starting the new year off right…

…with a post covering several topics all at once.

  • First off: Narg and [Carrie]( “really cool chick whom we really don’t know very well but instantly agreed is perfect for Ye Olde Nargge”) are getting married! See her blog for details. That is excellent.
  • Secondly: we know it’s barely January, but maybe we’ll be back in town for a visit to the Detroit area this Fall — possibly in connection with the event mentioned above; possibly in connection with Thanksgiving; possibly in connection with Yours Truly hitting the three-decade mark. We’ll see.
  • Thirdly (O.K., that’s getting old): I think I’m liking [Flickr]( “a photo-sharing site that seems pretty cool, so far”). [my new favorite host]( “pay for only what you use!”) is hosting my blog (thanks for reading, by the way) and I like their pricing option (they only offer one) and the flexibility they offer. I can squeeze even more mileage out of them if I let Flickr do my image hosting, and that’s working well for me. I am interested in your experiences about other image-hosting sites though. I generally don’t like the ones that make you sign up in order to peruse someone’s vacation album…I like that Flickr doesn’t make browsers join just to look. I also like that static URLs are available for permanent linking and that multiple sizes of the image I uploaded are available constantly. I don’t quite like them enough (yet) to *pay* for their service, but almost. Until then, the free hosting is working just fine, thanks.
  • Thanks to many of you for asking, but Sarah’s German test results haven’t come back yet. They predicted a 6-8 week delay between taking the final segment of the test and receiving the results by mail. It would be great if she got positive results back and those allowed her to get a sweet gig here locally somewhere, but on the other hand, we have a hard time using all of my vacation time up as it is. [Sound the segue alarm!]
  • Check this out: I get 30 days off per year. Yes, that’s *six* five-day work weeks off per year, **in addition** to the *twelve* [Bavarian state holidays]( “official holiday listing for Bavaria”) on which the building I work in is locked, preventing me from working. They are:
    1. January 1 — New Year’s Day
    2. January 6 — Epiphany
    3. Good Friday
    4. Easter Monday
    5. May 1 — Labor Day
    6. Ascension
    7. Whit Monday
    8. Corpus Christi
    9. October 3 — Reunification Day
    10. November 1 — All Saints’ Day
    11. December 25 — First Day of Christmas
    12. December 26 — Second Day of Christmas

    That is a whopping **42** days off per year. I get paid *more* for the time I’m not at work. And If I do really well in my job and get recognized for it I may end up with *less* time off, not more. And if my paygrade shift lands exactly the wrong way, I might end up making less money, not more with the promotion. Kinda motivates me to stay right here, right where I am in snuggly ol’ Regensburg. No sirree, let’s not promote ol’ Cliff.

    The seriously wacky part of this whole equation is that with every plant closing up shop in Western Europe, every business shifting eastward, every facet of day-to-day business off-shored, the Germans I know seem surprised and indignant that this is happening to them. Some of them are still blaming foreigners — inside Germany and outside — for making Germany work “so hard” at carrying the rest of the EU on its back (“Hello, EU membership is voluntary, unlike the plans some of your Opas had…and besides, what did you think was going to happen? Do you really consider Germany and its [fellow EU member nations]( like oh, I don’t know, *Cypress* economic equals?”). I suppose their vacations on the beaches of Spain, Greece, the Dominican Republic and elsewhere are spent thinking up ways of keeping their jobs in the country they prefer to live in. But it doesn’t seem like that strategy is working well, either.

  • So, we’re thinking about doing something new and different (for us, anyway) with some of that time this year. Sarah found [this deal]( “Is it too good to be true?”) online which is looking pretty enticing. I am interested in feedback from everyone who has been on a cruise for us first-timers. Big bonus points for those who have been on a cruise outside the Caribbean and have experiences to share.