Something More About Me

After nearly three weeks without any blog post I finally managed to sit down again and write a bit. We had tons of stuff to do here plus I turned thirty this month and thus I had no motivation to do any blogging related work. However things calmed down and I managed to convince myself that nothing is really different after turning thirty.

My upraded refuge

Some of you might remember the blog article I had a year ago titled “Something About Me” in which I showed you my little refuge. That place is very dear to me as I have most of my books all around me and most importantly also my computer. This time I will show you one more time a picture of my refuge as it has a new addition since my birthday in form of a Lego Tie Fighter, indeed it is looking great here (though Molag Bal might be sad as I had to move him a bit more to the right to make space). Besides that little addition in my refuge I have something more to share with you about me.

Come shrimpy shrimpy

At some point I managed in some blog post (I really don’t remember when it was and in which article) that we have few pets. For one we have two bunnies which had already their introduction nearly two years ago and then we have some animals which prefer to live under water. Somehow I was able to convince my wife to get one aquarium when we moved here however the number increased within short time to three tanks.  When I was a kid I had also one aquarium and I loved it but had to get rid of it once I started going abroad for an exchange year during my high school years. After that I always wanted to start again but never had the space, time and money for it. Ever since we decided to move to Germany I made plans to change that situation and get myself an aquarium immediately after moving.

My main tank

My main tank is a small 60l (~16gal) Optiwhite Aquarium and is standing right in our living room. In that aquarium I focused heavily on the appearance with rocks, roots and a lot of different plants. To get the most out of the plants I have a strong LED lights, a CO2 system and I am fertilizing with special products. Besides all those plants I have also several shrimps, snails and fishes (Octocinclus affinis and Trigonostigma heteromorpha). The other two tanks are each 30l and I got them to them to have another home for my shrimps. They are also filled with all kinds of plants however I am not doing anything special with them and in the past two years I did not even need to cut the plants whereas in the main tank I need to swing the scissors every week!

One of the Trigonostigma heteromorpha

The pictures of the main tank are appearing a bit blurry as the CO2 is getting into the water with a diffuser which created millions of little bubbles. To be honest I did not want to show the main tank as it is not ready and I have the feeling it will never be ready. Just in the beginning of the year I had to cut down everything to a bare minimum and throw out tons of plants due to a heavy Cladophora infestation (nasty nasty kind of algae). Though I still have few Cladophora nests left in the aquarium and the plants haven’t recovered 100% I decided it is time to take a few pictures. In case I would ever compete in some aquascaping competion (yes there are competitions for that!) I would need to wait another few months for all the plants to recover.

A small growing Bucephalandra sp. (no idea about its name)

I do hope I did not bore you too much with this post but it is a hobby I have been doing since we moved to Germany and I just loved it. For me it is just so relaxing and pleasing to create little landscapes under water and give the animals a nice environment to live in. I even have big plans for new and much bigger tanks in the future but that will have to wait till we move into a big house or something like that.

What are your hobbies you do in order to relax?

Be sure to follow me also on Facebook and on Twitter as I will post there occasionally pictures which do not find their way into my blog posts. Furthermore I also have a YouTube Channel in which some videos might pop up from time to time

https://www.facebook.com/CrazyChineseFamily

https://twitter.com/CraChineseFam

https://www.youtube.com/

Family Gathering

This weekend we had just our first Family Gathering since 2005. Back in the day it was organized, just like all the previous Family Gatherings, by my Uncle who passed away a few years after that last meeting. For twelve years we did not meet in such a way again until my cousin (daughter of my uncle) decided to change this and started contacting us last autumn.

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The old boys playing some game together (cousin and my brother), in the background my father

First of all it started with a simple family group chat on WhatsApp and from then on the planning progressed quickly (Even my 75 year old father is in that group). The destination for the gathering was found in short time as it was the same place the family had met before. In my case I was around ten years of age when I was there for the first and only time. Back then the group was much smaller as none of the many cousins had children. Even at our last gathering in 2005 there were still many children not yet born. For this meeting we had ten kids making it a total of 21 family members at this gathering. This is the “close” family we have here in Germany. I doubt we would ever manage to plan a Gathering for the entire family as it could easily reach up to 150 people or more.

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All in one group picture

The little village called Tönning was our meeting place right by the North Sea. It is a fairly small village with just 5000 inhabitants. Due to its location it was an important sea port till the end of the 19th century. Then the Kiel Canal was built which made the route via the Eider river obsolete. These days the historical port is a tourist destination with lovely old houses which have been transformed into restaurants and hotels. Just few minutes from our hotel is the Multimar Wattforum which is an information center for the Wadden Sea National Park. This place is just great for kids as they can learn everything about the Wadden Sea from the tides over the important work of the many different worms to the big sharks and wales living in the North Sea. I’d say we all enjoyed the time spent there and it was just so fascinating to see what animals are all living there.

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Later at the dinner (table with tons of kids not shown is to the left)

Later that day we all had a lovely dinner together which lasted until the late evening hours. All in all it was a wonderful time and so great to see all of my cousins again. Especially Nathan had a great time with so many other kids around playing with him. By the end he was so exhausted that he started to fall asleep while sitting at the dinner table. Even my late Uncle was present at the dinner in form of a picture one of his daughters had brought with her portraying him with a big small and raising a pint. The good thing about our close family is that we all live in the same State and that from my hometown (which is right in the middle of the State) it is to each one of my cousins it just take a bit over one hour by car. Now I just hope that we will be able to organize such gathering again in the near future and not to wait another twelve years. We have high hopes to have such meeting again perhaps next year!

Do you have family gatherings?

Be sure to follow me also on Facebook and on Twitter as I will post there occasionally pictures which do not find their way into my blog posts. Furthermore I also have a YouTube Channel in which some videos might pop up from time to time

https://www.facebook.com/CrazyChineseFamily

https://twitter.com/CraChineseFam

https://www.youtube.com/

Real Competence Vol. 2

I honestly did not expect to write so soon again about the competence of my dear Chinese mother-in-law. Back in November I wrote about her most recent disasters and I must say it helped a lot to let it all out. However she did not stop there and the whole madness accumulated till now to unbearable levels.

All the misshappenings of her always have either one of these reasons

  1. She does NOT listen!
  2. She decides ON HER OWN what is best!

Usually I have nothing against when people decide on their own what to do as long as it does not affect us negatively. The problem is that each and every single of her own decisions has only created trouble for us.

I am in control of this
I have this situation under control!

Now I am going to tell you just one story which lasted for a couple of months. In those couple of months both of the reasons of Chaos happened. It all involved that we wanted to transfer some money from China to Germany. As over 95% of our customers are from China they pay in RMB and that money stays for a while there. We keep it always in China for a while as we have to wait for the best exchange rate. The thing is we are only a small small company and can not afford staff in China and thus in order to do all the money related things we are stuck with MIL. She takes care of all the money transactions and I know that sounds very scary. We wanted father-in-law for this job but MIL ain’t going to give any money into FIL’s care. So what could possibly go wrong?

First of all she told us one day “I can’t send this year any money anymore. The banks are only allowing X Amount of Euros per year per person”. Okay that sounds reasonable but that got us thinking how on earth other small businesses run by Chinese can possibly continue their work when they run out of money in between. So my wife asked around and they all answered that they have several accounts in the different banks so it is no problem. My wife told this her mother and she said it is not possible. Strange, very strange why would it be different in our case? After days of annoying MIL about this topic she then finally answered “Oh, I don’t want to exchange and send the money from the other accounts as they might have higher handling fees.” What? She knew about it the entire time and let us run dry on money on several occasions because the other banks MIGHT have higher handling fees? Why on earth would we care about few RMB higher fees when we have a business to run? My dear wife all furious asked her mother about it but no reply for nearly the whole day. Later that day she send a message “Oh, I had a long nap, didn’t see your messages till now”…a 6 hour nap, alright.

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I am the best, even this big fish knows it

Sounds bad? It will just get worse. The money we earn stays always for a few months in China due to the exchange rate. My wife checks daily when it might be the best time for changing it and then tells her mother to do so. Guess how often we got the reply “Oh, you should have told me sooner, I exchanged it just few days/ weeks ago”. Indeed she found thus far always the worst exchange rates and thus destroying some of our money. This is the reason my wife told her last time not to change all the money but just a small part of it. No, somehow that message never arrived in MIL’s brain as she did the exact opposite and now we get to the part where she sends the money to us.

Since the beginning of the year the whole banking system changed a bit once again and now you can only pick from a few “Reasons” when transferring money abroad. MIL told us all of those reasons we can choose from and it all didn’t really make sense. There was stuff like “Needed for travels”, “Buying an apartment abroad”, “Investment” and stuff like that. Mh, strange and none of the things we could select did fit our purpose. Again my wife did all kind of research and in fact there was one reason which fit our purpose but MIL never mentioned it. In order nothing could go wrong my wife got herself the form , filled it all out and send it to her mother to use when transferring the money. Now we got the money but hey: The reason did not fit at all with what was on the form and also the amount of money was wrong. Thing is MIL had ignored the printed form entirely and just freestyled everything. Furious wife sent MIL again dozens of messages which were not replied till the next day “I was at dancing class and afterwards I was just too tired to check my phone”. Too tired to check her phone? In fact she shared on WeChat (kind of the Chinese version of WhatsApp) all kinds of weird stories of other people for the whole day but she could not answer her daughters messages.

P.S. by now we got it more or less figured out with MIL when it comes to transferring money. However this whole story meant also countless of hours harassing the local tax office/ getting our tax statement right as MIL had messed up so badly.

Do you have experiences with people who do always the exact opposite of what you told them?

Be sure to follow me also on Facebook and on Twitter as I will post there occasionally pictures which do not find their way into my blog posts. Furthermore I also have a YouTube Channel in which some videos might pop up from time to time

https://www.facebook.com/CrazyChineseFamily

https://twitter.com/CraChineseFam

https://www.youtube.com/

My crazy Chinese Family I married into…