Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Winter Is Coming

"Winter is coming..." This has always been a Stark word just as the Lannisters always say. "A Lanister pays his debts." But I am not talking about the TV series "The Game of Thrones" nor about the book where the series was based on but of the weather.

The last weekend of October saw us with the first signs of winter: snow. It was snowing last weekend, and quite heavily at that, especially in the high areas near the suburbs. It was indeed cold and I wasn't even ready for it as I haven't washed my winter jacket yet! Waahhhh!!! I had to make do with three layers of shirts and another jacket that is suitable for mild, cold weather.

It was a good thing that my hubby had a look of the weather forecast the day before so that he was able to change the car's summer tires to winter tires. Otherwise, it would be difficult for us drive around the city in the snow since the roads can be very dangerous when driving without proper winter tires. There was also a weather warning on widespread frost in our area issued by the Deutschen Wetterdienst yesterday so that drivers should take extra care.

I guess the autumn season is over, although the trees tell us it isn't just yet. I love winter but I don't like the damp cold days that come with it because my feet ache when the cold gets in my bones. I guess I should always keep myself warm to prevent myself from hurting. Also had to store up on fresh milk as hot milk chocolate never fails to drive the chills away. Speaking of which, I now have to make some... :-)

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Thesis Writing Blues

Tick tock tick tock... I am fully aware that the clock is ticking as I try to organize my thoughts while writing my master thesis. I must admit I am getting nowhere in the "Results and Discussion" part, which is essentially the heart of any thesis paper. I am now beginning to panic because I know that I barely have two months or even less until my presentation date and I must admit that I really need help! I realize now that although I am quite good at creative writing, I have lost my touch in technical writing. Have I been blogging too much?

Where should I get the inspiration and the help that I need then? I was poring over my notes and references, trying to figure out what to write first and how I should organize my results when an email arrived suggesting that I check out Studymode. What a heaven-sent! It is a website with a mission "to provide an idea encyclopedia that enables members to streamline their research process, jump-start, and focus their paper writing efforts." I guess I better read more as I just might get the inspiration that I need and be able to finally find my focus. I am also having some trouble with my citations so their citation generator will be a very helpful and handy tool. I find the website particulary helpful for students who have essay assignments and term papers as members can browse from over 650,000 model essays, term papers and book notes. One just needs to go through the FREE sign-up procedure first to get access to the the articles.

Well, wish me good luck in writing my thesis. I need all the luck I need, plus a little bit more time! 

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Piano Dealers in Stuttgart

I don't know how to play the piano but I do appreciate the beautiful music that it brings each time. Because we don't know how to play the piano, we obviously do not own one. Perhaps that will change now that our little girl is growing and she is interested most of all in music and dance, particularly ballet. I just know that one day, one would need to learn how to play the piano and play a few pieces that the little girl can dance to or for her to learn a few pieces herself. But where to buy good quality pianos?

I know there are a number of trusted and good piano dealers here in our area. I think I saw one near the Feuersee station and they offer among others, the finest Steinway pianos. I haven't got a chance to come into the shop yet but I know that I would learn a lot about pianos from this piano dealer, as expected for most piano expert consultants. 

I think a good Piano Dealer should offer free consulting service prior to sales so that the customer is guided in making a decision. They should also offer the option to rent a piano unit if the customer only wishes to use it for a specified period of time. It would also be great if they offer piano instructions or can refer customers to reputable piano teachers or music schools offering piano lessons.

I have a piano app on my phone which is designed for children. It is not much as it only has the basic 8 notes but my little girl has learned how to play Happy Birthday and Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star with it. With a real piano, the possibilities are endless. It would indeed be a wonderful past time for my little girl. Who knows?

Doc McStuffins

My daughter just loves watching Doc Mcstuffins, Disney Junior's latest animated series, which started airing on the paid channel Disney Junior last 17th of September. She is always thrilled and excited each time she watches this series that I had to record every episode so that she can watch it anytime she wants. She loves the characters so much especially Doc that I would find her roleplaying with her toys and pretending to be Doc or one of the patients OR I find myself playing the role of Doc and she being the little sister instead of the little brother because according to her: "Ich bin ein M├Ądchen und nicht ein Junge.. Darum bin ich die kleine Schwester" ("I am a girl and not a boy... that's why I am the little sister")... Oo nga naman! :)

Doc Mcstuffins is about a six-year old girl Dottie Mcstuffins who wants to become a doctor like her Mom when she grows up. Therefore as a six-year old, she already takes care of needy patients. Lovingly she takes care of exhausted racing cars and torn stuffed toys, so that her toy friends call her Doc. Every time she puts on her stethoscope, the toys magically awake  and come to life, allowing her to speak to them and find out how they can be cured again. Always on her side are Stuffy the proud stuffed dragon, the cuddly sheep Lambie, the careful hippopotamus Hallie and the hypochondriac snowma Chilly. Together with her friends Doc always finds the correct treatment for the toys. From the stories, children learn how they themselves stay healthy and why they must have no fear of the doctor's visit.

I also love the original new songs that go with the series, which is unfortunately in German but very interesting nonetheless. I love the upbeat theme song and the

Friday, October 12, 2012

So You Want to Blog?

I have been blogging on and off since 2008 through the encouragement of a friend. Anything just goes for my "mixed bag" blog. I blog just about anything, which is how this blog is called. Setting up a blog may sound easy but it actually takes more than just posting. It is quite easy to set-up a blog but to sustain it and obtain loyal readers is an entirely different story.

To create a successful website or blog, there are some things to consider. For one, you need to consider readership. Who is your target audience? Once you know your target audience, then you need to think of what topics they are most interested in that is also in line with your interests. When I first started with blogging, I thought about my family and friends who I left behind in the Philippines and thought that it would be a good idea to blog about my experiences, adventures and travels in a foreign country. 

Ideas do not always come so that sometimes, it is difficult to write. When you start your blog, try to ask yourself if you will be able to post at least once a week on the topic that you have chosen. If the answer is YES, then you are on the right track. If it's a NO, then you have to rethink whether it is a good idea to start blogging in the first place. Blogging entails passion and if you don't have the passion to write about the things that you love, then it would be for naught.

Reaching out to blog networks and making it a habit of responding to comments and commenting on other blog posts as well will also help to make your blog seem more interactive and reach out to people. This will also give you an idea whether your posts are relevant or interesting to your readers.

These are just some of my thoughts. As I am no blog guru, you can always google "how to make a website" to learn the technical and not-so-technical aspects. You can also check out for a step-by-step tutorial on setting up your very own website. 

Philippine Passport Renewal in Berlin

Since we are going home for the holidays and my daughter's passport is expiring in five months, we thought it would be best to renew it the soonest possible time. Why Berlin? It is indeed a loooong way from where we live but Berlin is the only consular office that offer passport services among other things. So we don't have a choice. Before, the Philippine Consulate office in Frankfurt still provided passport services but since the ePassport went in effect last  March 2011, processing of passports is only accepted in Berlin. So me and my little girl went to Berlin for a couple of days to apply for a new passport.

The weather wasn't cooperating en route and even while we were in Berlin. Thankfully, my little girl was up for a little adventure in the city as we tried to navigate our way from the Berlin main train station to our hotel, riding the train to get to the embassy office, etc. and all that while it was raining intermittently.

Unlike the other embassies which are mostly located in the "Embassy Quarter" on the Tiergarten, on the Unter den Linden and around the Brandenburg Gate, the Philippine Embassy in Berlin is located on the 6th floor of the Uhlandstrasse 97 building. To get there, one needs to take the U7 train and get off at Blissestrasse and take the Uhlandstrasse exit. The building is just across the street and you can see the Philippine flag right above the main entrance of the building.

A prior appointment is not necessary so we just went there. I filled up some forms for my daughter and also for me for the overseas absentee voting registration. Then we paid €60 for the passport and waited for a while until we are called for the capture of biometric data. I guess it took us less than an hour to get everything done. Next, we need to wait for a few weeks (a minimum of 30 working days) before the passport is ready, which the embassy will send us via Post.

On our way out, we decided to take some photos of the Embassy. My little girl especially loved the bear painted with the colors of the Philippine flag. And that was our next activity... "Bear Hunting in Berlin".

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