Friday, September 29, 2006

Work Update, 29.09.06

Instead of describing myself what's going on, I'll let you, my dear Readers, read the official Press Release which was released yesterday.

But first, a couple personal thoughts/points:

1. No one (including me, my bosses, the CEO, etc.) knows exactly what this will look like practically, or how much time we have.

2. There's a lot I don't understand, but I do know that foul and unfair play has been (and is) taking place.

3. I'm not sure exactly what steps I'm going to take next.

4. I want to stay here in Neukirchen-Vluyn. Very badly.

*takes a deep breath*

First, the English Version:

"BenQ is to discontinue payments to BenQ Mobile* in Germany.
BenQ Mobile GmbH & Co OHG* faces insolvency.
The worldwide mobile business is to be continued by BenQ from Asia.

TAIPEI, TAIWAN, MUNICH, GERMANY, 28th September 2006 – BenQ announced today in Taipei that there will be no further payments to BenQ Mobile GmbH & Co OHG.. Both revenue and margin development will fall far short of expectations in the important Christmas quarter. Due to the discontinuation of further financial support from the parent company, BenQ, and the difficult business situation resulting in a lack of liquidity, BenQ Mobile in Germany will file for insolvency at the local court in Munich within the next few days. The BenQ Mobile Headquarter in Munich, as well as the sites Kamp-Lintfort and Bocholt in North-Rhine-Westphalia, with a total of approx 3000 employees, are af-fected. (1.400 in Munich and 1.600 in NRW). BenQ Mobile Management, headquartered in Munich, Germany has taken immediate action in order to secure ongoing business op-eration. Possible consequences for the other BenQ Mobile sites and regional companies still need to be evaluated. BenQ plans to continue its global mobile business under the brand of BenQ-Siemens, and continue to utilise its associated research and development facilities, as well as production facilities, in Asia."


And now, the German Version:

"BenQ stellt Zahlungen an seine Mobiltelefonsparte in Deutschland ein
BenQ Mobile GmbH & Co OHG* steht vor Insolvenz
Weltweites Geschäft mit Handys der Marke BenQ-Siemens wird durch BenQ aus Asien heraus fortgesetzt

TAIPEI, TAIWAN, MÜNCHEN, DEUTSCHLAND, 28. September 2006 – BenQ gab heute in Taipei bekannt, dass es keine weitere Zahlungen mehr an seine Mobiltelefonsparte BenQ Mobile GmbH & Co OHG leisten wird. Umsatz- und Margenentwicklung im wichtigen Weihnachtsgeschäft wird deutlich hinter den Erwartungen liegen. Wegen der Einstellung weiterer Finanzhilfen durch den Mutterkonzern BenQ und dem daraus entstehenden Liquiditätsmangel wird BenQ Mobile in Deutschland aufgrund der schwierigen Geschäftssituation in den nächsten Tagen Insolvenz beim Amtsgericht München beantragen. Davon sind die Zentrale in München und die Standorte in Kamp-Lintfort und Bocholt in Nordrhein-Westfalen mit insgesamt etwa 3.000 Mitarbeitern (1.400 in München und 1.600 in NRW) betroffen. Das Management von BenQ Mobile wird umgehend Maßnahmen treffen, um das laufende Geschäft aufrecht zu erhalten. Mögliche Folgen für die anderen Standorte und regionalen Gesellschaften von BenQ Mobile müssen noch geklärt werden. BenQ plant sein globales Geschäft mit Handys der Marke BenQ-Siemens fortzusetzen und wird dazu seine bestehenden Forschungs- und Entwicklungs-, als auch Fertigungskapazitäten in Asien weiter nutzen."


The two main prayer requests/ needs/ wants right now are: (1) the ability to trust God and not freak out and (2) wisdom to know what to do next.

*my company/employer. The "mother company" is BenQ; the German mobile phone division is BenQ Mobile.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

My Charmingly Convivial New Neighbor

New Neighbor: *scowls* "I thought you were from Brazil."
Mary: "No, I'm from
North America - from Texas."
NN: *frowns* "Isn't that where Bush's brother is governor?"
Mary: "No, Bush's brother Jeb is the governor of Florida. George W himself was the former governer of Texas."
NN: *mutters something under his breath that Mary can't understand*
Mary: "Excuse me?"
NN: *grimaces* "Most of the world is ticked off at America."
Mary: "I'd rather not discuss politics."
NN: *scowls* "Well, I don't feel sorry for the Americans."
Mary: "Like I said, I don't discuss politics because it only frustrates people."
NN: *grunts*

Seriously, who says something like that to someone they've just met? Can we say ISSUES?

We're going to get along just dandily.

The Mission: to change Germany's view of Americans, one grumpy old curmudgeon at a time. I think I'll bake him some cookies. And until he really ticks me off, I'll be a good neighbor and leave the aresenic out.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Work is FUNNY.

So... my new boss told me that if I didn't correct and straighten out a certain issue, he's going to need heart medication. If I were in his place, I'd be on the phone with the Krankenkasse* first thing tomorrow morning, snark, snark, snark.

Then, I yelled "Abwesend!" (absent) the other day when he called me from the other side of our huge, open office because I thought he was a different co-worker.

Boss: "Mary, please come here for a minute."
Mary: "ABWESEND!!!"
*the office becomes silent and everyone holds their breath, eager to witness my demise*
Boss: "Excuse me?"
Mary: "Oh, Scheisse..."

Assuming retirement takes place at 65, I have about 42 more years of working-world-bliss. YEAH, BABY! BRING IT ON!

*health insurance organization

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Holy *KRACH*

Guess what happened this morning... I played a PIPE ORGAN, thanks to Bizarro Mom!!! It's hilarious - she's so curious and friendly and crazy and nosy, with her nose in everyone's business, that she has serious connections. Last week after work I somehow* ended up at their place, which is where the plot begins to unfold.

Bizarro: "So, what do you think about learning to play the organ?"
Mary: "What? Are you serious?"
Bizarro: "I know the Hörstgen church organist... you could even take lessons."
Mary: "Em..."
Bizarro: "I'll call her up."
*ring ring*

And the rest is history.

Sure enough, I went to the little village church in Hörstgen this morning and was given a brief history of the organ and was then allowed to play it. It was weird... there was only one level of keys (as opposed to the usual two or three levels), and the pedals corresponded to the lower half of the keys. It was extremely difficult for me to play because it only had approximately 25% - 33% as many keys as a piano. All the songs I play (especially the classical pieces) require practically the entire set of piano keys, so when I sat down at the organ, it felt rather crammed and constricted and confusing. But I managed to play a couple little bits of this and that.

I wanted to mess around more, but there were some older people there who were trying to drink their after-church-coffee, so I felt bad (especially after one cranky old fart shushed me). The organist and the pastor said that if I ever want to play, I should let them know and they'll give me the key to the church. CRAZINESS!

I think I might have found a new hobby/challenge/obsession.

*well, it was actually a conscious and deliberate decision.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

A Visit from my Boys!

After driving to the Center of the Universe* for a freakin' awesome choir concert with Biff in Tenor, I returned home for the shock of my life. Waiting for me outside my appartment were John, Paul, George and Ringo. I kid you not. And the only alcohol I've had today was in the Tiramisu.

I invited them in, of course, and we talked into the wee hours of the morning about glass onions, newspaper taxis, the USSR, yellow submarines, paperbacks, and our mutual friend Lucy.

John kept talking philosophy and religion, but at least it was in English (if you consider British English to be English); Paul was a sweetie and played me some of my favourite songs, as he'd remembered to bring his guitar along; Ringo kept drumming his fingers on the coffee table and annoying me; and George didn't do or say much of anything.

Fun times.

Thanks, Karen!


Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Project Pipe Organ

Saturday was, em, interesting.* Not only did I attend my first German wedding, but I played the piano at my first wedding. It was only one song, and the choir sang along, so it wasn't that horribly nerve-wracking or ulcer-inducing.

Ok. I officially have a new project (or, possibly two new projects, if somehow acquiring a helicopter and turning the roof of my appartment into a landing dock can be considered a project): Project Pipe Organ. I've got a fever, and the only prescription is a 16th Century Pipe Organ!

During the wedding ceremony, we sang an old German church song (Großer Gott, wir loben Dich), accompanied by the organ, and it was completely mesmerizing. I'm not sure exactly what happened during that song, or how, or why... but let's just say that I think I now know what it feels like to be in a trance-like state. It was so breath-takingly powerful and holy and overwhelming and angelic and gorgeous and loud. I felt like I'd floated backwards a couple of centuries and was singing with Saint Cecilia herself. Forget quitting work to start a rock band or learn the Drehleier... the new goal is to become the lead Organist in a heavenly choir of Seraphims and Cherubims.

I've already started browsing Ebay for Pipe Organs... hopefully it'll (a.) fit in my appartment and (b.) not annoy my neighbors.

*in both the German and English sense of the word, Eleanor. :)

Monday, September 18, 2006


*sets something important on fire*

*hurls a rock through a window*

*jumps off the balcony*

*punches a hole in the wall*

*keys the driving school car*

*crashes the computer with an infinite Excel loop*

*screams at the top of her lungs*

Man, that felt good. Even if it was only virtual.

Ok, my dear Readers, Essay Question Time: Describe, in the form of comparison and contrast, aggression, passive aggression and virtual aggression. How closely related are passive aggression and virtual aggression?

Please turn in your typed (Times New Roman, double-spaced, font-size 10.5, margins 1 inch on all sides) responses, complete with full name, date and favourite music group/singer to Fr. Barber no later than September 18, 2106.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Inevitable Cultural Integration and the Informal You

You know you're being culturally integrated when you find yourself doing things or thinking in ways that you once snickered at.

Germans frequently refer to one another as "Mr/Mrs/Ms So-and-so," especially when first meeting someone or when there's not much contact with someone. Moving from the Formal You to the Informal You can even be seen as a major step in a relationship.

The fact that this little rule has found a home in my thinking over the past year was proven today when I received an e-mail from an American I don't know (a co-worker of a friend of Kenny's). Instead of the typical Sehr geehrte Frau Barber*, I had a simple Dear Mary. Excuse me? We don't know eachother... distance, I need distance! I felt like my psychological personal space bubble had been burst.

But at least she knows my first name, unlike Stalker Boy.

Tsk, tsk.

*Highly Honoured Ms. Barber

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

On Work and Worrying

Work. It's more volatile and unpredictable than a bunch of tenth graders in a high school chemistry lab. Oooh, speaking of chemicals, aren't ulcers a result of excessive gastric acids? I think a feel a warm, fuzzy one coming.

Mary: I know that I do tend to worry a lot
Mary: bleh
Kenny: you've always been like that, so you take situations like this harder
Kenny: or you just find more to worry about!
Mary: I'm worried that I worry to much
Kenny: it might really go back to the old control issue
Kenny: exactly
Kenny: I'm really worried that you will worry about your worry too much
Mary: and now I'm worried that you're worrying about my worrying about my worry
Kenny: this whole thing is very troublesome

I miss my Vatti.

Life is a malignant-gastro-intestinal-peptic-ulcer.

Monday, September 11, 2006

The Periodic Table of Stuff*

Learning new German words is a daily (hourly?) event, and yesterday was no exception. As a matter of fact, I was introduced to a whole new world of vocabulary and ideas yesterday. A local College put on Science-Fair-Type-Event where different departments (biology, physics, mathematics, chemistry, etc.) displayed their various projects. Syd, The Little Rascal, Mariposa**, her brother and I went, and it was great fun. Though I had a throbbing headache afterwards from (a) too little drinking and (b) too much thinking.

For some reason, I got a kick out of the German names for the Elements. The names often end with the suffix "-stoff", which I found rather odd until discussing the issue with Leo. Until yesterday, I'd understood "Stoff" to mean "fabric/material/stuff"... but it also has other meanings: "matter/substance."

[Side Note: frequently, the German language will have one word for multiple ideas whereas English will split the ideas into multiple words.]

Hydrogen, for example, is Wasserstoff. "Water-stuff." Makes sense.

Nitrogen is Stickstoff, which supposedly comes from the word "ersticken" - "to suffocate/quench/smother." Why? Because in pure nitrogen, living things suffocate and fires are quenched. "Smother-stuff." Heh.

Oxygen is Sauerstoff, which was particularly perplexing. "Acidic-stuff." *scratches her head* There's an explanation, but I'll let it be (let it be, there will be an answer... let it be).

Carbon is Kohlenstoff. "Coal-stuff." Ok.

Something else I found odd is the fact that Germans have their own, non-Latin/Greek names for certain elements. Even Americans use Latin/Greek names (think: non-English) for most of the elements. I'd think that names would be universal in the scientific realm.

And the plot thickens... though they don't use Latin/Greek names, they use the same Periodic Table and abbreviations that we use. Yay for Scientific-Semi-Universality! The abbreviation for Wasserstoff would be H, for example. And I thought having to memorize Fe and Pb and other funky elemental exceptions was complicated.

Then again, Germans are notorious for complicating even the simplest of matters. Chemical matters being no exception. :)

But what-ev. It's all relative and meaningless, anyway.

Coming up next: Mary's dramatic 10th grade chemistry experience gone bad and an otherwise dull day in school turned into an exhilirating trip to the local hospital. Yup, it's true, folks.


**a German friend who recently returned to Germany after spending a year in Mexico. She's awesome.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Journal Exctracts from the First Several Days

Around this time last year, I was in a British Airways plane, listening to my favourite boys and flying to Germany. It's hard to believe that approximately one year has already passed. There were so many uncertainties last year at this time... but as time has progressed, I've seen things work out and there's even some sense/meaning in the struggles. I don't know where or with whom I'll be next year at this time... but I know that God is good and trustworthy regardless of country/circumstance/time/location/etc.

I was reading through some old journals from last September, and found some funny blurbs you guys might enjoy. Here goes...

08.09.05, written in the Heathrow airport: "The people are so obviously European! It cracks me up... I don't know how exactly you can tell, but you can. There's just something different about them. The way they carry themselves; the look; the style."

10.09.05, written in the hotel: "Independence! It's a beautiful, yet scary, thing. And I'm still trying to figure it all out.

11.09.05, written in the hotel: "I think, I really do, that things are going to be ok here... the only times I've freaked have been in the morning when I wake up and think, 'where am I and what the heck have I done?' "

Ah, life. My bittersweet symphony.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Positive Sayings Gone Bad

*tee hee*

Because Bizarro's on vacation, it's possible once again to say negative things such as "Das Leben ist ein Jammertal" without getting yelled at or slapped. So... while I'm at it, why not go ahead and change common, positive sayings into dreary epitaphs?

We have to thank Beatrice for this one: The light at the end of the tunnel is headlights from the train that's about to run you over. And you're usually the positive thinker, Beatrice!

Then there's the lovely saying that it's always darkest just before the stars come out, or something along those lines. But I say: it's always darkest just before it goes pitch black.


I always miss my Mamita. And now I miss Bizarro Mom, too. :)

Monday, September 04, 2006

The Update Post

  • Blog Logistic Update: As many of you know, I appreciate and enjoy your comments (unless they're degrading comments from Leo). So... if you look at the column on the right side of this blog, you'll see a section titled "And You Said..." Those are your most recent comments. By clicking on a name, you can go directly to the comment and read what you wrote.

  • Driver's License Update: This is still an open issue, and in the process of being clarified. The reason I haven't kept this issue up-to-date is because (1.) it changes practically every day and with every phone call and (2.) it's leading to insanity and premature greying. I could seriously devote an entire blog to this mess, but would rather not.

  • Boy Update: The answer is still a resounding "no", though I *gasp* held someone's hand the other day... but it wasn't like that. Just thought I'd throw that one out there to shock everyone back home. :)

  • Life in General Update: Slightly confusing. Interesting. Challenging. A little bittersweet. Generally manageable.
  • Sunday, September 03, 2006

    Sunday Morning Music, Revolts and Comparison Abolition (or, Eleanor's hubby finally has his own nickname)

    Well, today we had another Magical Sunday Morning Musical Experience. Neal was the Moderator, so of course he, Helmut, Cruiser* and I had to stir things up a little bit. And by "stir things up", I mean that Neal played an acoustic-drum-box-thing, and we sang three songs in a row (normally, there are readings or announcements between songs). It went well, and the reactions were all positive.

    Quite a few people in our church are extremely musically gifted, and it's been a joy and privelege being able to play with them and learn from them. A couple have even written and recorded some of their own music and have CDs out... so we're talking real pros here. :)

    Afterwards, over the usual post-church-service-coffee-and-cookies, several of us had a very interesting and lively conversation about music in general, music in the church, interaction and cooperation between band members, and various musical styles. 'Twas very helpful. I often find myself comparing my piano playing with Syd's, but as he and several others have said... no one plays better... we simply play different.

    Syd: "You need to stop saying that I play better than you."
    Mary: "Em..."
    Syd: "We play differently and each have our own style. One's not better than the other."
    Mary: "But sometimes different is better."
    Syd: "Yeah, you're right... I'm much better than you."

    Actually, only the first 3/5 of that conversation actually occurred. :)

    And differences are what make the world a Fascinating Magical Mystery Tour.

    Seriously, the more I play, the more I actually enjoy it. Sure, it's still a little nerve-wracking because so many of the songs are new, and I still get nervous playing in front of large groups of people... but overall it's been a good, healthy challenge.

    Lyric of the Day: "Roll up (and that's an invitation)... roll up (to make a reservation)... roll up (we've got everything you need)... roll up (satisfaction guaranteed)... roll up for the Mystery Tour." (Thanks to the Beatles)

    *Eleanor's husband, who finally has his own, personal nickname! *gives a standing ovation* He's a guitar-and-bass-guitar-playing-fiend, as well as one of the church Elders, right up there with Mr. P. *oooooh*

    Saturday, September 02, 2006


    Hello, allow me to introduce myself. My name is Mary Elizabeth and I'm socially awkward with funky hang-ups.

    For one of the first times since being here, I felt really weird and out of place. It's no one's fault but my own, though I'd like to think that the situation played a significant role. I've never done well in large groups of people, especially when I feel like everyone already knows eachother and has some sort of history together.

    Sometimes I wish I were more outgoing or chatty or spontaneous or "crazy", but that's simply not the way I'm wired. I can't completely let loose and be crazy unless I'm very comfortable with someone and have known them for a semi-long time. I can't be silly and chat/ramble on about nonsense, so I'll often say nothing. Sure, there's a wild side, but it only emerges with certain people or when the situation is just right.

    It's like George* with Frogger (an arcade game in a fatty fast food joint)... to beat the high score, there has to be just the right amount of grease on the joystick and you have to have just the right balance of grease and caffeine in your system.

    Obviously, my grease-caffeine ratio is off-balance.

    Lyric of the Day: "I want to see you... to see you high and lifted up, shining in the light of your glory. Pour out your power and love, as we sing 'holy, holy holy.' Holy, holy, holy... I want to see you." (thanks to a singer/songwriter unknown)

    *here's a Seinfeld reference for you, Shelby!