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[26.05.06] America-2005: Conclusions
[26.05.06] America-2005: New Jersey, Amish and museums
[04.05.06] America-2005: New York City
[11.01.06] America-2005: California
[27.12.04] Herr Klyagin vs. domnul Klyagin
  [03.08.04] Danube tales
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14 Jun 2002 :: Finally I got the latest creation of "Nightwish" - one of my favourite rock-bands. The album was called "Century Child". Before one of my colleagues downloaded it via audiogalaxy, I could only look at the announcement at their site and eyeing hunglily. I like all of their works... [ more.. ]

04 Apr 2002 :: Well, there are some news for today. Let's start with centericq. Today is the third day since the IRC protocol support implementation started. And there is a visible progress. The CVS repository contains the changes that can be easily checked out with the cicqsync script... [ more.. ]

19 Jun 2003 :: Hope you liked the quoted things just like I did. As to the guy's name, he preferred not to expose his identity and asked me to call him Pumpsie Hobergoffer on my web site. Well, that's how I'll do... [ more.. ]

[ 27th Dec 2004 ] Herr Klyagin vs. domnul Klyagin | 11 comments | leave a comment |

It looks like now I have to comment on the rumours that Konst changed his location another time. Indeed, having practically used to be addressed as "domnul" ("mister" in Romanian) during the last three years, nowdays I have to get used with another title, -- Herr. And yes, I have recently moved from Bucharest to Berlin. Having my internet connection installed at home, I am here to describe my first impressions. First, about the moving itself.

DHL Express my dreams

Besides ordering an ADSL connection, I had one more problem after the arrival. I had to repair my home computer, which was destroyed by the "excellent" service of the world-famous DHL courier service. It started when being in Bucharest, Konst ordered expedition of his personal things to Germany. After packing the things up into two boxes of TV-set-size, I was asked to perpare the documents for the customs. In my humble opinion, for 660 EUR (that was the cost of this excellent service; the new company told me however they would cover the expences) not only that the client must be assisted to fill in various forms, but also a separate Thai-massage girl must be provided during the whole time of the expedition. Instead, they asked me also to measure the weight of the boxes at home. Not having any industrial weighing-machine at home by chance, I had to write down some numbers, like how it looked to me how many kgs the boxes had.

The next day a guy from the Romanian branch of DHL had to come by to pick up the boxes. So I discovered another due of mine. As a client, I had to stay at home during 4 hours waiting for the courier guy to arrive. They also said the guy couldn't phone 5 minutes before arriving, because of their corporate rule. It was extremely uncomfortable for me, for my office was just a few minutes away from home. Another solution, according to what the lady named Alina told me on the phone, was to take the boxes from home to the office and wait for the courier there. But no chance for a call anyway.

I was sitting in an empty appartment, without the computer (it was already packed), reading a book. After about 3 hours the phone rang. No, it wasn't my grandma on the phone. It was the hero of the day, the DHL courier, who now was kindly asking where it would be better to park his car, because in 5 minutes he'd be there, and "you know how difficult it is to find a parking place in the downtown". The "corporate rule" turned into a mockery.

Having paid my own 660 EUR (the company was going to pay me back as soon as I arrive), for some unknown reason I helped the DHL employee to carefully take the boxes down to the car. It 3 days they were supposed to be in a good shape at the gate5 office in Berlin.

It took them 2 weeks to deliver the bundle. And it was absolutely not necessary to be careful when loading the boxes into that car. It neither made any sense to mention there was a computer in the packing list. Normally, it would mean some fragile electronics that must be treated accordingly. So when I unpacked the boxes here in Germany, I had an impression that a dump-track was used to transport and unload them. One of the sides of the box, which contained CDs and books was broken and then sticked together with a scotch tape with the logo of the expedition company. Inside it didn't look so good either: some of CD-cases were cracked, the glass on a photo-frame was broken, and the majority of other small things looked like they were dragged over a floor of concrete, for they had skratches with white dust inside them. In the second box there were clothes and the computer without monitor. From the first glance outside it looked well, but when I took a look inside, I saw a network card, which somehow got between the CPU and its cooler (!). I really cannot imagine what kind of stress the computer case must had been exposed to, so that the cooler tears off the CPU. Also, because of the case bend, the CD-ROM changed its position being fixed inside. Testing which followed showed that the MB and CPU flied out.

Repairs

Due to the problems described above I finally got my home computer up and running after two weeks since the arrival. Paper stuff, first-time arragements and the new job wouldn't let me address the new hardware buying issue too fast. Nevertheless, I pulled myself together and went shopping. I bought myself the following pieces: CPU of the fashionable Sempron series, 512mb DDR and an ASRock motherboard. Looks like the vendor wanted to express soemthing like "solid as rock" with its brand name, though my first idea was to add another "s", so that it be "ass-rock" or "rock in the ass". The CPU, memory and the "rock in the ass" cost me 180 EUR and still they are performing good enough here.

ADSL

The forced upgrade was made the same day when I should had had an ADSL connection installed. I always said that a home without an internet connection is a kennel, so I was a bit in a hurry with it. Provider called T-Online managed to surprize me. My colleague and I accidentally found their support hotline in Russian (in Germany! :). A girl with a very womanly voice picked up the phone and told me about the types of connection they had. She also took my order for an analogue line and an ASDL. In a few days my phone line was connected and then they sent me modem and splitter devices. In a week my internet-connection was there too.

Frankly speaking, I never had to deal with ADSL before. So setting it up took some time. In Romania I had a TV-cable connection, which didn't require the ppp module. Thus, it wasn't in my Gentoo system, while in order to bring up ADSL one requires ppp over ethernet. Then I booted the first Gentoo CD hoping to setup the connection there. The point is that it's recommended to have a net connection when installing Gentoo, so that it can download packages. That's why developers included various tools to relatively easily setup a connection into the boot CD. Among those tools there were the ADSL scripts called adsl-setup and adsl-start respectively. In the bunch of papers that t-online ISP sent to me, there was a note with my username/password pair. A friend who also had ADSL from the same provider explained to me how to make up a username from the written numbers. It was FirstnumberSecondnumber#Suffix@t-online.de. After adsl-setup generated /etc/ppp/pppoe.conf file, I tried to bring up the connection with adsl-start. The latter told me there was something wrong.

However, I didn't give up and tried to setup ADSL in Windows first, hoping to use the CD which I received along with the first manuals by snail mail from the ISP. In Windows'98 the software was installing slowly and each time hanged up in the middle, not showing the dialog, whose screenshot was in the book. The dialog was meant to be used for connection parameters introduction. Then I decided to return to Linux and to continue trying there. It was almost 4am. I am extremely happy about the flexible working schedule at my new company. The contract says it's up to the employee when he comes to the office. It might be either 9am or 1pm, and noone will be there to punish him.

So when the adsl-start script couldn't bring up the connection again, I thought there was something at the provider's side. Just in case, I looked into the script itself and found DEBUG environment mentioned. Running DEBUG=1 adsl-start gave me a path to a log file, whose contents said there was no /dev/ppp device. "Interesting way to treat errors" -- I though, and tried to load the ppp_generic module manually. It happened to use some unresolved symbols frm slhc, which was not listed in modules.autoload of the 1st Gentoo CD. Issuing modprobe shlc solved this one. Then I got my connection up, ran chroot /mnt/gentoo /bin/bash and successfully downloaded and installed the needed packets, so that to be able to use ADSL in Gentoo installation on the hard-disk too. Here I conclude that Linux kicks ass, though sometimes it needs to be helped a little to do that.

Habitat

Besides getting the things moved, the new company also paid my air-ticket and rented an appartment, which was actually an advance given from my first salary. The appartment has one room, and it's not worse than the one I had in Bucharest. Even better, for it has the following stuff. A set of quite fresh furniture, which I had to rearrange a little so that to put the computer somewhere. Plus, there is a TV, frige, an electric kettle, a coffee-filter and a vacuum cleaner. However, in comparison with $150/mo which I used to pay in Bucharest, 487 eur is quite a scary price. At the other hand, from my own experience, the process of getting used to the European prices ends when one stops converting everything into hrivnas/lei/roubles and getting pissed by the results of such conversion.

The fastest way to rent an place to stay in Berlin is to apply to the services of companies that own whole blocks and rent appartments in them. They send their offers in PDF files, which also have pictures showing how the appartments look like. To my great surprize the interior I saw was pretty similar to the one I saw on the pictures. The reason I got surprized was that in the world of the modern commerce photos on the ads usually exaggerate the goods value. To have a good example, just go to the nearest McDonalds and take a hamburger. Then place it somehow so that you can see both your burger and its congener as it's shown on the ad on the wall. See yourself how uglier the one you bought is.

As to the appartment, here are shots from the ad.

And below is the interior formed in Konst's habitat during the 20 days of living:

Quite a similarity, huh?

Deutschland

Besides the appreciable change of the adderess form from domnul to Herr, the outside look from my window changed partially. I say partially because in Bucharest I could see -- except for extremely foggy days -- the Communist mega-construction of the Ceausescu era, the 2nd biggest building in the world, the People's House. It may be strange, but here in Germany I also can see (when there is no fog) a symbol of the human-faced socialism. It's the DDR TV-tower on Alexanderplatz in the Eastern part of the city. One can say that the not existing anymore country of my childhood, the USSR, keeps on reminding me about itself.

Many say about the cultural shock that happens to people from Eastern Europe as soon as they arrive somewhere in the West. I was asked several times if I had such a shock.. Now, what is the polite may to answer on this question? Fuck the shock. I already saw all of this, though Germany is the first EU country I have ever visited. I have never to the States either. However, I've been to Israel, Hungary, Romania.. I mean, one can even enjoy some of the market economy miracles in Eastern Europe as they recently appear in the region.

However, there are still a few things I liked here because of their obvious convenience:

  • Tickets-machines in the subway and in trams. One should press on the sensor screen and chose a ticket type, then put in some coins or a banknote. Then the ticket is printed and the rest is given. No ticket-office, no turnstiles at the entrance. There are inspectors who impose penalty on those without tickets.
  • Machines to allocate places on the queue in official institutions. One comes, presses a button and the machine prints a paper with a number. Then one should sit in the corridor and wait until there is his number on the electronic board. The board also shows the room number where to go along with the queue number. So then you enter, give the ticket to the official guy, who serves you then. No standing from the early morning with written lists, no "you weren't standing here". The machine is more difficult to cheat on.
  • Online-banking service. For payments such as salary and for paying for different services one must have a bank account. The bank gives you a plastic card to access the account as soon as you open one. Such card can be used only to widthdraw money at ATMs. A credit card is given a bit later, in 3 months, if they see there are some money being regularily transferred into the account. So I don't have any CC so far. Everything except for cash withdrawal can be done online via web-interface. It will show salary from the employer as soon as it's there, and if there was any payment for articles -- there is complete info on when it came and how much was there. If you want to make a payment for something, just specify the recepient parameters and transfer the needed sum.

Berlin

My previous knowledge about the Berlin Wall is a real disappointment. I was stupidly thinking that the respective construction used to split Germany into the Eastern (GDR) and Western (FRG) parts. But just in case I wasn't alone in my ignorance, some of the readers will now find out something new :) The Wall used to separate Berlin and not whole Germany. Western Berlin used to be an enclave within the territory for the GDR. It was ruled jointly by the US, France and others. It was quite a shame for me not to know that. Despite many things changed till then, the architecture in the both parts of the city differs a lot. Say, the area nearby Landsberger Alee reminded me of the bedroom communities of Kharkov, Kiev, Chisinau and Bucharest at the same time. At the other hand, Kurfurstendamm looked like Broadway to me, at least I imagine it, although I never was there. So, Berlin is a very different city indeed. The population is about 3 millions and a half.

Because of being multi-national, Berlin is quite a tolerant and cosmopolitan city. The district I live -- Wedding -- is in the Western part. Though it's frequently referred to as a Turkish district, not only Turks live here. Judging from the lastnames on the mailboxes at the entrance to my block, there are many Germans and some foreigners also. Although my living place is in Western Berlin, the office of my company is located in the Eastern part. Only 20 minutes walking actually. During the first-time I was pretty amazed by the fact I have to pass a former checkpoint the two Berlins twice a day.

Speaking of the internationalist character of the megapolis, I cannot help mentioning my own alikes, those who came from the former USSR. I remember some friends used to tell me one can hear Russian on every step in the German capital downtown. But from my own observations, it is not exactly like that and really depends on a district. Say, in Wedding during 20 days only once I saw a group of teenagers speaking Russian. At the other hand, if you go closer to the downtown, to Alexanderplatz, there are indeed relatively quite a lot of the ex-Soviets. I said "relatively", since it depends on what you compare it with. Remembering my visit to Israel four years ago, must admit I was really surprized by Tel-Aviv, where almost every third group of people spoke Russian. That's what I call a lot.

Let's get back to the languages issue. To my deepest regret, while Russian is spoken quite widely in the street, I still haven't heard anyone speak Romanian here. I really hope into some Romanian-speaking community so that I can maintain the fluent knowledge of Romanian I have now. It cost me 3 years of learning and practice so I don't want to lose it.

Finally, as a great fan of foreign languages I already started learning German. So far my only teacher is a grammar book, however after the New Year I'm going to attend the language school. Cases, articles that control the cases, declining articles, verb prefixes changing their position.. Not really as easy as English, but still not that complicated as Russian is. So I'll manage to handle it. There is simply no other way :)



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