Diary of an Expat, Part 80
Short notes
Wednesday, the first of May, was a holiday here in Germany. We don't shuffle holidays around (moving them to an adjacent Monday or Friday) because that's bad luck, and in any case the first of May is the first of May regardless of what day it happens to fall on.

There's still a labour tradition in Germany, or at least in Berlin. I was in Kreuzberg Tuesday evening, and the population seemed to be about half policemen; they have a rioting tendency, those Kreuzbergers. In the past East Berlin was notorious for shenanigans on May Day (Labour Day, in much of the world), though I'm told this has now calmed down. Probably this has something to do with the squats where you'd expect this sort of thing to simmer all being turned into luxury apartments?

I spent the last couple of days out of the country, so I don't have much to say about Germany in particular this week. Instead, I'm going to relate a couple of things that I miss about the United States since moving here.

The first is peanuts. The Germans are aware, at least academically, of the existence of peanuts, but their peanut butter is terrible and they don't tend to use the noble thing very often. For me, this is sad; I enjoy myself a good handle of Erdnüsse every once in awhile. I have this on my mind because I contrived to pick up some peanuts at the local supermarket, and they are very uninspiring.

Another thing is YouTube. I've mentioned GEMA in the past, and how this effectively locks Germans out of much of YouTube, but even the rest of it now seems to be breaking. My download speeds are so poor videos do not seem inclined to even buffer, and a cursory look at the Internet suggests I am not the only German to be experiencing this issue.

To be honest, I do not think it's anything sinister on Google's part; probably, some group of servers has had to be taken out of rotation, or they're performing maintenance at their European facility. all the same, it doesn't take much conspiracy theorizing to note that without the ability to monetise other people's music videos YouTube isn't really making any money in Germany, and perhaps it's not exactly a priority to fix ;)

Hmm. What else?

Finnish taxi drivers are not big on tips. I've gotten used to rounding the amount of a bill up, telling that to the waiter, taxi driver, etc. and being handed back the appropriate amount of change. Three separate Finnish cab drivers shook their heads and tapped the price listed on the meter when I tried to offer them more. This would be a curious behavior even in Germany, but I suppose the northerners are a little inscrutable. God knows what the Finns are really getting up to.

Speaking of Finland, it's a little bizarre that I keep going there to find that the weather's better than it is here in Berlin. It's like we're being toyed with, and made to think that things are turning around when really nobody has any intention of doing anything of the sort. But I hear it's been snowing in Colorado, so I'm willing to settle.

Basically what I'm saying is that Berlin doesn't have a whole lot going for it right now, but I'm willing to grant that this might be because it's so late at night that it's now early in the next morning and I have yet to get to sleep because of a party still going on in the street outside my flat. One of the perils of living in the city, I suppose. Maybe on balance it's worth it.

Whatever. Going to try again. Join me next week, when I review all the currywurst places in Berlin!
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