I'd almost forgotten! But they never let you forget: Saturday, a piece of junk mail came with the magic letters SSV on it: Sommer Schlussverkauf. It's the companion to WSV (which is obviously Winterschlussverkauf), and is one of the two times a year that retailers are allowed to discount stuff deeply, to sell it off before the next season's stuff arrives.
It's not limited to Germany, as any fashionista worth her Prada will tell you, because lots of people travel to Paris (particularly in the winter) for "les soldes," which means "the sales," and is the same thing.
We'll certainly be getting the warnings now in the paper about the fly-by-nights who set up shops selling badly-made stuff and palming it off as a SSV store of some sort, except they disappear after a couple of weeks. There's already one opened up on Invalidenstr. in one of those shops that can't seem to hold a tenant, selling underwear. The poorly-inked price tags in the window are a dead giveaway.
I've never understood why the government feels it has to mandate this period, but then I've never understood German retail very well. There's supposed to be an actual economic theory behind the fact that all of the department stores in this country and Germany's top mail-order catalog (Otto) are all owned by the same company. My supermarket is owned by Metro, the company that wholesales to restaurants, although friends who owned a restaurant near me tell me milk's cheaper in the supermarket. It all results in a rather drab uniformity of the marketplace.
Not that I have a lot of huge disposable income at the moment, though. And oddly, the downturns in my income always seem to coincide with SSV and WSV, so I can't tell you if they're worth paying attention to.
Global climate change (or GLOCCH, as my friend Ray insists on calling it), though, I do pay attention to that. And we're in for another cold summer. Current forecast says between now and Friday it's not going to get much above 65 F, and there's a lot of rain in that forecast. A few weeks ago, I was kicking myself for not planting basil this summer, remembering the summer when I did plant it and found myself referring to the planters on the windowsill as Vietnam. But I did it last year and it sprouted a couple of inches high, then the cold rainy weather came and the plants dug deep roots. After that, they didn't grow any more leaves and the stems turned brown and they were dead by September.
This all has to do, I understand, with the Gulf Stream, and is why saying "global climate change" is more accurate than saying "global warming." Some places will get colder. And I just happen to be living in one.
But I discovered this afternoon that if you let the sun hit you, it's a pretty warm feeling. I'm just getting tired of only having three weeks a year of summer.
Just when you don't think they could get any worse, Telekom gets worse! I woke up this morning and found I couldn't connect with my DSL line. A friend called Telekom (I get so nervous having to talk German on the phone, especially with a company that doesn't have any English-speaking employees in customer service -- no Turks, either -- and only wants to get you off the phone), and they reported it was fine. Amazingly, they said they'd have an English-speaking tech call me, so I waited four and a half hours and nobody called. Very nervous about what was in my e-mail, I went off to the internet cafe down the street and checked. Nothing. Back 30 minutes later, I found -- of course! -- a message from the Telekom tech saying there was nothing wrong with my line.
And, as it turned out, there wasn't. I suddenly remembered there was a fellow American with some tech expertise and a Mac just up the hill, so I called him and he reminded me that DSL modems sometimes have to be reset, which I'd read somewhere but though was only for cable modems. You just turn them off, turn them back on, wait 15 minutes or so, and try again. (You also have to restart your computer, which he neglected to tell me, probably because he thought it was obvious). Thanks, Aaron!
What I want to know is why nobody at Deutsche Telekom could be bothered to ask if I'd tried this.
But then, they just want to get you off the phone.