Thursday, June 13, 2013

The Big Dig on Hochstrasse

Yes in deed, in normal conditions street parking is never easy to find on Hochstrasse.  Refer to my May 24th post "Major Milestone Achieved!! Second Sonderparkberechtigung Obtained"

It's been much worse lately since they have been repairing the street that the city tore up last year to put in new sewer pipes.  The street is cobblestone and the asphalt patches are finally being replaced with new cobblestones.  This is nice, as the asphalt does not quite have the je ne sais quoi as cobblestone.

This re-cobblestoning process is apparently a lost art that the city workers are trying to figure out.  First they put up "No Parking" signs on the street (a street that mind you already has limited parking), along with some red and white barrier things, steel plates and orange blinking lights to form an alter - so to speak - and then go away for a week or so.

After they come back, the offending asphalt is removed in a rather violent and noisy manner.  They leave again - I presume to get further instructions from some very all knowing person.

After some effort that takes many, many days, the "alter" is prepared for the new cobblestones.  This involves a lot more noise.  A large truck brings the stones and dumps them into a big misshapen pile.  Many layers of dirt are deposited on the alter and tamped down with gas engine powered tamper (I am sure this is not the correct name).

The next phase of the event involves the HMFDIC (you must know what this means, if not do not ask), who keeps picking up one cobblestone at a time and stares at it and turns it to inspect all sides and stares for awhile longer.  Often he will toss the stone aside and then start the process all over.

Once he and a cobblestone have a melding of the mind (this takes place all the while on bended knees in a praying position) he places the stone just so in the alter and then gently taps on the stone with a ceremonial hammer like thing, using some secret rhythm.  During this ritual another city worker is standing by admiring the Stone Whisperer's work. I guess he is an apprentice.  Very often there will be two teams working side by side, engaged in some type of slow race.

I have attached a picture of the ritual taken from a secret hiding place.  Be careful not to get caught with this documentation of the cobblestone ritual.  If you are found with it in your possession there will be a pox on your street for a minimum of three years.  The city will come and replace the sewer pipes, leaving the street surface a mess for at least one year.  Then there will be a new crew who will tear up the patched street and go away for several months before returning to complete the work.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Logic and the Führerscheinstelle im Ordnungsamt*

Logic teaches rules for presentation, not thinking. 

-Mason Cooley

Logic is neither an art nor a science but a dodge.

Logic! Good gracious! What rubbish!
-E. M. Forester

Such is logic when it comes to obtaining a German Drivers License - especially with a Motorcycle Endorsement.

I may have mentioned earlier that there is a nice little "logical" agreement between many of the States in America and Germany, where your American drivers license is exchanged for a German drivers license with no need to take a written or driving test - just pay the fee. So happens that my PA drivers License is honored in the exchange agreement.  This makes one of the necessities when moving to Germany very easy.  

Oh yeah - hold on!  Not so if you also need a Motorcycle Endorsement.  

For some reason the Führerscheinamt (Department of Motor Vehicles) has it in their "logic" that it's OK to just give an American a German drivers license (provided you pay the fee) for an automobile with no written or driving tests required.  Mind you the driving laws and road signs are not insignificantly different here, but never mind that.

But, if you also want the Motorcycle Endorsement on your American drivers license to be transferred to your German drivers license - "Forgedaboudit" (this is not German, it's New Jersey-ese).  

You must take the theory (written) and practical (riding) test.  OK - so what's the big deal, other than an inconvenience?  Well, let me tell you...

TÜV administers the tests for all of Germany.  In order to be eligible to take the tests a Fahrschule (driving school) must recommend that you are ready to take the test.  This means that you need to sign up with a Fahrschule.  Fortunately, Judith knows some very nice people at Peppel's Fahrschule.

They organized everything and I was able to study the German regulations on line, which a good thing because there is no little Driving Test Study Book like in America.

Example of the On Line study guide - same thing as the actual test

But, the regulations are pretty different and there is a lot of them and they are really bizarre.  For example, can you figure this question out?

You want to turn out of a road with a sunken kerbstone into another road.  A car is coming from the left.  What applies here?
  1. Whoever turns into a road over a sunken kerbstone must wait
  2. The rule “right before left”
  3. The sunken kerbstone is of no relevance for the obligation to wait
What the hell is a sunken curbstone?  No one knows...

After taking about 175 (no kidding) practice tests on line I felt I was ready to go to TUV and take the test.  The big day was this past Monday.  The test is given by a computer program.  So promptly at 10:45 on a gray and rainy Monday morning myself and about ten others gathered at TÜV for the test.  Most everyone was taking the normal driving test - not the motorcycle test.  I was of course the only American.  I did get to take the test in English at least.

Twenty minutes later I was finished and even though I know the answer to the "Sunken Kurbstones" question they didn't ask. BTW, the correct answer is number 1.

I did however Ace the test!!!

Now... the riding test is next.  Weave through little orange cones, go in circles, panic brake, blah, blah blah.  But the catch is there is also an on road test after the little orange cone test.

The test is in about two weeks - wish me luck!

*License Office in the Clerk's Office