Monthly Archives: August 2008

Tibetan activist squirrel forces Switzerland to miss Olympic closing ceremony

Well that’s nutty!

It seems that a power outage caused an 80 minute TV blackout across Switzerland just timed so that the entire nation missed the closing ceremony of the Beijing Olympics.

The reason given for the outage was that a squirrel broke into a Zürich power plant and disabled the entire facility. Yes, a squirrel. An Eichhörnchen (am I the only person who can’t pronounce that word while sober?)

Now… I wouldn’t want to be accused of creating conspiracy theories out of thin air… but I must say, this seems pretty fishy to me. For a start, were you or I to enter a power plant, we wouldn’t have the first clue about how to go about shutting the thing down, right? We’d probably manage to turn off the photocopier, or disable a light switch – but a whole power plant? No – this was clearly a highly trained squirrel.

Second, we are not talking about some accident here. This was clearly a Kamikaze squirrel. We are told the rodent actually subjected itself to an 11,000 volt electric shock. That’s commitment to the cause if ever I saw it. No, this was no bungler – this was a fanatical activist squirrel.

Third, we know there have been protests about China’s human rights record in Tibet (and need I even mention the fate of small furry rodents that fall into the hands of Chinese Chefs). This particular squirrel – who I shall codename Bya ma byi (wow.. isn’t there some amazingly useless stuff on the internet!) was obviously part of a highly organised and dedicated gang of suicide rodents.

Their masterplan was carried out to perfection – the timing was perfect. Bya ma byi crept by stealth into the power station and using all the skills he’d learnt at squirrel terrorist training camp, hurled himself into the innermost workings of the switching station at the crucial moment.

The whole of Switzerland was blacked out – nobody could receive coverage of the Olympic closing ceremony.

Of course, it was Bye Bye to Bya ma byi. But then, some technicians in Zürich are probably dining well tonight.

A totally unrelated squirrel

A totally unrelated squirrel


Filed under food, Life in Germany

What prejudices do you have about Germany?

This chap – an Irish comedian called Dylan Moran – has quite a few!


Filed under comedy, Life in Germany, World War 2

Another reason why footballers shouldn’t fake injury…

because the risks associated with being stretchered off the pitch are just not worth it….

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Filed under comedy, German video, Life in Germany

And how was your day?

It’s been quite a week for some people in the German speaking world.

The person I feel particularly sorry for is Juri Steiner, the director of the Paul Klee centre in Berne. While most of us battle with minor issues at work, like a broken photocopier or an unpaid invoice, Mr. Steiner has had problems of a dimension that is hard to comprehend.

His museum was hosting en exhibition including an eloquently titled exhibit: Complex Shit by the artist Paul McCarthy.

The exhibit in question was a giant inflatable dog turd the size of a house.  Yes you read that right.

Unfortunately for Mr. Steiner, the aforementioned oversized dog turd fell victim to a sudden gust of wind and blew off into the sunset, taking with it a power line, eventually landing in the grounds of a children’s home, breaking a window in the process.

The full story can be read here, and a picture of the turd in question is here.

My week, although filled with the usual minor setbacks and niggling annoyances, pales in comparison to Mr. Steiner’s.

I just hope he gets his turd back.

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Filed under comedy

In the interests of peace and harmony in the Fatherland…

here is another film which tries to shed some light on how the other half lives in Germany. By the other half, I mean that misunderstood and marginalised set of fellow citizens… the Neo-Nazis.

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Filed under comedy, German video, Life in Germany

One thing I will say about German advertising…

… it does get your attention.

I think I need a lie down now…


Filed under comedy, German video

The only thing worse than being talked about…

…is not being talked about.

I nearly fell off my chair this morning when I checked into the Book Depository website. Falling off my chair is generally a bad idea, first because my desk is strategically positioned next to an open window with a thorny rosebush just the other side of it, and second because it involves cats scattering in all directions, usually taking coffee mugs, papers, laptops and other items with them.

Fortunately so far, I have managed to hang onto my seat… just.

Anyway, I digress. The Book Depository is one of the big online booksellers in the UK – and the section of its website called “Editor’s corner” is actually a blog by a very cunning man called Mark Thwaite. I say cunning, because he manages to get everyone else to write his blog in the form of so-called interviews, while he, presumably sits around drinking coffee and sells thousands of books online with one occasional flick of the mouse.

This time, his chosen blogger is Marcia Jarnell aka Lizzy Siddall – author of the very wonderful book-blog: Lizzy’s Literary Life.

Now… here’s the bit that nearly caused my death by a thousand rose-thorns…

It turns out that Lizzy is a secret admirer of this very blog! She says:

Germany is also the subject of my favourite non-bookish blog Planet Germany. It brings back many good memories.

At this point, I’ll take a pause to wave at my screen and say hello to Lizzy!

But wait… it gets better. When asked what books she would recommend to other readers (Mr. Thwaite has not yet managed to outsource the questioning… but I’m sure it’s only a matter of time…), Lizzy’s reply includes:

On a less controversial note, I shall recommend Cathy Dobson’s Planet Germany, the book of the blog, to all British expatriates and to all British ex-expatriates for that matter. No, in fact to everyone. It’s hilarious.

This is why this morning, you find me teetering on the very edge of my windowsill in a state of excitement, with a cat approaching ….about to push me over the edge.


Filed under books

Everything you wanted to know about German toilets but were too scared to ask

Probably the most common preoccupation of ex-pats the world over is toilets. And where but Germany has such weird ones?

I recently discovered that there’s a fellow ex-pat who has produced a series of clips on YouTube solely devoted to toilets in the countries he has visited. Obviously Germany has been a major destination on his travels – and rather than visiting the Brandenburg gate or the Hofbrauhaus, he has wisely spent most of his time in the smallest room, marvelling at the cultural differences.

I’ll let him introduced the “inspection shelf model” in his own words…

Following the initial episode, our intrepid hero did however find something to his liking about German bathrooms… in fact I think he may actually extend his stay indefinitely….


Filed under comedy, Life in Germany

German slapstick humour

A set of intelligent and public spirited Germans decide to entertain some unsuspecting joggers in the woods…. oddly enough, their audience seems to be lacking in their appreciation of slapstick humour. I wonder why….


Filed under comedy, German video, Life in Germany

Planet Germany is “Book of the Month”

Well that was a lovely surprise! I found out today that Planet Germany has been chosen as “Book of the Month” on Army Wives United.

Planet Germany is Book of the Month

Planet Germany is Book of the Month

Given the number of Army Wives who have had the experience of living in Germany, there must be quite a number who can empathise with the stories in the book. I can hear the chuckling all the way from JHQ….


Filed under books, Life in Germany