lot dude.  I owe you a beer fo sho.

pss got the newest black crowes’ show from san diego from Sunday blasting in the headphones

psss bought some deer meat for dinner tonight!


The day after 35

May 25, 2009

A hot lazy weekend was my 35th birthday.  Hung with some friends on Friday afternoon and evening, then spent the whole day on Saturday with Franziska.  We hiked to the top of the local mountain which kicked our ass and then we got back and she cooked an amazing dinner of asparagus and schnitzel, then she baked me a cheesecake for my birthday which was perfect!

Sunday we slept until 11am and then after a nice breakfast, met some friends for a late lunch early dinner at a restaurant outside of town.  Simple food, cheap drinks and warm weather was a nice capper to the birthday.  We got home around 8pm and spent the rest of the evening just being together and having a great time.  We woke up around 9-9:30am today and both were grateful we didn’t have to work today.  I got a haircut, did some lesson plans and now am trying not to melt before I do some typing.  I have about 75 pages typed so far and I’m quite happy about that.  I plan to do some writing this weekend so that when I come back from Israel I can just write about Israel and it will be fresh and real in my mind.

How are you?

What does 35 mean?  It seems to have meant more to others than to me but I am quite happy with my life.  I would like to change a few things, namely healthier eating and living, being more productive and less lazy.  However, I like who I am, I love my life, I love the woman I am with. It’s important to find the happy medium between satisfied with life and striving for more.  I am somewhere between those.

Helga’s childhood in Stuttgart during the war

May 9, 2009

I’ve corrected the grammar for her but this is her story of her childhood during the war. It’s quite moving, don’t you think?


Some memories from my youth during the last war in Stuttgart

I was about 8 years old when war broke out. I was going to school in the lower class but for long because it wasn’t possible to have school so we had to take a break. There was always a large, packed bag next to the door with all of our very important things in it, anything we would need if we had to take refuge in the cellar of the house if the bomb alert sounded. I screamed and my hands held the banister leading down the cellar very tightly, and my mother hurried with me the longer way to the official bunker down the street. The siren went off often, day and night. Most families were hurrying into the bunker, of course always with their luggage and all they could carry. My mother was alone with me – like other women – because all men were in the war.

My parents had a hairdresser’s shop. In the evenings when the shop was closed some special customers would visit us. They were Jewish women coming for a haircut. It was forbidden to service such people. I had to go to bed early in the evening because I shouldn’t see the customers and the symbol they had on their clothes. It was a big Jewish star. One day, it was the last time they came to us, they said they would be sent away. This was her last journey to somewhere. They were sent to the gas chambers.

One day the air raid siren sounded and my mother was running with me, the big luggage and the heavy hairdryer down the street and into the bunker. I only dragged our pillows with me. When we arrived at the bunker, hundreds of people were standing close to each other. No one had space inside and then the big thick door closed. It was very calm in the bunker – I think people were praying in this moment to God for help. Suddenly the first bombs started falling again and again for a long time. I will never forget the sound of those bombs for the rest of my life. First, a whistle and then the explosion with the air pressure.

It was calm outside and the air raid was finished. The air raid siren sounded off again so we knew it was over. Then the door opened. It was the most terrible sight I had ever seen in my young life. All houses in the long street left and right as far as I could see were burning and the air was very hot. The air stank and between were explosions in the house and walls were falling down.

The race began. We hurried through the city to my aunt to ask her if we could stay with her. She only had two rooms. We could stay and the neighborhood came there for their hairdressing. One day my father came back from war and were five people in two small rooms. Some organization from the city sent us a foreign woman to live with us too. At that time, each family must fill their apartments with foreigners.

And now the famine began for each of us. The food supply was very small, only enough to eat so we could survive and not starve. My mother took a bed sheet and other things we had saved to the farmers for an egg or a small piece of butter. We walked with a small cart through the city up to a village for some hours. This was normal at the time. Everybody had to do this. The shelves in the bakery were empty. We could only buy a dark, damp bread. It wasn’t made of whole meal. It wasn’t possible to buy clothes or shoes either. I was growing up very fast and had only one pair of shoes. The problem was that I couldn’t stretch my toes in them. My clothes were too short, too.

One day we got a care package from America. It was distributed by the Church to poor people. Inside the package were a can of milk powder, a bit of chocolate and egg powder. I got a light pink dress with short sleeves. It fit me perfectly and I was very proud of it. I now had two dresses. In school we each got a small plate of warm food everyday. It was called Homer Speisring, named after a general. Once we got toothpaste. We ate this like peppermint candy.

This was part of my life.

I’ll get to that

April 16, 2009

I couldn’t think of a subject line for line so I”ll just get on with it.  After a couple of weeks as a “Strohwitwe” which translates to  “electricity widow” but means being a bachelor because the old ball and chain wasn’t around finally came to an end last night.  The last time that Franziska and I had seen each other was March 29th in San Francisco.  We’re quite the jet-setting couple no doubt.  We’re off to Israel next month.  Anyway, just in keeping with how it’s been the last couple of weeks, she got up at 8 in the morning and like a dream whisped herself from my room and I won’t see her again until tomorrow night most likely! Her parents are here with her and they are having some quality family time, something I can definitely understand seeing as that I live 6,000 miles from home.

I ended up waking up with her and was actually jogging by 9:30 this morning.  The weather is not nearly as good as it has been the past 2 weeks but it was plenty good enough to go jogging.  This is going to be crucial for me to get back into the habit of exercising.  Ok, when it’s raining I won’t go jogging but the weather is more or less always going to be warm enough now and also, I have some weights here and know enough to do a workout if necessary but I am also signed up at good ole’ Fitness Studio California again, at least for this month and next month before Israel.

After jogging, I enjoyed a smoothie with banana, frozen mango, papaya and berries, milk and apple juice.  I’m still in the process of putting as many of my cds onto my hard drive and external hard drive.  I’ve been doing this for about a week now and have put on about a hundred new cds.  It’s great because I’m putting myself in a position where I don’t really need to buy any cds for awhile.  I’m sure there may be the occasional impulse or need (new Black Crowes, Ryan Adams, et al.) but let me give you an example.  Right now, I’m putting on a live Pearl Jam show from 1998 that I actually attended in July 1998 at the Fabulous Forum in Los Angeles.  The next cd up is Louis Armstrong.  This is time consuming and my laptop hasn’t enjoyed the prostitue-like abuse the cd drive has taken but getting all this on the two hard drives means that when I move someday, I won’t really have to deal with most of them.  I’ll probably have a little street sale and sell them for 2 euros or something.

I also attacked a large pile of work papers I had to deal with.  I threw some out, filed some, coallated some to photocopy next week for the beginning of the semester.  It’s now an orderly in-tray for work.

I’m going to make some lunch soon and then do some typing this afternoon.  Writing has been going pretty well lately and I just wrote a crucial scene two days ago where the protagonist first goes to the Immigration Office to learn that he has to invest a million euros and employ ten people in order to stay…boy, that sounds familiar!

so far

April 8, 2009

Got out of bed sometime around 8:15am, had some cornflakes and an apple, rode my bike 6 minutes to work, made some photocopies, a cup of coffee and then read a couple of articles with two lawyers.  I went to the post office, mailed a couple of things, then went to a cafe I hardly ever go to, had a large, fresh-squeezed orange/mango/banana/papaya juice, wrote 3 pages in my novel, then went by the tailor and picked up two cowboy shirts that I’d had shortened a bit, then went jogging while listening to a Zeppelin bootleg from 1973, then made lunch which consisted of ground beef, cherry tomatoes, mushrooms, red peppers,  some German veggie ravioli.


January 19, 2009

The world economy is falling apart. I have felt a little bit of it with one of my two company jobs letting me know they won’t need me this year until at least October and the other one not having written me back at all.  Feeling the crunch a bit, I told one of my bosses I would work at 8:15am-9:45am the next 3 Mondays, just to stay in good with that employer. I am “down” to only five employers right now and this week I’m only teaching 22 hours, when normally I am up to 30 hours around this time.

But you know what? I am doing just fine.  I have enough money to live for all of 2009 without earning one penny.  That feeling along makes each morning easier to get up and go to work.

Today I took two trains and walked 15 minutes for a total commute of one hour and 50 minutes each way to/from work.  I didn’t start until 11:45am so that meant the 10:15am train would be right.  I taught 5 full hours today, teaching them about qualities necessary for getting a job, and then they interviewed each other, did a quiz on proper email etiquette and then finally I put them into groups of 6 and they had managment meetings for a major fashion retail chain.

Something that sucked about the experience is that after this long ass commute to work, I am taking my last step into the building when my winter jacket catches on the corner of one of the tiles next to the door and before I know it, a small, penny-sized square rip has shown up on my right sleeve. The innards of my nice, new waterproof jacket could be seen when I fingered the rip.

I am taking my jacket and one of my shoes to be repaired at different places tomorrow morning after my morning class. Both places will probably say a week.  They always say a week and I think, come on dude, this thing will take you five minutes and we’ll be done with each other. I have cash, I sing as a lullaby.  Nope, it’s gonna take a week.

But the jacket is just one of my many new possessions, along with hiking boots, a pair of shoes, a new travel backpack and today, after work while eating my oven pizza (was too lazy to cook the pork steaks, tomorrow for lunch!), I bought a new work bag.  The one I have now is okay, it is still in okay shape but the water bottle mesh parts are slowly ripping and the shoulder pad is breaking up and not totally comfortable. If I had to use this bag another 2 years, that would be perfectly fine but I saw a student today with a Timberland bag and I was totally checking it out. In the break he even showed me on the website.  74euros.  Ouch, that was way more than I wanna spend on a new work bag I don’t even need.  So I checked out the timberland site, nothing good and then to, where I have bought bags in the past and they happened to have the final day of a sale on some Timberland work bags bringing the cost of one passable work bag from 69.99 down to only 25.99.  With the shipping a little more than 7 bucks to my parents in California and the current exchange rate at 1.31 (down from 1.44 a month ago), that Timberland bag (not the same one he has), this one: is only going to cost me 25 euros.  Now, is it worth it to save those 50 euros?  I am travelling to California in March and will meet my parents in San Francisco and then I will pick up the bag there and bring it back here.  I won’t have the bag for 2 months.  I have to bring it back here.  Does that still make it worth saving the 50euros and the answer is…



And because I don’t live in the States, I am totally out of the loop on the inauguration and the whole “change” happening with the changing of the guard in Washington.  Tomorrow is a big day.

And that is stuff.


January 3, 2009

So, I visited another world class city yesterday.  We got a late start and got home earlier than I had imagined but was quite impressed by the size and industry of the city. We mostly shopped, walked around and checked out a church but still, I thought it was a very nice city and am glad that I should have opportunities in the future to visit it again.

People are ice skating on the lake outside the apartment which is, I believe, the first time I have seen such a thing in nature.  A So Cal boy grows up and sees the world, I guess.  Except for the growing up part.

I will be in Freiburg tomorrow for the first time in more than 3 weeks. I am looking forward to being in my crappy apartment, listening to music and maybe even watching a West Wing episode or two with my lady.

I had a currywurst for lunch and then made the mistake of ordering matjes for dinner which was salted raw fish when I thought I was getting like breaded fish filet and this morning we had weisswurst, a Bavarian specialty where the skin must be taken off and they are eaten with pretzel and sweet mustard.  Also a hefeweizen beer but none of us get stomach that right now…