Sunday, September 11, 2011

Miscellaneous stuff on Sunday evening

I find it more and more difficult to watch American shows or comedies these days - the absolute horror that comes over people if they see a naked body part (apart from during sex scenes - and even then I still find myself wondering why so many women seem to feel the need to leave their bras on during sex), or if any bodily function is mentioned is harder and harder for me to accept because what used to be an over the top reaction added in for laughs has become so mainstream that it seems to have become the 'normal' way to think.  This thought has been brought to mind again recently as I started watching United States of Tara - I realise it is used in part to emphasise the difference between some of her alter egos and her but there have been a couple of parts where the daughter has really irritated me.

I've been to see two films in the cinema this weekend.  Long time since I've done that and apart from the heat (most cinemas here, at least the smaller ones, tend not to be air conditioned) I've really enjoyed it.  First up was Billy Wilder's One, Two, Three.  Some Like It Hot was a firm favourite at home when I was a kid and I've seen The Apartment and Buddy Buddy several times but apart from that haven't really seen a lot of Billy Wilder's films.  One, Two, Three was hilarious.   "Is everybody in this world corrupt?" - "I don't know everybody."

The second film was Taste the Waste - this is a documentary that was shown on television here a while ago and I remember only finding out about it a week or two later, when it was no longer available online.  Either it was just advertising for the film then or it has simply gained enough popularity to now be shown in cinemas all over.  Check if it will be near you soon, ask about it if it's not and maybe if enough demand is created, it will be shown all over.  Shocking footage (even when you know the facts behind it already) of the sheer quantities of food thrown away every day.  And of course, the statistics (yes, we all know the statistics can be made to say what you want but still...): the amount of food thrown away in Europe and North America could feed every starving person in the world. Three times over.

One of my local bakers was in the film too.  Knowing his shop, I know that he already offers day-old bread for sale at a reduced price (20% off).  Whatever is still leftover after that used to go to make animal feed but is now crushed up and mixed with sawdust to make pellets that he can use to heat the ovens to bake the bread.  If every bakery in Germany were to do the same, we'd need one less nuclear power plant.

Anyone else seen any good films recently?  I picked up a few leaflets for cinemas and theatres etc. and really want to try and make an effort to get out and do things every once in a while.

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Meal plan for week 36

Lunch - Zwiebelkuchen and tomato salad
Dinner - Chicken parcels (roasted on top of slices of courgette and tomato) with boiled potatoes

Lunch - Spinach and feta tart
Dinner - Leftover chicken and fried potatoes

Lunch - Spinach and feta tart
Dinner - Tomatoes and courgette with pasta

Lunch - leftover pasta
Dinner - tomato salad

Lunch - tomato salad
Dinner - I may go digging around in the freezer

Totally out of ideas - probably whatever of the list above I don't actually get around to making/eating.

How much is a good night's sleep worth?

Well, today the answer is 60 euro.

I arrived back late last night and after opening all the windows to let some air into the apartment I couldn't resist hitting the computer so that I could update my budget spreadsheet.  I had been keeping an eye on my bank accounts while I was away and had even thought to bring my list of codes so that I could do some transfers as soon as I got paid.  My overdraft balance is looking pretty improved at the moment but I have to admit I will need to withdraw money from that account before the end of the month as I have a few more bills due which are just about going to wipe out my current account.  I could have transferred less to the overdrawn account so that I was left with enough to cover the entire month but I think I will be far more careful to spend less when I know it's money coming from an overdrawn account than I might otherwise be.  I finally got the payment from the financial aid program in work - I had applied for that in relation to the tooth implant I had done last year (which cost 2,800 euro, of which I paid 2,500) and they offered me just over 1,200.  Fantastic.  It was paid to me with my salary and was partially taxed so I came out with 924 euro extra.  It's hard not to moan about it being taxed but really, it was money for free so how can I complain?  That money has been put aside to pay for expenses incurred while on holiday and also to pay for our planned choir trip in October.

I also finally received my tax refund, which amounted to nearly 1,500.  I have to figure out if that's correct now, based on the assessment notices that arrived while I was away.  I can't make head nor tail of them.  I seem to have gotten a big payment for 2008 (expected, as that was the year I moved here and I only worked here for five months as well as being able to offset some moving costs), a very small one for 2009 (when I had actually tried to offset some moving costs as well, which I had only received the invoice for in 2009) and then another big refund for 2010 (totally unexpected as I only had a few standard things to offset).  Mind you, if the one for 2010 is correct I'd be happy enough because that should be approximately what future years look like.  I think I'll need to get up early one day next week and take a trip down to the Finanzamt to check.

When I got back yesterday I saw a notice in the hallway that my upstairs neighbour is having a party this evening.  If I had known that earlier, I would have just stayed in my sister's for another day.  At least he has given a day's notice this time - he had a party last year not long after he moved in without mentioning it to anyone and I had to go up a couple of times before they finally turned the music (and the dancing) down to a level I could sleep through at two o'clock.  Having had a long day travelling yesterday following a lovely but not quite as relaxing holiday as hoped (families are just hard work sometimes!), I had been looking forward to a couple of nights' good sleep in my own bed before starting back to work on Monday.  With the prospect of a party raging above my head until the small hours tonight I decided that I really don't care about spending money on something that's a bit unnecessary and went trawling the internet to see if I could get a cheap hotel room for the night.  Yes, there is a possibility that I could find a friend to loan me their spare room or couch to sleep on, which would obviously be cheaper.  But I've been with other people more or less non-stop for two weeks and I really needed these couple of days to myself (which is why I came back a couple of days early in the first place).

I couldn't find anywhere for less than 79 euro online (for just the room, no breakfast) without having to travel for nearly an hour but when I was walking home from the market I realised that there's at least one hotel on that road that I pass by all the time and barely even notice.  I walked in, asked if they had a room and am glad I did, as they did have one and it's all mine for just 60 euro, including a full breakfast in the morning.  There's no bath so my idea of making an evening of it and having a nice long soak has been scotched but on the plus side it's only four minutes walk away from home so I won't have to spend half an hour getting there either.  Some might consider this a foolish waste of money but I think the hopefully good night's sleep I will get is absolutely worth it.