Monday, 29 December 2008

coke social

It’s entertaining sometimes to skim over the shipwrecks of social networking sites—Web 2.0, and find abandoned or severely neglected homepages, blogs and photography collections. I’d like to think most of these things, like my inactive mySpace presence, littered with unread posts, die these quiet deaths because they’ve served their purpose or have been made obsolete. I hope people give up because they’ve found their perfect match and aren’t much interested in braving the wilds of the Internet dating-scene anymore. Those posts and comments do keep coming in periodically, unread but loyally broadcast for holidays and birthdays by a small tribe of true-believers (those hold-outs for landing the dream job or landing the right person by the merits of their profiles), which seems like sad, vindictive graffiti peppered on some forgotten monument to a forgotten cause or decorating a dozing relative with Christmas garland.

Saturday, 27 December 2008

Linus & Lucy

Though I missed seeing any of the usual Christmas specials this year, my mother showed H and I a mash-up clip of the excellent Merry Christmas Charlie Brown. I love that little show--the Peanuts are like psychoanalysis in classic comic format, and whenever I hear Linus explaining the meanining of Christmas--I think that's the only incident one can still find that makes mention of Jesus--it just kills me. I think I can dredge for all those special memories on the Internet, though. Instantly, after seeing this and thinking about the original, a non-sequitur memory swept over me, which at the time I didn't deem appropriate to share. For starters, it was my secret deciding factor to attend the university that I did. I might have gone to Harvard, if I really applied myself during my senior year, or to a good school in state, through I shudder to imagine how that would have screwed with H's and my space-time continuum. When I visited as a prospective student, there was a big party in the dorms (as per usual) and as I took in the view from the head of the hallway, the guys and girls were dancing just like on Charlie Brown, breezy and doing their own things, not caring how they looked.

Wednesday, 24 December 2008

miscellany

Long before Wikipedia, textbooks, almanacs, wherein the most miniscule trivia can be tracked down in a more or less systematic manner, ancient Chinese scholars essayed the whole of scientific knowledge, arranging articles in a sort of science-dictionary format. Entries were set by order of importance, which seems rather subjective to my modern ears, but I suppose an alchemist would find a logical order to things, know to look up the Sun before Moon and Wind before Fire. It's sort of like reporting the news--in the order of importance with sports, weather, and celebrity gossip tacked on the end. Wikipedia is sometimes criticized for being a catch-all, having no sieve and mirroring fan-sights--that there is a longer entry for the Klingon language or Rankin & Bass Christmas specials than for Samuel Pepys. Personally, I like that about Wikipedia, since I feel above wading through fan-sites and nerdy anthologies to find such things and am pleased when I can come across such things at random and within the same gallery as serious, academic matters. It might be more didactic to wade through the whole compendium of human knowledge to get at the minutia, but the ability to become a subject matter expert on The Golden Girls or Kim Fields, and bypassing physics, rhetoric, geomancy and the Illiad, is certainly a remarkable thing, as well. Incidentally, the number one entry in the Chinese science-dictionaries was for the Dragon.

Friday, 19 December 2008

prodigal

I just returned from a quick and unplanned trip to the States, to attend my grandmother's funeral. I would have much like to have visited her a week prior, rather than waiting after all these years to see her in her grave. It was a sad occasion, but a condoling excuse for a family reunion, seeing aunts, uncles, cousins and associates that I had not seen in years--my own sister included. It was strange coming home, slightly unrecognizible and peering at things from a porthole of the Wayback machine. I was told my grandmother was very proud of me, and she certainly talked about me, which lent this odd weight of self-consciousness to meeting distant, long-lost relatives. Fancy. Here was the famous European cousin, returned, and a writer, too--she had said. I wouldn't want to let her down. Granny was fancy too.

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Amnesiac

Whenever I'm confined, grounded at home sick, like I am today, I'm reminded how pathetic and puny it's possible to feel. I've noticed I have no memory for pain, that the slightest winding-down that comes with a regular, unremarkable cold can cause the most expanded fears and debilitating discomforts, just like the occasional lapses I have concerning lack of sleep and skipping meals that makes me wonder too. I always feel a little bit guilty over truancy and for not being optimal. Rather, I suppose I'd like to be present and accounted-for but grumpy and sub-prime. There's always a bit of time for refletion during the day, something that I forget about as well whenever I make the decision to remain at home, whenever I don't feel proded to push the necessary thing to the end of the day, after work, or dredge them up for first thing in the morning. There's time to re-visit head-colds past and the inactivity that goes on in my little village when everyone has stolen away to work. The same is applies when it comes to recovery, and I have a hard time gauging how good I ought to feel--whether it's a lingering illness or the evanessence of a passing hang-over. I except to feel better than I did before I got sick.

Saturday, 6 December 2008

Schmuck

A popular Christmas decoration motif in Germany seems to be of the rag-doll Saint Nikolaus scaling a ladder, dangling from the eaves of a building. I don't like this particular ornament so much because of its patent theological falseness: Santa does not need to break into one's home with a rope ladder, like a common criminal, since he has that magical sleigh and eight flying reindeer. And although, Saint Nikolaus visits, ostensibly with stocking-stufffers and minor gifts, a bit early here--though I think the major archana of celebrations and big presents are reserved for the three days of Christmas--Germany doesn't differ much from the true tradition. Not like France, for instance, whose children are filled with the heresy that Christmas chocolates are flown in by the bells of St. Peter's, hence the phrase, "And the bells have flown to Rome."

Thursday, 4 December 2008

sentiment

I have noticed since modernizing their logo, AT&T smacks of the Death Star in Star Wars. I wonder if when big corporate entities become the embodiments of evil, faceless and with an uncomfortable reach, that that is when something unreal called market-sentiment can really take rule. Big businesses have done a bang-up job of arousing suspicion and distrust, and naturally that's why governments see fit for this orgy of money-tossing. Though everyone is jagged for their slice of bailout-pie, it's these etheral corporations, who deal in invisible forces like banks, quasi-financial institutions like credit card companies, and any of the other concerns that bought into easy credit that are queued up for their share. Maybe it's because of this unreal, intangible aspect that such corporations are more prone to market hysteria. And though that has never before been charge for protectionism, except during times of overblown nationism and prejudice, the bundle of ventures that is the United States of America need to be safe-guarded from the whims of mood and sentiment first and foremost. Though auto-manufacturers and the like may have been sullied in the whole ordeal, what's called fundamental--that is, making things, should not be facing such a peril.

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Snow Day

The weather has been drizzly and miserable (umbrellas, fo'drizzle--I saw that on a t-shirt once) and we've had some snow, but it's that shitty kind of snow, the sort that Jewish kids would get for Christmas, the spotty, sloppy and wet snow that makes for stress in traffic with the commuters reacting as if it's first time it has snowed north of the Alps. And maybe that it singles a time to call in favours, like a snowball's chance in Hell... I want blustering, orchestral snow-storms, the sort that bring about an amber or a red level to the road-conditions. The Army are wimps, sot of, in that regard, closing down operations for a blizzard that I am sure any German who is beyond his seasonal-driving amnesia would shrug off, but at least it's color-coded, like Threatcom and the Terror-Threat. We'd all have a jolly old snow day, like the kind that they used to grant for schools. As I recall, though, I always managed to get myself in trouble on snow days.

Monday, 1 December 2008

In Former East Germany, the Government works for You

After a traditional Thanksgiving dinner with my parents at the military dining facility (mess hall) and driving to H's hometown in the East, H made the glib comment that we could now visit all of our parents every weekend. Quite... We had a great time throughout, and though it was not my first trip, H wanted to know my impressions of the place--what thoughts would he have on seeing the Indian reservation where I was born. "Oh--that was my teepee," maybe accounting for why I had moved a grand 33 times--to follow the buffalo and not because my parents were on the lam for a coupon-counterfeiting scheme or some such thing. I'm bedazzled by everything, frankly. Here was the shell of a cathedral being rebuilt after it was dismantled, piecemeal, in 1968 and here an ersatz ruin erected in the 19th century by a masonic grand-master.

Monday, 24 November 2008

festoonery



As I lay in bed, anticipating the jiggly alarm, I was hoping for a snow day. This time of year comes with quite a bit of baggage--subconscious associations. There is the weather, for starters. I am not sure what's bigger in the end than weather. Climate and climate change, maybe... And then there's the holiday crunch, and despite the possibility of bleaker presents and slimmer prospects, absolutely no force of economic nastiness and institutional props can cut back on the audacious displays that is Christmas. Spirits might be temporarily dampened and a lot of things may happen that run a bit counter to the spirit of the season, but the gaudy decorations aren't stopped, though there be a procession creeping earlier and earlier, neither is A Charlie Brown Christmas, the Weihnachtsmarkt, nor Dinner for One. It's an extravaganza. So, and a bit early this year, merry Christmas you wonderful old Building & Loan!

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

gold bug

Over the weekend, H and I visited the rather remote and unsung ruins of castle. The site was pretty impressive and a grand castle like that in this area must have surely been a site to see. I misread or rather didn't fully comprehend the information board by the entrance, and announced that the castle was destroyed during the War. After asking what war and my answer of World War II, H read the board and told me that that because an American army officer was killed in the surrounding village, friends suggested that

the castle be strafed as part of a larger bombing operation on a nearby city. Behind ambiguous thoughts on the tragedy of that, I was convinced that this was a secret Nazi headquarters and there must have been a hidden gold repository housed there. Treaures. In addition to my occasional forays with my metal detector, I get inspired fairly regularly by either shiny things or stories about treasure hunting. In fact, after viewing National Treaure on TV, I continued my superficial and biased research into the fate of the Knights Templar and their supposed booty. I told H we might find a clue over New Year's holiday when we go to celebrate in Berlin. Where? I thought it was rather obvious--in Tempelhof (I think the Wikipedia article might lend me some credence), of course. A building that large had to be dual-purpose.

Sunday, 16 November 2008

Mister S goes to the Fishmongers'


I appreciate the days when I'm home at the right times to keep things local-going, when I can go to the tiny market in my tiny village, walk about to the sort-yard for recycling and the flower shop to look and using the village bookie to play the lottery. It's charming and like something out of a children's story: Mister S goes to the Bakery to buy some buns for breakfast--"My what a fine and varied selection of breads you have today. Good day to you, as well, Frau Blooker." I forget how nice and simple that can be, from time to time.

Thursday, 13 November 2008

air kisses


During the day, I tend to stow my Handy in my front pants' pocket--perhaps an unwise and an unfortuneate spot. It vibrates before it rings, though I miss quite a few calls while I'm on the march and there's a hint of ambient noise. I think I'd require a squad of cheerleaders to alert me sometimes to an incoming-call. I've noticed, however, that I occasionally get phantom vibrations, a twitch, along my thigh, and I'll bat my leg until I'm satisfied that there's no one on the other end. It's sort of like the sensations from a phantom limb, these galvanizing disturbances. I wonder if they are electromagnetically-influenced muscle spasms or anticipating to hear from someone. Why aren't phantom sensations ever very nice ones? Not a phoney feeling of an arm that's no longer at my disposal or a missed call, but rather a ghostly brush from H's lips?

Monday, 10 November 2008

reptile farm

Either staying close to home or ranging far and wide, it seems that most weekends were spent exploring and sometimes discovering jewels of castles, churches and ruins. I felt like I had not done that, relaxing and rambling down a tiny road, getting lost, for quite some time, but H and I spent a shortening day doing just that. We hadn't sought out any special sites since we were considering renting this storied-joint but decided against it,after piquing the count's interest, for practical reasons. Also, I could imagine the peasants revolting and coming after us with pitchforks. There is a lot out there to be discovered--heresay is gainsay over a navigation system, which seems to take the fun out of getting lost.

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

This is not a Pipe


The superlative directory of wonderful things BoingBoing posted a bit of dadaism in signage last week for this bilingual road sign in Wales. I spotted this similar ad absurdia meme by the fleet garage at work. I wonder what sort of delivery system they have in place for slapping up these signs. It's sort of like dodgy, cheap underwear inspected by Inspector #52.

Monday, 3 November 2008

a very merry un-birthday from me to you


For sometime, I have been kind of reticent mentioning my birthday to colleagues and such because I in part feel that I've had quite enough of them as it is. A bit of a party among friends is something altogether different, though. I think, however, that the bigger reason I try not to call attention to my getting older is because it's a time for personal evaluation--but the sort of personal polite that is also acceptable at the office New Year's Eve party. I've cringed always on being questioned about my resolutions, so much so that I'd like to avoid the situation altogether. It's a bit of Schadenfreude, not of being perfect--not even necessarily content, but decidedly happy. It's like the raging drunk loudly declaring his resolve to have more fun as the rest of the gathering quietly toasts the passing year. And never brought to mind... I want to be smarter about things, generally, and dedicate more time to studies and being creative, but I am fully succumbing to the travel-bug, I like my job and I'm hopelessly in love.

Friday, 31 October 2008

All Hallows' Eve


Halloween causes reflection of the nature of terror, the nature of fear--though they all this ghoulish mimicry is to either appease or confuse what terrorizes us. Considering all the different lenses on what's scary, I doubt anyone wants to emulate the frightening things out there. It's time to play the Pyramid: stubborn stains, having a wash that's not whiter than white, not having the appropriate tool for DiY projects, not having superior supplemental homeowners' insurance, not having the perfect partner, paying too much for anything whatsoever, not having a perfectly-toned body, hay-fever and seasonal allergies, dated ringtones and Handys and PCs! Oh my! And guess what? That's just European tv. Apparently my mother purchased a giant plasma televison to experience larger-than-life pharmaceutical passion-plays in the States. Instead maybe we dress up like those consumers we see in the commercials everyday to appeal or confuse.

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Asimov



Sometimes, while trowling the internet, humans encounter a succinct test such as this, which can once and for all establish the end-user as a sentient being. It's an odd sort of Turring-test that can prove that the gentle-surfer at the other end is not some malicious bug or a diabolical Evil-Genius. I wonder if such a lithmus test will endure into the future. Could humans devise such an ingenious test that a robot would never be able to pass? Text not recognized--malfunction, malfunction! Would it become standard to be asked to validate one's humanity when making any transaction? Discobear575--there, that shows I am legitimate.

Sunday, 26 October 2008

The Maverick and the Soccer Mom


It's passing for excitement nowadays--maybe a bit of distraction from the implosion of the rest of the world. McCain and Palin are still tight like prom night, never mind that she might be the very co-efficient of drag on the entire campaign (hmmm...drag, I ought to be Sarah Palin for Halloween--I can't imagine anything scarier). I have no sorrow for the destruction of the Republican ticket--I think they're perfectly-matched, sort of like Caligula and the horse he appointed senator--but rather the way it dulls the entire discussion and maybe exaggerates differences that are not really there. Here's what we know: Obama is a Marxist, a befriender of terrorists, and a totally not esentially different person from John McCain. It is maddening.

Now McCain is playing dismissive with calls that his thrust is falling short and ignoring polls that show him slipping further and further behind. Maybe--Pepsi Choice sponsored by PepsiCo is an invitation to a little white lie: some responders may be too embarrassed to admit to a pollster that they want to vote for the ticket with the only candidate with executive office experience, but will do so in the privacy of the voting-booth, or to tell a stranger that they won't vote for a black man.

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

copyFight


It seems there was a fleeting golden age for the stuff of reference, nostalgia and inside-jokes, and albeit, it was a virtual one, ready resources for a quick study and appending an effortless and expansive footnote to anything. Throttling battles over intellectual property and old claims laid to old monpolies and video-vaults have put an end to that, however. The one great wealths of clips and music have been diminished, certainly, and video form is sometimes a poor substitute for original sources seen in their original context. It's scary to think that coming generations may never hear of a Charlie-in-a-Box, Snaggletooth's laugh or a puppet called Madame, except maybe as contemporary allusions that are only intended for members of the mature audience, because of niggling copywrite laws. I was once going to explain to H that my father regarded my mother as Fred and Barney did the Great Gazoo, batting away an invisible gremlin, but it is really hard to explain without a few visual cues.

Monday, 20 October 2008

Erin Go Braugh



H and I have just returned from another adventure--this time in the south-western corner of Ireland. We had a great time, rumbling through this beautiful countryside. We were sold on some little villages spewing torrents of hot folk music into the crisp sea air, but learnt that many things are not on offer "off-season." No matter--we still had a great time and, as I told H, surely someone would write a folk song lauding his fearless driving skills and incredible brillance as "a sheep-dodger." I went on to narrate a lot of our activities in Irish folk song form, mostly to the tune of "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald." We had great fun--craic is the word for it, I learned, pronounced crack, and a very positive-proof for the adages about budget airlines and surprising landscapes, all that's out there to discover.

Saturday, 11 October 2008

Do not google this

HP Lovecraft once wrote, "The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents... some day the piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the light into the peace and safety of a new Dark Age." Maybe we are becoming too inter-connected, too smart for our own safety, peeking at the whole tawdry, moth-biten tapestry.

Rank Hypocrisy




Too bad she's a Replicant--and doesn't even realize it herself... An independent panel apparently found the then governor guilty of abuse of power for pressing the dismissal of a family member appointed to a state office. When voted into the state stewardship, she was vetted with this perogative, since the participants in this family-drama, nepotism, were elevated and brought down by a whim. Abuse of power sounds like a heady accusation but it won't stick. It's rank hypocrisy when one does or is given a pass simply because one can do it. Unfortuneately, one can't level classiness or good sense against someone and it's left to the realm of public-opinion, which sometimes is translated to democracy, American-style. Voters usually get what they ask for and what they deserve.

Thursday, 9 October 2008

A Zinfandel might go well with that Red Herring

One could say that I am know for non-sequitir thinking, for not leaping to the most logical conclusions, perhaps a very feeble short-term memory, as well. Before the oncet of a cold, like now, I will sometimes drink red beet juice to stave it away. I'll gulp down a whole container and inevitably during the short pause spanning the time it took to take the last sip and the jaunt to the toliet, I will forget that I had made a concerted effort to finish a half litre of not exactly vile nor particularly delicious liquid. I'll start to leave water, and break into a momentary but viseral panic when I see that it is full-on bright pink and a dozen medical traumas flood through my head. I think the public have gulped down a similar tale with the market corrections and the global financial meltdown. So Iceland is basically bankrupt and this has all the markings of an old fashion run on the bank. If what is happening (exactly what is what is a little tricky to define) is anything more than a market correction, the reigning in of unrealistic and uncreative ambitions, then throwing all the money in the world won't solve it. Precious capitalism can't be rescued through nationalizing businesses and institutions. Credit can't be persuaded to become more cooperative, looser, by ticks of governmental manipulation. No actionable course really addresses any of the root causes, and only serves to undermine the value of real assets. Intelligent and selective amnesties need to be extended while things are allowed to collapse and stagnate, and creativity rewarded over greed and keeping up appearances.

Thursday, 2 October 2008

transmigration

I understand that you should not touch or move a person during an out-of-body experience, otherwise he might never find his way back to his body from the astral-plane, sort of like disturbing a sleep-walker but seemingly much more traumatic. I have been helping re-arrange offices these past few days and it seems that company computers have the same temperment. Network printers seem especially prone to getting lost and displaced PCs grope for them like scratching phantom limbs. Not deigned to have special administrative-rights, I remain puzzled by this phenomenon--I suppose in the same way a non-initiated doctor would react to a suddenly catatonic patient with no mundane diagnosis. I suppose I ought to leave the heavy-lifting up to the professionals.

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Happy Fiscal New Year & the People's Democratic Republic of America

I wonder what prattling and pit-falls FY09 will bring. I think there might be a growing niche for financial action/horror, but the villians are no so much the faceless, caricatures that the audience expects but rather Everyman, our mirror-selves, which tend to be better grossing when portrayed as the working-class hero. No one wants to be reminded that the enemy is us, and no matter what diabolic manipulation, nationalizing, pandering, ploying and temptation are at work, no one else could be blamed for personal perchants like living off borrowed things and credit vying for time that yield personal financial crises. H ought to be a movie director. He comes up with some very clever ideas, and meanwhile, I will recommend something like an airplane that hijacks itself, or the story of the Manson Family in anime. Since the assassination attempt on Reagan, I told H, the US president has routinely used body-doubles for potentially dangerous public appearances. Unfortuneately for the United States of America, it's sometimes the doppelganger that gets the safeguarding and the authentic things gets sacrificed. A double was planted for the risky chore of reading "My Pet Goat"... Pretty far-fetched and not terribly horrifying but it might explain a lot.

Saturday, 27 September 2008

beautifish

Nearly turning the house upside down, last night I searched and searched for my old drivers' license (some things one ought to keep in one's wallet--if for nothing else but safe-keeping) because I was told I needed to present it when I came to make a statement for the military police. It's strange how these small, important things can go missing: in the past, I felt like the metaphysical princess and the pea, I could visualize such things settled forgotten in a specific drawer somewhere, and when I did go searching, I found them just as I pictured. Now, however, I am growing more dodgy, and I resorted to looking in desparate places, no place where it was likely to be. I raking through several drawers, over-turned vases and poked into old metal tins. I came across quite a few lost artefacts, but one metal decanter especially surprised me. Inside was a stale package of sunflower seeds and container of dry oatmeal. The wafting smell brought back the memory of my bunny called Bunny. A fantastic, accidental pet, she wasn't with me for long but did grow on me. A friend that I had gotten to know through work, a quite funny and accomplished manipulator, had gotten Bunny for her young daughter at one point a few years beforehand, however, hatched a simple plan to pawn Bunny off, due to her decision to purchase a small dog, suitable for carrying in one's purse, which should not cohabitate with Bunny, a feral animal, while this pedigreed dog was being house-trained. Without obtaining prior clearance, she arranged for her young daughter to be staying at a friend's house (the day before she was to get the small dog). She then asked me if I would like to adopt a rabbit, an idea I was initially resistant to, and persisted until I gave in. With her daughter gone, exactly as planned, I came to kidnap the rabbit--as she explained to her daughter in between her noticing her pet was missing and before the new small dog showed up. "Mr Johan is not a nice person." It was during the winter when I kidnapped Bunny, and I couldn't bear to leave in the empty hutch in the barn, in the cold, twice rejected and feeling like the Bunny no one wanted. So, I kept her in the living room, where she hopped about sedately and would poo on a newpaper in the corner (Bunny would have been a good role model for the small dog, which I am sure, dribbles in that purse, untutored). Bunny seemed to prefer sunflower seeds and oatmeal beyond all else I offered. Bunny was well-behaved and only gnawed on a cable once or twice. I didn't want a pet in the first place, because I am not home so often to care for one, but Bunny turned out to be low-maintainance. She seemed to have a short, happy life but found her dead without warning one morning. One selling-point the friend used on me was that rabbits don't live so long, but I was really devastated in the end. Needless to mention, the missing drivers' license, which is another long, convoluted and cautionary tale, was not in the tin with the oatmeal and the sunflower seeds.

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Bigger PeNi5 Guaranteed

To: johan@perfectforroquefortcheese.com

Subject: Not Spam -- Important Business Offer!!!

Dear American:
I need to ask you to support an urgent secret business relationship with a transfer of funds of great magnitude. I am Ministry of the Treasury of the Republic of America. My country has had crisis that has caused the need for large transfer of funds of 800 billion dollars U.S. If you would assist me in this transfer, it would be most profitable to you.
I am working with Mr. Phil Gramm, lobbyist for UBS, who will be my replacement as Ministry of the Treasury in January. As a Senator, you may know him as the leader of the American banking deregulation movement in the 1990s. This transaction is 100% safe.
This is a matter of great urgency. We need a blank check. We need the funds as quickly as possible. We cannot directly transfer these funds in the names of our close friends because we are constantly under surveillance. My family lawyer advised me that I should look for a reliable and trustworthy person who will act as a next of kin so the funds can be transferred.
Please reply with all of your bank account, IRA and college fund account numbers and those of your children and grandchildren to wallstreetbailout@treasury.gov so that we may transfer your commission for this transaction. After I receive that information, I will respond with detailed information about safeguards that will be used to protect the funds.
Yours Faithfully,
Minister of Treasury Paulson

Should you ever want to hide something, bury it in fine-print, just disguise it as spam. No one would give it a second glance.

Monday, 22 September 2008

Dumpster Driving

Over the past few days, I have been helping rearrange the offices on the fourth floor--the Penthouse. There was an embarrassment of musty, untouched papers to sort through, mostly long-retired records and false-starts at organization that were eventually folded. Quite a bit seemed to be folded projects, dox-matrix printer paper, bytes of data stored on 5 1/4" floppy disks that is irretrievable, and long-retired but sacrosanct archives. They say we are all immmortal, at least through our official signatures. It was interesting uncovering this palpimpsest, digging through archeologic tirades--that not much has changed in the interim. The lot of it, excepting the files I thought ought to be saved for the next junking expedition, was sorted and swept away. With this incidental garbage destined for the recycling bin, I wondered would future residents ever know that their busy work was nothing novel--that this or that scheme had been tried before, and it was just good job insurrance to forget. If everything in the government didn't change its name every few years, half the people in the government would not have anything to do. I tried to salvage a few choice information briefs that were eerie bits of presque vu. As I was toting the piles to their separate dumpsters, I remembered a rather depressing fact: the recycling process was much too materially intense to allow such mundane things as a plastic shopping bag be reborn as another shopping bag. Generally, plastic deterius was spun into fiber for cheap clothing and carpet, a steel chassis of an automobile paper-clips, and paper was pretty much only fit for mulching. Perhaps there was a security reason for these limitations of recycling. Office paper wasn't meant to be a slate for more of the same.

Friday, 19 September 2008

Nesting


Over the past week or so, the weather has taken a sharp turn brisker. People, especially at work since it seems to be socially acceptable common-currency (co-workers talk about stuff like the weather more when they feel compelled, I think, to wilt away from the latest buzz with politics and the economy) complain, and they complain as if the seasons are a brand new phenonmenon, instead of one of the oldest inevitabilities. Personally, I'm never quite prepared for it either and this summer left me asking, "Do we get another?" What surprises me, in addition to this collective amnesia, is how people don't seem to work up to the cold. Dressing in layers is important, but should happen gradually, like one of those nested Russian dolls in reverse. First one should begin with corduroy pants and a light jacket, making a gradual curve to scarves, hats and long underwear. The dreaded overcoat and chemical handwarmers are a last-resort and gauche before mid-January.

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Rain Dance

I spoke to my mother, living in Texas, to see how she was weathering the latest spate of hurricanes. She was fine, however, the several evacuees from Galveston she was providing shelter were not. They had lost everything in Hurricane Ike, the storm ramming a ferry over the canal and down the block where they lived. My mother, who was incidentally in the process of selling her home and preparing to move to Europe, said that tensions were high amongst the evacuees, a pair of whom are a gay couple, kept in limbo with FEMA (the US Federal Emergency Management Agency) responses, having lost all their worldly goods--including a fantastic little antique shop. My mother made the real estate agents angry by stopping all viewings of the house, but she didn't want these people to feel more displaced than they already were. If I felt like a refugee, I think I might like to be put on display, tell potential buyers I had squatters' rights or was at least part of the furniture. Amid all the chaos, one partner kept his focus rapt on the television, hoping to see some footage, a fly-over shot--any thing more telling than the stock-scenes replayed of the surf lapping over the floodwalls, which seem more like metaphors (cut to windswept drapes, rather than the steamy bedroom scene) than pictures of a devastated town, or fibrously water-logged beach houses. What coverage the hurricane damage did manage to garner, though, seemed like a great understatement, an uncharacteristic glossing over, and generally made him feel worse. Maybe it's the louder blaring of world stock markets in turmoil, the contest for the US presidential election (which was magnanimously already put on hold once for a natural disaster), or the fact it is happening to my mother's friends, which make it seem as if not enough is being done or at least being said about Ike and Galveston. Could FEMA possibly still betray some embarrassment? Are the pictures and personal losses too horrible to see, especially for a public not only fatigued by bombardments of disaster but also fatigued by facetious shows of unity? My mother believes that the weather is controlled by Dick Cheney. Maybe someone should tell the candidate this is what the vice-president does all day.

Friday, 12 September 2008

Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition


I said to H yesterday, "You know, they did catch some actual witches during those trials." I meditated quite a bit over this anniversary of a long global nightmare. It's tragic to realize that many, many people are willing to entertain the most specious of connections and shadows of evidence. Public security has been society's weal for quite some time, but that the average, good and reasonably circumspect person is willing to buy into this suspension of disbelief, like the rapt audience of an absurdist stage play, is astounding. In a few years Iraqis and other subversives may be blamed for a whole range of misfortunes from bad harvests to difficult births. I wonder if those witches were ever blamed for what they were actually at fault for, like for being easy targets, scapegoats, objects of mass-hysteria, distracting people from their true problems, or for not being real.

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Mohs scale

Having retrieved the miraculous car from the garage, I've had some time to reflect on my own injuries, lick my wounds, so to say. It's funny how we two, the car and I, are generally twained. The car is running hot and angry any longer, but, and H would agree, being in a stellar mood and of sound health should not be a prerequisite when starting off to work. Or should it? I sustained a terrible burn on my forearm, while trying the state of the boiling raditator--not that it was steaming so dramtically when I pried the cap loose. I thought I had waited long enough for it to cool down, but the cap blew off and was lost with a hot torrent of sticky anti-freeze that clung like Napalm. Of course, the burn should have been he top priority but I was not in any pain, and hours later, catching one glimpse of the ugly blister that hung off my wrist like more reverend testicles, H arranged for a doctor to see me and fix me up. Of course, after several days, it is still healing, though still without any pain. The blister skin peeled away in one great wet scale, revealing the partched, new skin below, blotchy white and pink and plasticene. The lesion, hard and smooth, reminds me of the things around the house made of Melmac and Bakelite, which I think are leagues better than modern, tawdry plastics, and Bakelite and the like are far superior in certain ways, like for insulating and heat resistance. I'll show it off, my arm, and people squirm, insisting it must hurt a lot. It doesn't though, and I wonder at my high threshhold for pain. It certainly contributes to my shoddy record of taking care of myself--I don't dislike the idea of potential pain or bad news from the doctor but moreover the bother of it all. Looking at my resined arm, I wonder if tolerance like that is purely mental, bloddy-mindedness, or is also some measure of material property. Like Mohrs scale of hardness (diamond--err, that'll be a ten and baby powder, we'll make that one), I am sure it would be very subjective.

Saturday, 6 September 2008

Come Josephine in my Flying Machine






Last week H and I trekked to the slopes of the highest summit in the region and hiked about a bit. Though apparently more popular for winter sports, this turned out to be an amazingly jaunty place, like punting on the Thames and badminton and fancy, fully-equipped picnic baskets, with not only beautiful views and families flying kites and running radio-controlled model airplanes, but it also boasted a UNESCO heritage site for the nature reserve and the world's oldest glider school and a recreational airport. Sport aircraft were buzzing back and forth and towing gliders into the sky over the swarms of kites and toy planes. We see some pretty neat stuff, I must say. (Those hapless people who were messing up my shot are neither H nor myself--just my shadow in the foreground.)

Friday, 5 September 2008

Idle Fridays--Your Tax Dollars at Work

Come to think of it, I always did manage to get myself in trouble on Snow Days, and pretty much any other time I was left to my own devices. There is only a hint of a waning summer left, and I think people this afternoon have abandoned the idea of working. And at the risk of jinxing this peace, I'd venture that it is rarely this quiet. I wonder what pattern, series of insults, deadlines and mounting tasks ultimately lead to this sort of afternoon when people skip out early. I was never one to just disappear, but maybe that is the safer route, since in a more controlled-environment, one tends to become more and more creative in finding ways to incriminate oneself. There is discovering blogging, for example, and really testing the tolerance of your company's nannying software, not to mention those more ambitious projects with the inherited files and binders of uncertain provenance. It is less often, in my experience, than one would expect--certainly not every week, regardless of how routine one's job might be. It is the collusion of an appropriately spaced holiday that makes for a shorter week, the weather, a dodged bullet, and a dozen other factors coming together, that make for afternoon like this. I should make myself scarce, too, before prying into the next can of worms.

Thursday, 4 September 2008

I am so happy--in fact, I think I'll have to blog about it!

A few days ago, the miraculous car decided to give out on me, and despite my poor bed-side manners and the mental "do not Resuscitate" bumper-sticker that I had being meaning to add, I've decided to try to haved it mended. That, I am sure, is an expensive proposition, and it illustrates the strange sort of attachment that people have for their cars. I've managed to imbue with not only a sort of long-suffering personality, but more over with a kind of family of characters: the talking navigator has his own distinct selfhood, as does the little notebook where I make lists and jot down things that I might like to blog about and always forget and leave beside the passenger seat. Those accessories could only go with this car. In the interim, I can't fret over too much, and rented a bouncy little Smart, a smug vehicle that's made me a measure more daring when it comes to parking closer to my front door. I'm waiting for a Jetsons' flying car before I'm willing to put this one to pasture.

Thursday, 28 August 2008

Zombie Driving

I have a fairly long commute to work, relatively--that is. I've queued up with the day-trippers before at the Bahnhof in the next larger town making the diurnal run to Frankfurt or so, but I don't imagine that many of my neighborhoods wouldn't find such a daily drive off-putting. On the way there in the mornings, I usually have enough to keep me occupied, ticking off a mental list of what I need to accomplish at work and worrying a bit about my endemic tardiness, so it might be expected that I wouldn't recall every spectacular and mundane detail of the trip. On the way home, however, I usually experience rather grave omissions in my route. Quite suddenly, I'll find myself pulling into my usual parking spot, with absolutely no recollection of the half-dozen villages I passed along the way. It's a bit worrisome, and some days I have taken to counting the seconds it takes to cross the main thoroughfare of a village or ticking off certain landmarks--that overpass with the merge lane that makes me uncomfortable, that bit of graffiti, that photovoltaic plant that's blinding upon approach on sunny days, the teepee in the field by the gothic monestary, and so on. Despite all these mneumonics, I still wind up transported to my doorstep. I seriously doubt that I discover a wormhole along this stretch of county road, or that something traumatic (though this is what scares me, the thought that I was a rude, zombie driver or caused an accident that I can't remember) happens in Unterrupertshausenburgbergbachtaldorf that causes me to daily suppress that memory. Maybe I have developed a mechanism to cope with a long commute.

Sunday, 24 August 2008

Coffee Maker--why always must it be sooner or later?

Each toting one defunct famously pad-based and portion-controlled coffee-maker, H and I must have looked rather odd proceding to the village recycling center. In fact, we're generally only seen there doing such odd-looking tasks, twice-twinned. Both these coffee-makers had given up the ghost, so to say, and though I tend to horde such things in hopes of sponetous resurrection, I had since gotten a non-portion-controlled coffee machine (which was, by the way, identical to the one H had at his home) and felt it was acceptible to retire them to the bin. There was, after all, a little old man who fished around in the broken electronics and transferred the whole lot to his barn to tinker with. I said good-bye to the pair as we dumped them in, because, like the little old man, I was a firm believer in the transmigration of the souls of machines. Perhaps they'd be reborn as blenders. I paused a second after that thought, and said to H, maybe my coffee-makers, both bought and went defunct in quick succession though no neglect or misuse I swore, had had a crisis of identity. Maybe they themselves were former toasters or plough-shares had had glimmering memories of former lives while brewing my coffee.

Friday, 22 August 2008

Shooting Blanks



Throughout the summer, one finds these Aztec-patterned red and black bugs swarning over trees and bushes in great orgies. After hearing the suggestion that these bugs were not indiginous or invasive but rather introduced as a biological weapon during the Second World War--a story that I never heard a second time, I became convinced that I had seen the same bug-orgies in Oklahoma.
In an effort to disrupt domestic German food production, these insects were air-dropped over the fields. The story seems even more plausible given that I have only found such large accumulations on and around US Army bases, which were mostly created from occupied German army installations. The story never concluded that this bit of biological terror was very effective.

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

He won't get far on hot air and fantasy.

I thought I should make mention of my miraculous automobile. For several weeks, I was having an intensifying condition while, wherein my motor would bog out if I accelerated too quickly, really anything above 3000 revolutions per minute would kill the engine. The car would then slowly coast to a halt as the oil indicator and cruise-control lamps came on and the power-steering go out. It was probably a more pressing problem than I could be bothered with this past month, but I kept putting off taking it to a shop and managed to limp dangerously along the Autobahn to and from work, convinced I could ride the slip-stream of the slow truck right ahead of me and save gas--possibly a tendency to coast to save on gas started this problem in the first place, but I formulated quite a few theories in the meantime. Besides, the car generally restarted right away and I could creep back on to the Autobahn on a conservative 60 kilometers per hour and I was going away on holiday in fancy rental car. H could have beat me for being this irresponsible, especially after a couple trips in the passenger seat, on the fenders on service vehicles and trash trucks, watching me concentrate to keep the gears from shifting higher. Cruising at 60 km/h is not stately, even for a big, old sedan. Though I formed my own theories about what expensive things could be wrong with my car, while on a vacation from driving it, I figured most problems resolve themselves. They tend to do that, and I was already convinced my car ran on holy-ghost power.

Driving back to work the first time, I could feel the same studder and stall and drove carefully. The motor did eventually bog out again but this time, even after a few minutes' rest, the car would only creep a few meters along the shoulder before giving out again. The tow truck driver was witness to this obviously major problem and pronounced it to be either an electrical or fuel problem. Those were pedestrian explanations, I thought to myself, having had time to theorize my own complex reasons. Looking back, I am glad the driver spoke to the mechanics once we arrived in tandem at the garage, since apparently I have a very vivid imagination. Or my car has Munchausen Syndrome by proxy. After a full battery of inspections with computers and a team of mechanics, followed by a vicious test drive with one of them where I gave it full gas and pushed the car pst 200 km/h, there was no shutting down and they could nothing wrong with the car. Perhaps my car just needed to mount a tow truck, and the mechanics weren't exactly dismissive but sent me on my way.

It reminds me of my old Mercedes, which had a busted odometer that was stuck just above 300 000 miles driven. During a Vermont winter, I discovered when it was bitterly cold, just above absolute zero, apparently the odometer could register sub-atomic vibrations and began again to function. I told people of this, but disbelieving, no one was ever tempted to come out in the cold to witness the miracle.

Friday, 15 August 2008

It's Brittany bitch

H and I are back from our latest adventures: we stole two weeks away from work to go marauding through Normandy and Bretagne (Brittany) in a rented convertible, racking up some 3610 kilometers. It was a simply beautiful time and we saw some of the grandest works of nature and of man, as well as some poignant battlefields and memorials. Here is a small sampling of pictures below, mostly to H's credit.




Our indirect route took us from Kitzingen, in middle Bavaria, to Landstuhl, near the Eifel region and location of the largest US military hospital overseas, to Reims via the Autobahn on the periphery of Paris to Vernon in the Mesnil region; DAY TWO we traveled from Vernon along the Seine River valley to Les Andelys, the ruins of a fortress built by Richard the Lionhearted, through Duclair and Rouen, then Jumigeres, Motteville and Yerville, camping at Saint Aubin sur Meer; DAY THREE leaving the camp site, we drove along the Alabaster Coast to Fecamp and Etretat and Le Havre, and next we went through Honfleur, Houlgate, and Sallenelles before stopping in Caen; DAY FOUR from Caen, we proceded to Arromanches, then over Gold and Juno beaches to camp at Vierville sur Meer at Omaha Beach, exploring the villages of the Calvados region, Grandcamp Maisy and the Pointe-du-Hoc and the Operation Overlord memorial; DAY FIVE decamping, we explored Coutances, the Cerisy Forest and Saint Lo, we stayed in Granville, and crossed the flats to see Mont Saint Michel from across the bay at Genets and the medieval town of Avranches; DAY SIX after Mont Saint Michel, we followed the Cancale Coast, leaving Normandy and entering Bretagne, and visited the corsair (pirates, yar!) town of Saint Malo, and on the Cape of Frehel we saw Fort La Latte, Hillion, Yffiac and Saint Brieuc and Etables sur Meer before coming to camp at Paimpol (the small village of Ploubazlanec) on the Armour Coast; DAY SEVEN was devoted to the Island of Brehat, the beach, and the quiet towns of Bretagne; DAY EIGHT was spent on the pink granite coast surrounding Perros Guirec, which seemed like the ends of the earth and this was the denoument when we turned to head back to Germany, traveling through Lannion to Rennes, the region's capital city; DAY NINE from Rennes, we toured the Forest of Paimpoint and Fougieres before hitting the Autobahn in earnest, heading home.