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Hello world!

January 5, 2012

10 PRINT “Hello world!”
20 GOTO 10

I think that’s how it goes. I haven’t written any BASIC in ages. For about as long, in fact, as it’s been since I used the expression “grownup points”. Or rather “vuxenpoäng”. It’s Swedish and means the same thing. If it is indeed a thing in the English-speaking world. Do other teenagers award each other grownup points when somebody has done something percieved as particularly grownup, or was it just me and my friends, back when BASIC was still a legitimate beginner’s programming language?

I used to have a blog a while back. It had certain drawbacks. It was in Swedish, so I couldn’t share it with most of my online aquaintances. It was anonymous to the point of obscuring my gender and age, which made it difficult to comment on certain issues. As a woman I have the privilege to call feminist columns overblown, for instance. If I try to do the same thing as a genderless handle on the internet, I’m percieved as a grumpy man who thinks all women should go back to the kitchen and begrudges them the right to vote. Ultimately though, the reason I gave up blogging was that it took too much time. It was fun and all, but the demands of work became too pressing.

Ouch! One grownup point awarded!

Oh dear. I’m ironically behaving as a teenager even though I’m thirty. Well, I got a reason. A stupid reason. As of 2012, I lost my job. I didn’t get fired or anything, I’ve just never had a contract without a time limit in my life. And my last contract ran out of time before I found another one. So I’m currently jobless, or out-of-work, or between jobs, or whatever it is you’re supposed to call it in polite English.

Here, let me spell it out in the vernacular of my country of residence: ARBEITSLOS.

That’s not Swedish. That’s German. A lovely language for bureaucracy and impeccable impoliteness. Every freaking letter I recieve from Arbeitsamt, sorry, Bundesagentur für Arbeit, reminds me to inform myself of the legal consequences of not doing what they ask. Lovely.

I like the name Arbeitsamt. It means “department of work” or “governmental agency of work” or someting. The German word “Amt” doesn’t have a perfect English counterpart. Anyway, I like the name Arbeitsamt because it sounds a lot like the Swedish word “arbetsamt” which means “laborious, toilsome”. Multi-language pun, yay! The bureaucrats and politicians of Germany think otherwise. They noticed that nobody really likes Arbeitsamt. And instead of changing the way that agency works (how about not treating everybody like a prospective cheater who will only keep in line when constantly threatened with the police? Kthxbye) they decided to go the American way and change the name. Hence “Bundesagentur für Arbeit”. It means exactly the same thing, only using the Latin word “Agentur” rather than the German word “Amt”, and throwing in a “Bundes-” (=”federal”) for good measure. New name, clean slate, now everybody are free to think better of us!

Only not. Because behind the name “Bundesagentur für Arbeit” it’s still the old evil Arbeitsamt. Plus, “Arbeitsamt” has three syllables. “Bundesagentur für Arbeit” has seven. No way I can be bothered to chew that mouthfull!

Evil though they may be, Arbeitsamt don’t take up all that much of my time. So I thought I could start a new blog, one where I try to correct what went wrong last time. Overall language: English (with lots of Swedish and German thrown in, because hey, it’s my blog, multi-language puns is where my creativity lives). And full disclosure of who I am. Actually, it seems like I, in the course of my ramblings, have managed to disperse most of the relevant information about me. Let’s condense it into one paragraph for ease-of-reference.

Name: Ester Lüken
Gender: female
Age: 30 years (ok, 29 years 11 months, shut up)
Nationality: Swedish
Country of residence: Germany
Profession: Chemist/Chemical engineer

I bet you thought I was a programmer or something, what with me starting this post with a BASIC joke, but I actually haven’t been all that much into computer programming for the past ten years. I liked BASIC, and later Java, but couldn’t quite wrap my head around C++, and then lost interest. Curly electron arrows and stinky liquids were just that much more fun.

Ok, I’m off to write some application letters. We’ll see if I come back, of if this turns into another of those myriad one- or two-post blogs I came upon while trying to find a good name for this one.

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