Archive for the 'Die Deutsche Leben' Category

Feb 21 2015

The Green Life

Published by under Die Deutsche Leben

The S.O. works for a German company. She in the last year was moved up to a position where she works enough hours to have to pay German taxes-and receive German benefits, particularly German health insurance. For me it is yet more proof that the nay-sayers in the US are truly selfish and uncaring. Her health card works well, her co-pays are low, and contrary to what my idiot countrymen say back home, its not socialized medicine. Her health insurance is with  a private company-and she pays her share of the premiums. I'll come to my arguments on health care in a different post, but I find it interesting how misunderstood Europe is by Americans.

Consider this flawed line written in a very flawed publication on line, The Daily Beast, trying to not so subtly smear Germany yet again.

Europe’s much ballyhooed attempt to go “green”has raised energy costs throughout the continent. Ultimately, the effects of high energy prices tend to fall on the middle and working classes, as well as on manufacturing industries, which are are now scouring the world, including the southern United States, for lower cost alternatives.

 

 Interesting, if not more than a little overwrought. While it is true that fuel prices over here are higher than in the United States, its also to be expected in a country that is an almost 100% importer of oil. But it is wrong to assert that by wanting to protect the environment and recycle, that it has made it impossible to do business over here. The facts do not bear that fact out.  We should turn that statement around a bit to what it really says, namely that companies should free to behave as irresponsibly as they want, and they are finding a home among the selfishly deranged people in the South who vote equally deranged idiots like Rick Perry. For all his crowing about the Texas miracle, the Texas economy has a very dark side.  Furthermore, it's not quite as bad here in Germany as people portray it to be. For one thing the country has decent train service.

For another, it has a recycling program that works-and that is my point in writing this post today. Due to her job, the S.O. has to work at least one weekend a month. And on those days, my designated job is to take the recycling to the "Gomi" place as she calls it. ( Gomi is the Japanese word for garbage). In German the place is called Wertstoffhof. Every city has one. Its a place to go to put your plastic, cans, bottles that don't have deposits associated with them (known as a Pfand in German). On any given Saturday the place is a busy place. It has containers for all sorts of things: paper, cans, plastic, cartons, bottles, batteries, tires, even old furniture. And people are always bringing stuff to drop off.

Now at first glance one might think, why can't they just pick up at home like they do in Japan or the US? And the answer is that they do-but its more expensive. Every pick up of every thing in Germany from your home costs you money. Bringing it to the Wertstoffhof saves you money. In so doing the Germans have incentivized the right type of environmental behavior. And besides-it usually takes less than 5 minutes for me to get everything dropped off. 

It is something of a ritual now, and I don't really resent it.

Because it is the right thing to do-and America could learn something from those silly Europeans.

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Dec 31 2014

Sayonara 2014

And don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out.

As years go,  2014 was not really a good one for me. I won't be sorry to see it go. It started living under the burden of a poorly thought out merger at work, engineered by a psychopath- who, regrettably will probably try to resurrect the same stupid idea later on in 2015. It also started with a New Years trip to Lisbon that saw me get sick as a dog-not exactly what I had in mind when I checked into the Palace Hotel in Estoril. It was kind of a harbinger of things to come, now that I can look at it in hindsight.

Fortunately for me, in May, the horrible merger was undone when the powers that be finally recognized what a hideous thing they had done. However, enough damage had been done that it cast a pall over the rest of the year and made work, well not miserable, but not fun either.

On the personal front too it was a lousy year. I basically had to come to grips with the fact that my dream of getting back to Japan to live and work will never come to pass. And that's a painful thing to have to accept. I was able to spend 10 days in Tokyo in September, but all that really did was remind me how much I really miss living in Asia. But economic realities are realities and at my age finding a job over there that will support the level of income I need to maintain….just …..isn't ….going to happen. frown

Then again, I tell myself things could be worse, a lot worse. I am healthy, more or less, and I am not enduring the mind numbing, soul crushing existence of living in a suburb of an American city. And I got to travel enough this past year to cement my Platinum status and have me zero in on the million mile threshold this year. God willing I will get to travel as much as I did last year, this year.

The SO is, well she is the SO. She hasn't yet grasped that she needs to provide things I need and she has yet to realize she is not going to be able to change me, no matter how hard she tries. But she is working and making money now and she still keeps a clean house. So there is that. For a guy like me who needs physical passion and lots of sex in his life, however, that's not quite doing it. So that is yet more thing I have to come to grips with.

But as I said, things could be worse and for that I will remain always thankful. I can pay my bills and credit cards still enable most of the things I want, so I prefer then, to end the year on an optimistic note.

Here is to hoping the New Year is a better year. For all of us.

Happy New Year.

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Let's see if we can cheer this little expat up, shall we?

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Dec 14 2014

Christmas Market

Published by under Die Deutsche Leben

It's been two weeks since I have been back-and I have been busy. Spent the first week of this month in Colorado Springs on yet a another working trip that will not be adequately rewarded.  Its like a stuck record-the morons just don't get it.

And this week-well the less said about it the better.

But we did get to go and visit the Stuttgart Christmas market which happens to be ranked as one of the best in Germany. ( I'm not so sure-but it is big).

So here are pictures for your viewing pleasure" (click to see properly)

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Stuttgart's claim to fame is that it has large decorations on top of each booth:

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And few others:

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The City Hall at night:

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Walking down the rows and rows of booths:

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And some close up shots of the decorations:

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Anybody need a hat?

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Oct 05 2014

Pumpkin Fest

Published by under Die Deutsche Leben

In Ludwigsburg, they are running a Pumpkin Fest. In German the word for Pumpkin is Kurbis(with an umlaut). It's held in the garden of the palace in Ludwigsburg. Probably most amazing-besides the Pumpkin Wine, Soup, and Pasta-and beer-is the Pumpkin Figures.

See for your self:

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And Elvis, had to stop by:

 

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And when you have to go-you have to go:

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The Earl of Locksley dropped by:

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And lets play dinosaurs!

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And the bees were out:

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Sep 22 2013

Wahlzeit

In English, election time-which was the headline of a special edition of Das Bild newspaper yesterday -which was delivered free to our house.

All indicators show that Merkel is on cruise control to a third term as the Kanzlerin ( Chancellor). However because one of her coalition partners lost badly-the Free Democrats, she will have to probably find a new partner-most likely the SPD. And you can bet they are going to want something for the deal.

Yesterday the S.O. and I went to the flea market in downtown Stuttgart. There were some rallies going on on Konigstrasse-and also the posters were all out in force.

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The poster says, "Go vote! On 22 September 2013".  It is from the SPD.

There were a few other posters out yesterday- I really found this one interesting:

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It is from the Alternative Party ( a small left party). The poster says : "Courage for [telling]truth. The Greeks are suffering. The Germans are paying. The banks are cashing in."

And of course our old friends the Pirate Party are still out in force:

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.This one says: " The great coalition of the survellance" "Mass surveillenace must be stopped. Safety laws must be checked."

It is a jab about cooperation with the NSA. By the way-if you look closely the camera is wearing a green Angela Merkel dress-with Angela Merkel pearls. Not so subtle imagery that she is quite on board with this program.

It will be interesting to see how quickly the posters come down tomorrow.

On a positive note-the circus came to town-to the next village over. The connection to the election? Probably none-but it has to be good for at least a couple of irony points.

 

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Sep 02 2013

Triberg

Published by under Die Deutsche Leben

A couple of weeks back the S.O. and I drove to the Black Forest and vistied Germany's highest waterfall in Triberg. Its a beautiful-if somewhat too touristy place.

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There are a variety of hiking trails that take you up the side of the falls-short and long. Problem is, on a sunny day, lots of people are walking on them.:

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Once you get to the top of the trail its a nice view back into town:

 

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Coming back into the town there are some nice things to see as well:

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And the town has some good places to eat. But it was still too touristy for my taste:

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But worth the visit.

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Aug 22 2013

And the election kicks into full swing.

Published by under Die Deutsche Leben

I am seeing more and more posters on the roads these days-from more than just the usual suspects:

Of course our friends, the Pirate Party are still out in force:

 

It translates to: "Imagine you were asked. For more participation and particulars of the citizens in political decisions"

And the SPD-in trouble in the polls- are out there also:

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" For an old age without poverty".

And let's not forget the Greens:

It says, " What the farmer does not know, I am not eating. And you?" They have lots of these "Und Du" ads.

Like this:

"Guilt is always the others"-a slam on Merkel.

And finally Die Linke-the left:

"Enough babble! 10 euro minimum wage now!"

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Aug 06 2013

Election season is here!

Published by under Die Deutsche Leben

It's August and Germany is having parliamentary elections this year. The election to the 18th German Bundestag will be held on 22 September 2013. As a result the campaign posters started cropping up on the lamp posts this past week. Angela Merkel, so called "Queen of Europe" is up for re-election.  Merkel's party is the CDU ( Christian Democratic Union). Their slogan is simple:

It means "Together Success for Germany".

The opposition party-the SPD ( Social Democrats) are putting their attack on Merkel:

The poster mocks Merkel's cabinet. "Merkel's Compentence Team?"  The slogan of SPD is "This we decide-Now we can vote for change". (Das wir entscheidet. Jetzt den Wechsel wahlen). Its not quite as good as their shark poster from 2009.

The best posters are those from the Pirate Party. Yes, Virginia, there is a Pirate Party in Germany. Arrgh!  Formed in 2006 it originally was a protest effort centered on free access to internet and data-but it actually won enough seats in 2009 that it had to think about broader issues.

The poster translates into : "Ask your children why you should vote Pirate. Vote Pirate".

On the plus side-at least the Germans don't drag it out for 2 years like we do. 6 Weeks and get it over with.

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May 18 2013

A rare sunny day

Two weeks ago the sun actually saw fit to make an appearance here. The S.O. and I decided to take advantage of it and go walking through the woods behind our house and to the nearby town of Waldenbuch. Who, unbeknown to us, was having the festival celebrating their 650th birthday.

Here are some pictures I took along the way:

 

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The pasture is quite open right behind our house-then it feeds into the woods:

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After about 3km of walking you come out into the town of Waldenbuch

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And it was festival time:

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And they had the old cars out on display:

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This is an interesting and small BMW:

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An Early 60's Opel:

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After a few bratwursts, a few beers and some ice cream-it was time to head back into the woods and home:

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Apr 14 2013

More Madrid

Published by under Die Deutsche Leben,Travel

The S.O. dragged me 447km round trip yesterday to buy a cast iron dutch oven.  Don't even ask how much it cost.

On the plus side she seems to have re-learned the idea of gratitude sex-for now. We will see how long it lasts.

In the mean time here are some more Spain pictures. Click on them to see properly and in a larger view.

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This was the old castle the Hapsburgs used in the 15 and 1600 hundreds. Easily accessible by bus from Madrid-that's what we took. It is known as El Escorial.

More pictures below:

 

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It had a beautiful Basilica inside-but of course, no pictures were allowed.

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Some pictures from the gardens:

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One of the things that surprised me about Madrid was the geography-it was much more hilly than I expected. I guess I had envisioned it as flat.

5 responses so far

Apr 03 2013

Viva Madrid

Published by under Die Deutsche Leben,Travel

I kind of think I now understand why Hemingway liked Spain. It is France without the stuck up attitudes of the French.

Regardless-I really enjoyed my trip to Madrid. Surprisingly, the city was very clean, the subways worked much better than those here in Stuttgart, and the wine and food were simply marvelous. The down side of course being, that to eat the food, you had to wait till 8:30 PM or later. I was fine with that-the S.O., not so much. Rather than adapt, she thought she could bend the city to her will. As a result I got to be witness to a few episodes of "the ugly Nihonjin". Suffice it to say, it wasn't pretty and I wanted to go hide in a corner. But, of course, I couldn't do that-I had to pay the bill.

Nonetheless the architecture in the city is marvelous. Below you can see some examples of it. In many ways the city looks like Paris-and why not? considering the lineage of the King is from France. ( Yes its true. The Hapsburgs lost the toss and France has influenced Spain ever since. If they could not win by invading-as Napoleon found out-they just influenced the monarchy. ( click on all the pictures to see them as they should be)

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Taken in front of the Teatro Real.

And of course there is the Royal Palace:

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Let's not forget the parks:

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And the music in the parks:

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How a Mariachi Band ends up in a Madrid Park is beyond me. But they had a cute looking lady singer:

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More to follow in three subsequent posts.

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Mar 27 2013

Taking matters into my own hands

Published by under Die Deutsche Leben,Travel

Those frequent flier miles are not going to earn themselves you know.

And since my erstwhile employer is not cooperating by providing me with the kind of travel I both need and should have as a job perk-I guess I will have to do it myself. So its on a plane today to the heart of Spain. I really don't have the money to do this right now-and the timing is not the best. But its March 27th, there is still snow on the ground and people are watching Charles Krauthammer be stupid.  ( I realize using the name Krauthammer and "stupid" in the same sentence is repetitive-but its a great example of how really deluded a certain segment of the American population is.)

So I need a break.

Pictures to follow if I can my laptop to work right.

Hasta la vista baby!

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Jan 13 2013

Nude up!

Published by under Die Deutsche Leben

That is what the JO's of the "aft tool shed"-the not so affectionate name for the frame 154 eight man bunk room on America used to say when they wanted to get rid of us Department Heads who went there to hide out from the terror in the ready room.

They would say, "nude up" and just  start stripping. That got anyone not actually living there out in a hurry.

Today, the S.O. and I went to the Therme Mineral Bad near our village. Its  a pretty nice deal-albeit a little pricey. It is kind of like a Japanese onsen-without the same customs as a Japanese onsen.

You arrive and pay your fee. For the two of us it was 21 Euro which paid for 2.5 hours in the indoor and outdoor pool ( both are heated), access to the whirlpool baths, and access to the saunas. More on those later.

You go into a row of changing rooms. Using the arm band they give you-you can open up an empty locker and put your stuff in there once you have changed. They have individual stalls for changing-but they are not broken out by sex. So men and women are "suiting up" into their swimsuits in the same room. ( But you have privacy in the changing stall). once in your suit-you exit the stall and go down the row and find a locker. You put your stuff in the locker-use the arm band to lock it-its pretty cool how it works-and then head on out into the indoor pool area.

We went in the indoor pool-then slid on out in the water via "doggy door" of sorts to the outdoor pool. Given that it was 30 degrees out and snowy-any excursion out side the water ( such as getting out to go to the outdoor whirlpool bath) was "invigorating" to say the least. After trying all the whirlpools and sliding back into the outdoor pool after a couple of quick stints through the snow, we returned to the indoor pool. 

After another 20 minutes of so-we worked up our courage and went down to the sauna.

Its actually a series of saunas, set to different temperatures and humidities. However the thing is-that down in the sauna area- the swimsuit comes off. And the changing room where you remove said suit is a mixed gender room. So imagine my surprise to walk in and see a 20 something girl pulling off her top to show me a rather exquisite set of breasts. ( At least they looked that way in the 2 seconds I saw them before turning my head away in order not to be assigned the nickname, gazer.) To say that this threw the S.O. for something of a loop is an understatement. She held back in the entry way-still in her suit-while I wrapped the towel round me and did a recce run to confirm that, yes Virginia, there really are naked women sitting next to naked men in the saunas. So I came back and explained the layout to her-and said that if she was uncomfortable with it, we could go back up to the pool and skip the sauna. Trouble was, she really wanted to get warm in the sauna, so she finally shed her Japanese reticence and disrobed from her suit. ( Personally, I think she makes an eye catching sight when she is naked-and recently opportunities to see her so have been nearly not enough, so I was more than happy she decided in the affirmative. I may be biased, but she still looks great for a woman in her mid 50's. :P  )

So wrapped in our bath towels off we go to the Finnish sauna. Where I had expected to just sit wrapped in a towel-but quickly discovered that people remove said towel to cover the wood seats, leaving one to "hang out" so to speak.

With a moments hesitation, off came her towel and like an beautifully carved statue of Venus, there she sat in her naked glory. Since I was very conscious of not wanting to be branded as some kind of pervert, I quickly learned to keep my eyes averted, looking up ever so quickly and then back down to the floor-or over at the S.O. Who was sitting with her legs crossed.

So we then did the circuit,  moving from the 70 degree C sauna up to the Roman Steam bath. ( Which is at 95 degrees and was one I could only stand for a short while-I am not a fan of steam baths finding it hard to breath in them.. Interestingly enough-they had a nice little bar down here-where one could sit in one's bath robe and / or towel and get a beer. ( For the next time-we are bringing bath robes, as many people did).

The S.O. was uncomfortable a bit-but she wanted to "try it all".  Wonder if I could get her to try that attitude with other things in life.

ANYWAY.

After getting nicely warmed-we showered. These had separate stalls-but it was still like a middle aged version of the shower scene from "Starship Troopers". Back to the changing room-suit up and back up to the pool.

We made the circuit once more time-ending up in the indoor whirlpool. After which we decided to get dressed and head home for beer and dinner. The S.O. was actually quite happy with the experience, even the sauna part-and it was kind of nice to be able to sit with her. In a Japanese onsen, she would have been with just the girls and I with the men. Which would have meant no conversation while sitting there soaking up the heat.

Evidently the Germans are more used to this modus operandi. As we were standing in the entrance-a woman asked us if we needed help. We explained our confusion-and she explained how it all worked. Which was what led to my confirmatory recce run.

It was a good way to spend a cold and snowy afternoon. And I got the "Peter Sellers" check in the block

In the car on the way home-the S.O. said something about "having seen more penis's in two hours at the Mineral Bad than she had seen in her entire life". ( We were talking about the sauna). I couldn't resist a response.

"Clearly you needed to get out more."

4 responses so far

Apr 28 2012

Taking a little detour.

And I'm back. Have been back for a couple of days-but tomorrow I am off again. Just time enough to do laundry. This time the travel is within Germany and I will be out of pocket for a couple of weeks.

I do plan to post some though-and I intend to use those opportunities to write about relationships. For two reasons really: one, its on my mind right now-as I read a book called The Happiness Project and two, I want an excuse to write some explicitly erotic prose. If you are prudish-or that is not your cup of tea, well, you can consider yourself fairly warned.

 

someecards.com - Women say that size doesn't matter but I have yet to meet a woman that owns a 3 inch crooked vibrator.

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Mar 06 2012

Sad day…..

Published by under Die Deutsche Leben

I sold the science project today. To "Sergey" -who while a holder of a German passport, is more Russian than German me thinks. I couldn't help but think of the scene from the Italian Job.

 

Seriously, I felt some genuine sadness driving the car up to the Zollamt to get the tax paperwork done-so that all the legal proprieties could be observed. He had given me a good price-considering the fact the car needs a new gas tank and serious(and I do mean serious) suspension and wheel bearing work. But the engine started up right away and it drove me smoothly to get the deed done.

Well sort of-as I drove through the Zollamt parking lot-I could hear the whining of the wheels as I turned them-probably only a matter of time before a control rod snapped right off.

But the car had actually been a real trooper-all things considered. It had always started and ran-and got me to and from work even when the snow was heavy. But there was also no way it was going to make it through inspection-without more time and effort and most importantly, money, than I could expend.

So I felt like a pet owner who is taking his old, sick, dog up to the vet for that final ride-that depth of sadness was upon me. Like the sick old dog-the car was on its last legs, but still it was faithful. I wish I had the skills, the garage space, and the time and the money to undertake restoring it-these 750's were actually beautiful cars once.

But as Mr. Eastwood said, " A man has to know his limitations".  This effort was not in my job jar. So I am assuming the car or its parts will end up somewhere on the Steppes…….

But once it probably looked like this:

 

Disclaimer note:    

I really should not wax so nostaligic about the car-the 750 series had one of the worst records for a luxury car and for BMW.  The cars have a very bad reputation and are a blot on the BMW record. They require way too much maintenance and are very hard to maintain. 

The BMW 750iL is like a woman in so many respects, she loves attention, she never tells you exactly what's bothering her (she makes you guess instead), she is always willing to spend your money, but when you give her what she needs, she can make you a VERY happy man. This car is an elite car for an elite few; it isn't anybody that can own a car like this. It is a car for the car enthusiast, financially, it's like owning a Lamborghini if you are not a car guy who loves to work on his own car. Labor is intensive and parts aren't cheap. I am a car fanatic, I love driving, I love cleaning, and I love wrenching. I have a 1989 750iL, I work on it (for fun, not because I have to) every weekend, these cars need to be paid attention to, their not always easy to figure out, and the investment you make has to be more than financial. Take some time to learn how some of its systems work, the Bentley manual is awesome. Taking this car to a mechanic other than one who either loves this car or is a perfectionist would be like expecting another man to put up with your wife while you enjoy the benefits. It sounds great, but rarely works out in real life. These are truly wonderful cars if you have the love, time, and patience.

I love women like women. Cars not so much. Yet, I hope it finds a good home somewhere. Rest well-trusty steed!

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