Germanwings Flight Crashes in France

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144 passengers and six crew members dead, German high school class feared part of the group.

MARSEILLE/BERLIN/PARIS- Thoughts and prayers go out to families and friends of the 144 passengers and six crew members of the Germanwings flight that crashed in southern French near the city of Nice this morning. The flight was enroute from Barcelona (Spain) to Düsseldorf (in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia). Among those feared dead were a group of 16 school children and two teachers from a high school in Haltern, located in northwestern North Rhine-Westphalia in western Germany. They were returning from an exchange program outing. Many politicians and people  alike have expressed their condolences on the loss of so many people. “It’s a tragedy, a new aerial tragedy, we will also know all the details and the causes of what has happened and we will evidently give them to the authorities concerned, including Spanish and German, and to the families of the victims. This is a mourning period that we need to overcome because it’s a tragedy that has occurred on our land,” said French President Francois Hollande. German chancellor Angela Merkel in an official statement added: “We find ourselves in great saddness and are thinking about the victims, their families, relatives and friends.” She plans to travel to southern France tomorrow to investigate the crash.  

The crash is the first in many years and will trigger an investigation as to what caused the crash. It is known that the crash will affect people from three countries in the EU and beyond, and there will be no stopping the investigation until the cause is found. For the family members, friends, and those who knew the victims, esp. the children on board, the Files would like to express condolences and support in this difficult time. May they be remembered but never forgotten, as we will think of them both now and for all time to come. :-(

Click on the highlighted links for more information in both languages. The Files has a Chain Post on its facebook page where you can follow all the updates posted through many sources. Click here and scroll down to the bookmarked post and read up on all the details.

The English Corner: Are You Sicher? Bist Du Sure?

Lockbreaker with the locks

How people are not sure how to use the English form of Sicher

To start off my first post in the series on German versus the English language, I would like to start off with a little word of advice with regards to German-English translations:

When looking up the English equivalent of a German word, never EVER use the first meaning in English without looking at the meaning and context first.

 

Many people translating documents from German into English have done this, and native speakers of English who are correcting the English documents have tried not to cry while laughing at the translations, especially the English equivalent of the German word used that absolutely did not fit the context. Of some of the blunders I’ve seen over the years, I can list the top five that comes to my mind:

1. Wassereinbruch-   The translated version was water burglary! :-D Yet the actual meaning is water break-in or leak if referring to an underwater pipe or cable.

2. Landstation-  On the same document about underwater pipes, this person translated it as country station!!  :-D  Now if you were a country music fan, you would know what a country radio station sounds like, right?  For a station on land, we keep the English translation as is, just separating the words into two.

3. Nicht auf dem letzten Drucker machen- The English equivalent performed as a pun by one of my students at the university was “Don’t do it to the last printer!”  However, we do have one word to shorten this phrase, which is “to procrastinate.”

4. Ich kann schreien-  In a presentation when asked to speak up, the presenter responded with “I could cry?” Response from a predominantly American audience: “Well, don’t do that.” I could just scream when I hear this. Oh, did I forget that scream was the right equivalent?

5. Sicherstellen- Many students have made this mistake, which is to be discussed here. They always say to make it secure. But are you sure it means to make something safe?

There are many word pairings where one German word has several different English meanings. For the fifth example, we will look at the word Sicher and the English equivalents that features three different words: sure, secure and safe. With these, we also have for each English equivalent, a different meaning.

 

Sure:

If we use this word, then it refers to the process of making sure that every promise, fact, statement and proof is doubt-free. In other words, you are asking someone whether he is telling the truth or not, thus bringing a famous German statement you will find in many supermarkets selling tobacco and public places that have age restrictions: “Sagen ist gut, Beweis ist besser-” saying something is good, proof and/or evidence is better.

Example sentence:

Judy: Are you sure you can make it to the airport on time?

Jules: Yes my dear, I’ll make it with no problem.

Here, Judy is not sure whether her husband Jules will catch his flight out of the airport because of possible problems with traffic and/or his car.

 

Secure:

If we use this word, it has two different meanings. The first one means the same as reserving or claiming something to be yours for a specific purpose.

Example sentence:

Brad secured three places for us for the concert in May.

Here one can replace secure with reserve as they both mean the same- booking a place for an event                                                                                                                                                                                 so that no one else can take it.

 

The second meaning of secure is the process of protecting tangible assets from potential theft or damages. Here you can use the noun form security or even the adjective form securely or secured.

Example sentences:

  1.  Please make sure the seatbelt is  securely fastened.    This means that the seatbelt in the car must be snug but tight enough to make sure the driver or passenger does not fly                                                                                                                                             out of the car in the event of an accident.

 

  1. This is a secure place. There are over 100 cops in this building. (This in reference to a police station).     This means that the police station has many police officers protecting                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       the building and its belongings (persons included) from any potential                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     harm, which unless the threat comes from a Terminator, almost never                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     happens.

 

Safe:

If we use this word, it means protecting the most important assets in our lives from harm- in particular people.

Example sentences:

(Scene from Dante’s Peak). Harry and Rachel kept the kids safe while exploring the hot springs.  This scene speaks for itsself.

Also to note, safe is used as another equivalent to the aforementioned German quote regarding proof as “Better Safe than Sorry,” meaning taking extra-precautionary measures avoid potential disasters. This was used later in the movie, when Rachel (the mayor) orders a preemptive evacuation of Dante’s Peak on the eve of a volcanic eruption, which Harry predicted would happen, despite opposition from city leaders, an investor and even his own people.

 

Tip:

Now for people who really have problems telling the difference, here’s a tip for you to try at home. When you want to use the English equivalent of sicher, write down the equivalents and make a mind map for each word, making a word association with each of the three. Then write a sentence in your native tongue, have a look at the mindmap associated with the three words and choose the word that best fits the sentence and context. Nine times out of ten you will find the right word using this mind map.

 

There are many cases where one word has many equivalents in another language, as we see here with Sicher versus Safe, Secure and Sure. However one needs to find the equivalent that best makes sense in terms of definition and context. Sometimes even the tiniest doubt in the usage of words can help avoid mistakes based on assumptions. So when coming across a translation of a word you are trying to use both written and orally, look at them carefully- even using the dictionary if necessary, and ask yourself when choosing the right word “Are you sicher, bist du sure?” This expression my wife uses often, and albeit it is funny at first, it has a deeper meaning inside. Better safe than sorry, eh? :-)

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Author’s Note:

The answer key to the questions about Schleswig-Holstein as well as the questions about the next (city-) state of Hamburg are available on the Flensburg Files’ website. This is in connection with the series on Germany at 25. To access them, please click on the symbol below and compare the answers to what you have. You can also comment on them doubt them to the author if needed. The answers to the Hamburg questions will come on 3 April, Good Friday. Have fun and good luck! :-)

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Germany into Darkness

Total Eclipse shadows the entire state, as 80% of the moon covers sun. 100% covers extreme Western Europe and the North Atlantic.

BERLIN/ERFURT/COLOGNE- As many as 70% of the German population or 50 million took advantage of the gorgeous weather and, armed with their cameras, smart phones and specialized sunglasses, photographed the sun as the moon covered up to 80% of it, putting the country into partial darkness. Despite worries that the eclipse could wreak havoc on the electirical power systems because Germany is mostly dependent on solar energy, it was reported that there were no problems and everything was running well as if nothing happened. The eclipse occurred at 10:42am Berlin time, almost an hour after the process started, and ended shortly after 12noon. The area where people could get the best view of the eclipse was in the states of Rhineland-Palatinate, North Rhine-Westphalia and Lower Saxony. However, people in other German states had an opportunity to see the moon cover 70-75% of the sun.

This included the city of Erfurt in central Thuringia, where the moon covered up to 75% of the sun, making it resemble on the one hand, the moon at first quarter mode, but on the other hand a full moon. In other words, there was the brightest first quarter on record, if one looks at it from an astronomer’s point of view.  The clear weather made it difficult to purchase specialized sunglasses, which you can wear to look up to the sun at the time of the eclipse, for many drug stores, pharmacists, glasses dealerships and optometrists ran out of stock up to two days prior to the event. This was the exact opposite of the last partial solar eclipse that occurred in 2005. There, rainy weather hindered any chances of viewing this rare event, thus dropping sales for these eye protectors dramatically.

While I was unable to purchase this pair of sunglasses, I did find one to use with an optometrist, whose shop was located at Erfurt’s city center, Anger- located between city hall and the train station. Although the pair was for lending and sharing purposes, I took the opportunity to wear them, while at the same time, cover the lens of the Pentax camera I had in my possession in an attempt to get a close-up look at the eclipse. Normally you are not supposed to get a direct shot at the eclipse for two reasons:

  1. The photo would turn out the same as it were without the eclipse- beautiful sunny skies just a little dimmer and
  2. Most importantly, looking directly at the sun at the time of the eclipse is very dangerous, for the rays could cause irreparable damage to the cornea, thus causing damage or even blindness.

As a tip one can get a selfie of the eclipse with the back towards the sun or simply leave it and have a look at the eclipse through TV and internet. However, even though I did get some shots of the places in Erfurt at the time of the eclipse (not to worry, I did this with my eyes looking down), I experimented by placing the specialized sunglasses over the lens of the camera, then zoomed in manually as far as it could go.

The result:

Photo taken in Erfurt at Anger just minutes before its peak

Photo taken in Erfurt at Anger just minutes before its peak

 

Unless you have had many years of experience in photography as I have had (I’ve been photographing since I was 11 years old), and you are daring enough to do this, this author does not recommend doing this- at least not without supervision. In order to get a shot like this, you need a special lens equivalent to what I used in order to get a shot like this. All other options are useless, for they would end up like the pic below- at the peak of the eclipse:

Erfurt Cathedral (Erfurter Dom) at the peak of the eclipse without the glasses. Not to worry, the author stared down while taking this shot.

Erfurt Cathedral (Erfurter Dom) at the peak of the eclipse without the glasses. Not to worry, the author stared down while taking this shot.

 

Whether a pic like this can be done like this with a special lens is doubtful for you may not get the picture you need. Admittedly though, it is worth experimenting, but if and only if the next opportunity arises, which for a solar eclipse like this one, it is rare. For many of us, this is perhaps the last time we will ever see one like this as the next one to come to Germany will be in 66 years. A partial eclipse in Germany will come again in 2022.  However the next total eclipse to reach the US will be in two years’ time. So for those who are hunting for the next solar eclipse (and I’m sure there are groups out there who are crazy about solar eclipses), mark this on your calendar at least, even though one may come beforehand.

But even not, for many like yours truly, this experience was once in a lifetime, which has now been crossed off our bucket list.

Author’s Note:

The Flensburg Files has an album on the solar eclipse in Germany through facebook, which you can click here to view. The Files’ is accepting photos taken by other photographers- amateur and profis alike- to be added to the album. If you have a photo or two to contribute, please send it to Jason Smith either through facebook or via e-mail at flensburg.bridgehunter.av@googlemail.com. Please cite your name and the place where the photo(s) took place. The purpose of the album is for other viewers to see. Thank you for your help in this matter.

 

Highlights of the solar eclipse are also available through the following sources:

MDR Info (Video of the Solar Eclipse) in D: http://www.mdr.de/nachrichten/video260046_zc-e9a9d57e_zs-6c4417e7.html

Deutsche Welle (Highlights of the Solar Eclipse) in EN: http://www.dw.de/cloudy-skies-obscure-solar-eclipse-in-much-of-europe/a-18330146

MDR Info (Gallery of the Solar Eclipse in Germany) in D: http://www.mdr.de/galerie/mdr/thumbnails.php?album=73

Tagesschau (Information and pictures of the Solar Eclipse) in D: http://www.tagesschau.de/sonnenfinsternis-165.html 

 

 

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Hamburg in 2024!

Hamburg Central Station will be a bit more crowded than normal, should it win the bid to host the 2024 Olympic Games. Photo taken in 2011

Hamburg Central Station will be a bit more crowded than normal, should it win the bid to host the 2024 Olympic Games. Photo taken in 2011

 

German Olympic Committee Recommends Hamburg over Berlin as Host for 2024 Summer Olympic Games- Schleswig-Holstein, Mecklenburg-Pommerania and Lower Saxony to Benefit from the Games

 

FRANKFURT (MAIN)- It came down to two of the five major German metropolises to host the 2024 Olympic Games- Berlin or Hamburg. Both of them in the northern half of the country. The German capital last hosted it in 1936, less than three years before World War II broke out. Being the third time it would have hosted the Games, it has the 1936 stadium, various sporting complexes and various lakes. Hamburg is an up and coming city. The second largest city has a dense and advanced infrastructure, is modernized and environmentally friendly and has direct access to the Baltic Sea through neighboring Schleswig-Holstein.

Therefore, it came as no surprise that the German Olympic Committee at a meeting in Frankfurt (Main) last night has recommended the candidate for the 2024 games goes to (drumroll, please…..)

Hamburg!

There are many reasons why the hanseatic city deserves the bid over the German capital. Hamburg has become a tourist appeal in the last 10+ years thanks to the efforts of modernizing the city to meet the demands of the population, while at the same time, bring the city and its history and culture to the forefront. Much of which you will find in the video clips below, and the Files will feature the city as the next candidate for Germany’s 25th anniversary quiz to be presented on the 24th of March. It was the host of the 2013 German Floral Show (Bundesgartenschau) with one of the largest suburbs, Wilhelmsburg being the pet for the International Building Exhibition, which ended in 2013. Once relying on coal and nuclear power, the city has embraced various forms of renewable energy, through wind, hydro and geothermal. The city prides itself on its sports teams in soccer, handball and basketball, to name a few. Plus with its sound infrastructure, one can reach the Baltic Sea in no less than 45 minutes and the North Sea in less than an hour.

The plan of the city to host the 2024 Games is easy: make it small and simple. A Olympic complex on the island of Kleinen Grasbrook that is to be a sports complex afterwards. Grasbrook was once an industrial complex. Basketball, soccer and handball would be played in the northern cities of Bremen, Cuxhaven, Travemünde, Rostock, Kiel and Flensburg, just to name a few. Boating and yachting either in Travemünde or Kiel. For Kiel, it would be blessing as it had last hosted this event in 1972. For the northern German states of Schleswig-Holstein, Mecklenburg-Pommerania and Lower Saxony, helping to shoulder the burden of the events (and the costs) Hamburg will have to face will make the northern region a very attractive place during the Summer Games. Speaking from the point of view of the expat looking in, the northern half of the country prides itself on it sporting events that do not require hills and mountains, but on courts and nets or in the water. So having Hamburg as the candidate for the Games is no surprise for it has what the athletes need and then some. When spending time in the region, one will want to come back again and again, because of the people, the culture, the landscape, the landscape, and lastly, the mentality where simplicity and friendliness trumps all the complications an even bigger city has, let alone all the extravaganzas that many hosts have overdone in the previous Olympics, like in Athens or Peking.

However, despite the recommendations, all is not set in stone for Hamburg. An extraordinary meeting takes place on March 21st, where the German Olympic Committee board members are expected to confirm Hamburg’s nomination. Hamburg will be competing with Boston for the rights to host the Games, with the decision to be made in Lima, Peru in 2017. Should the International Olympics Committee vote in favor of the German City-State, it will be Hamburg’s very first time, and one where many athletes, politicians and the majority of the population in the city and the affected northern states believe that the city deserves, given its pride in sports and its recent developments in their favor.

And if Hamburg wins and does a great job in hosting the games, it would not be surprising if it becomes the main go-to city for future Games, surpassing Berlin or even Munich (at least as far as the Summer Games are concerned), not just because of its attractiveness and its simplicity in planning its events, but because of its access to areas where people pride themselves in their own sporting events. And with that, the Files is throwing its support to Hamburg in hopes that the decision in 2017 falls in their favor. Best of luck and let’s bring the torch to Hollen Nord, shall we? :-D

Some reasons why one should visit Hamburg can be found here:

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Reminder: You still have one week to finish Germany’s first quiz on the northernmost German state of Schleswig-Holstein. To get access to the quiz, click here. The answers will come on March 24th, the same day as the quiz on Hamburg will be presented. 

Germany Quiz 1: What to know about Schleswig-Holstein

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Starting off the series on Germany at 25 and a look at each of the German states, we will now have our first look at the northernmost state of the country, Schleswig-Holstein. Bordered by two seas, as well as Lower Saxony, Mecklenburg-Pommerania, Hamburg and neighboring country Denmark, the German state consisted of two kingdoms that merged in 1544: The Duchy of Schleswig in the northern half and the Duchy of Holstein in the southern and eastern part. And although the border extended north into southern Jutland because of the Prussian victory over the Danes in 1864 (consisting of the Danish towns of Kolding, Sondernburg and Esjeberg), the present border, extending west from Flensburg towards Sylt has been in place since 1919 (not counting Adolf Hitler’s conquest during the Third Reich). The country is one of the most cosmopolitan in Germany as up to 40% of the population consist of the Danish minority, as well as people with a Frisian background and immigrants from other countries. Even some pockets of American expatriates can be found in some communities in the state. Each district and community has its own identity, culture and history worth exploring and speaking from the author’s experience, once you visit Schleswig-Holstein once, you want to visit it again, regardless of whether you want to visit the same part of the state again or different areas, hence picking up some statements and the famous greeting: “Moin Moin!” :-)

This article features a guessing quiz on what you want to know about Schleswig-Holstein- 25 questions in all, ten of which are in connection with the matrix activity involving the state’s famous communities. If you want to test your knowledge, take the quiz with your friends and family and share the information with others. You are free to comment on the answers either in the comment section or in the Files’ social pages. The answers will appear on 24 March, which at the same time, the next state will be featured. If you have any questions, contact the Files using the contact details in the webpage or by sending a facebook message.  Viel Spass und viel Glück!

Click on the logo below to take the quiz:

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Odds and Ends: 10 March, 2015

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The Flensburg Files’ upgrade to website status is finally finished. Before moving on to more articles and upgrading the sister column the Bridgehunter’s Chronicles, there are a few minor items to take care of with regards to the Files’ website. The information on the new features and changes to the Files from the very first entry will remain as is. Information about this can be found here.  A couple other items of importance is as follows:

1. There is an index of links that can be found at the foot end of the website, featuring on the left side, a guide to German and English news links and other interesting themes involving German-American-Multicultural affairs, in the middle the Files’ twitter and meta links and on the right, access to the Files’ photo pages on flickr and facebook. For the photo pages, click on the bird photo and you’ll land in the photo gallery of each page.

2. A couple additional pages were created and can be found in the bar section at the home page, each one containing a summary of what will be included. This includes the page on Germany at 25 years, where all articles pertaining to the Fall of the Wall, right up to German Reunification produced for the Files will be included there. This includes articles written in the blog version of the Files.

3. The Files’ facebook pages have been separated. The Files’ group page will focus on topics, discussions, and articles pertaining to the northern half of Germany, including the states of Schleswig-Holstein, Mecklenburg-Pommerania, Brandenburg, Lower Saxony and Saxony-Anhalt, as well as the cities of Berlin, Hamburg and Bremen, just to name a few. Danish topics are also welcome. If interested in meeting new people and sharing some interesting info and photos about a region worth visiting, click here and join.  The Files’ main facebook page will continue to feature all articles posted by the Files but also articles from other sources that deal with German-American-Multicultural themes as well as tips for expatriates looking to live in Germany or America. Click here and like the Files on facebook to receive a daily dose of information from the Files.

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Germany at 25:

In connection with Germany’s 25th birthday, the Flensburg Files will have a look at the Bundesrepublik and how it has changed over the course of these years. Apart from some interviews and stories from people living in Germany, two of the main features that will be presented by the Files’ in association with this special event include a quiz to test your knowledge on all 16 German states and city-states. Already posted is the first quiz about the northernmost state in the county, Schleswig-Holstein, which you can find here and under the page Germany at 25. The answers will be presented in two weeks on the 24th with a quiz on another state in the works.  The other will feature 25 things that make Germany a unique place worth looking at it. This includes topics involving the way of life, food and other items that stick out is unique in comparison to other countries. This includes beer, bratwurst, Polterabend, Zuckertüte, etc. Already, some suggestions have been collected by many people, and the author is open to other themes worth writing about. If there is a topic that is not mentioned often by the media but is worth writing about, please let me know.

And with the final comments, we’re now off to put the pen and plow to work. There’s a lot to experience and write about. Stay tuned for more to come. :-)

 

Typical German avenue. Photo taken in September 2014

Typical German avenue. Photo taken in September 2014

2015 Eurovision Germany: Andreas gives Ann Sophie the Ticket to Vienna- An Author’s Perspective

HANOVER- You participate in a music competition for a chance to represent your district in a state or national competition. You do a solo and perform it really well in front of the audience. It was well enough that you end up in the finals. You woo the audience with your song again, who pick you as the winner. You are selected by the host to be the winner and are given the chance to compete in the next competition. However, instead of taking this honor, you give it away to the second place winner, using the reasons stated in the first video.

How would you feel by doing this? And would your fans forgive you for making this decision?

This is exactly what happened in the Eurovision Song Contest last night in Hanover, Germany. In the German competition, where the winner will represent the country in the international contest scheduled to take place in Vianna, Austria on 5 May, Andreas Kümmert was selected to represent Germany in the competition, only to give a heart.wrenching announcement that he was declining the award and his participation in Vienna, thus handing the ticket to Ann Sophie. Despite the Bavarian’s reason of him being a simple singer, both his song as well as the one of Hamburger were really great and received standing ovations last night. Have a look at the two videos with the first one by Ann Sophie…..

 

and that by Andreas Kümmert:

To read more, please follow the link to the Flensburg Files website by clicking on the logo:

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The Flensburg Files now Online

Heading home in the dark; photo taken in April 2011

Heading home in the dark; photo taken in April 2011

 

To start off this entry, I would like to provide a useful quote for you to ponder: The only way to succeed is going up. All other directions are pointless.  For almost five years, the Flensburg Files has provided readers with some interesting topics from the writer’s point of view, ranging from German-American issues, to cultural differences, to celebrities being honored (or dishonored), to providing some interesting places for people to visit. All of the entries have been on the blog level, operated by areavoices, a subsidiary of Forum Communications based in Fargo, North Dakota

That is until today, that is.

For the first time ever, the Files now has its own website, powered by WordPress. The address is similar to the areavoices web address but only shorter. You can access it at: https://flensburgerfiles.wordpress.com

However, even though some finishing touches are being made at the time of this entry, some new features and changes that are found in the new website include the following:

1. There will be more opportunities to interact with other readers, responding to articles and questions posted by the author. This includes having a questionnaire available in an article posted where necessary as well as more platform space for people to post their opinions about the topic.

2. No more bureaucracy regarding contacting the author. You can use the contact form provided in the website to contact the author directly, without dealing with typing errors, rejections, etc.

3. More opportunities to access news stories in both languages: Apart from the articles on themes posted by the author, the Files is available on facebook and twitter, where you can like and follow respectively. Yet the difference is the Twitter page will have mainly articles from German (-speaking) newspapers on a regional and national level. The facebook pages features a wide array of articles dealing with German-American, cultural issues and other interesting facts, much of which are useful for expatriates living in Germany and Europe. All of them are in the English language.

4. Wider array of topics to be covered here: Apart from the usual contents featured in the Files- touring places of interest, German-American Multicultural topics, and other news projects (including the current one focusing on Germany’s 25 years), the Files will include some topics pertaining to the German-English language, looking at the not-so-easy-to-explain facts and many creative ways of garnering interest in the language.  A couple more categories are in the works and will be presented later in the year.

5. More photos: Thanks to more storage space, more photos will be posted in the Files, pending on the topic presented. This despite finding additional ones on the Files’ facebook and flickr pages, which the readers will be directed to in case it is necessary.

6. Better access to other online blogs and websites. The Files will have a page of links available for people get more direct access to the websites they are going. Like in the blog, the links have to do with German news in English, foreign language and culture.

7. More ways to follow. Apart from facebook and twitter, you can also follow the Files via wordpress, RSS feedburner, and other social newtwork pages, as well as subscribe via e-mail, and you can get better access on your Smartphone. This way you can get access to the Files at any time.

These are only a few of the many new features the Files’ new website has, some of the which was not seen in the blog. Although the areavoices blog page will be kept as readers have been accessing it through the Forum newspapers, plus the articles written solely for that blog will remain as is, they will be directed to the website as the blog will feature an abbreviated version of the article that will be available in this website. This will apply for long articles but not those that have questions for the audience.

Keeping this in mind, there is a list of themes to cover in the coming days and weeks; so without further ado, it is time to start writing and for the readers to start following. Happy reading and looking forward to your comments.

 

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Will Speed for Free Food!

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Photo courtesy of the Clearwater (Kansas) Police Department

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If you enjoy speeding and disregarding signs, let alone give the police and the Kraftfahrtbundesamt (Driver’s Office) in Flensburg (Germany) a headache, then this article is for you. Regardless of whether you are in Germany or the US, people love to speed and will stop at nothing to ensure that they are at least 20 km/h over the limit. In Germany, we have the blitzer machines, where drivers and their car license plates are photographed, and after a brief process of determining how many Flensburg Points  one receives and how much money one has to pay, the driver gets the check in the mail. Many people have found creative ways of manipulating these blitzer machines, like this one below:

 

Well, not quite. :-) But people destesting these machines have done a fabulous job manipulating them, which includes putting recycling cans over them:

 

In the US, we do not have such devices- although having them would solve all our infrastructural woes and fix our deficit in an instant- but we do have radar devices, which tracks the speed of drivers especially when going through communities, and this story shows that even some drivers love to pull a good joke. In Clearwater, Kansas, located 10 miles southwest of Wichita, police officials, in particular Chief Garcia, received a laugh of the century, as one of the drivers placed a makeshift sign next to the radar device, challenging the drivers to speed as fast as possible in order to win a prize, as shown in the picture at the beginning! :-) The police is looking for someone who gave the chief the biggest laugh in his career so that the driver can be “rewarded” with a free meal.

Can you imagine someone seeing this in Germany? Or Europe?

It is known that Germans have a dry sense of humor with most of them taking this as way too seriously- pending on which part of Germany you’re living in. However, aside the humor behind this picture that even some of the people at the Flensburg office would take when seeing this, the true purpose behind this radar device is the same as the German blitzer: to save lives and keep the roads safe for others to use.  Therefore, even though some of us may take this as a dose of laughter to start off the day on the road, even in Germany, the word to the wise is “Don’t, unless you want to set a new record for the highest number of Flensburg points you receive when getting caught!”

In other words, enjoy the laugh but drive carefully. ;-)

For those wanting to know about Germany’s Flensburg Point system, the author wrote about this theme a few years ago as it was undergoing some reforms. More on that here.

 

Here’s a question for those who love driving:

What were some other acts drivers have done in order to get away with breaking the rules of the road, regardless of whether it was in the US, Germany or Europe? We love to hear them. Put your stories here in the comment section, or in the Flensburg Files’ facebook page, which you can access here

 

Special thanks to the Clearwater Police Department of Clearwater, Kansas for allowing use of this photo. It did provide a good laugh over here and when others read this, they will have a great start while on the road travelling to work. ;-)

Blue Elephant Turns 40!

Statue of the Maus (right) and the Elephant at Anger, Erfurt's city center. Photo taken in 2011

Statue of the Maus (right) and the Elephant (left) at Anger, Erfurt’s city center. Photo taken in 2011

FF new logoBlue happens to be my favorite color. It reminds me of a lake in Iowa, where I went swimming as a kid. It reminds me of the blue skies and how it was decorated with cotton candy cloud, while I was dreaming of the future. It reminds me of a blue elephant that is making kids laugh.

A blue elephant?

Yes, in German TV, we do have a blue elephant, and yes, he has his own TV show. And believe it or not, the Blue Elephant is going to be 40!

On this day on 23 January, 1975, the Blue Elephant made his first appearance as a sidekick to the orange mouse in the German cartoon series, Die Sendung mit der Maus. (EN: The Show with the Mouse). After three years, the creators of the show- Gert Munterfering,  Monika Paetow and Armin Maiwald, who turned 75 a month ago- decided that one was a very lonely number, and the Mouse needed some company to keep him and the audience entertained. Therefore, the Blue Elephant came into the limelight and did just that. He gave the mouse some laughs, some tricks with his trunk, but most importantly, a friendship which has lasted up until today.  Add the duck and the pink bunny (the latter as part of his own debut of Die Sendung mit dem Elephant in 2007), and it is safe to say that the crowd has been the core that has made the show, produced by German TV station WDR and can be watched by children and adults alike every Sunday, one of the top five shows that should be watched at least once when visiting and/or living in Germany (soccer, Tatort/mystery series, Löwenzahn and travel documentaries are the other four).

It is very difficult to pick the creme de la creme of the short clips featuring the blue elephant and his friends (including the mouse), but the Files have compiled a gallery which you can click to watch and you can decide for yourself which one is the best. Highlights of the elephant’s 40th birthday can be found via link here.

 

 

 

 

For not only providing the Mouse with back-up and entertainment and for making us laugh and getting us going on a rather quiet and lazy Sunday morning, the Files would like to thank the Blue Elephant for 40 years of the best. Happy Birthday and may you provide us with 40 more years of the best. You and the mouse are the reason why we devote 30 minutes of our time every Sunday in the blue sky watching you on TV.

And for yours truly, being a non-German American expat, another reason to appreciate the color of blue. :-)

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