Sunday, 30 August 2009

i've got a brand new pair of roller-skates

A few days ago, I purchased a new mini-notebook to replace the trusty but unwieldy computer than I had been lugging around long since it's expected and planned-obsolescence. I think there's a communal sort of shame that pressures one into buying a new computer, as if one is forcing one's old model to perform too long into old age and past when it should be allowed to retire with dignity--like forcing one's own grandmother to earn her keep and subsist off of cat food. Transfering my photograph albums from the old beast to the sleek new one, however, I rediscovered a few things I had forgotten about. One was a short film--actually numbingly and crazy-making long, that was captured six or seven years ago to demonstrate my successful installation and set-up of a micro-spy-camera. The piece is only footage of my ashtray on the windowsill under varying color filters with the snowy night sky in the background--maybe eight minutes in duration. I am sure that this video would become viral and absolutely turn anyone who watches it stark-raving mad, like in that movie, The Ring. So, it's probably best to keep it from the public. Another thing I found was a collection of manhole covers. For some time, whenever I travel somewhere new, I have been taking pictures of unique manhole covers, like this fancy one from Weimar--it does not strike me as a particularly original thing to do but I have enjoyed doing so and getting stares. I just had forgotten that I had bothered to attempt to gather them all in one place before. One should take time to ply through the archives, once and a while.

Thursday, 27 August 2009


I came home today to find a rather lengthy note in the letter box. My neighbor had written a touching tract--all in English, mind you, about the passing of Ted Kennedy. She was sorry for this loss and recalled how her parents were moved by the JFK assassination. It was very sweet of her to take the time to write such a note, and made me feel ashamed that I had not taken the time to reflect on his passing. Politics is an ugly game, and surely Kennedy was hobbled by some underhanded dealings through the years, but one should take the opportunity to appreciate what some of these larger-than-life personalities can accomplish. Surely Ted Kennedy was working toward the greater good. The note was written, incidentally, on the reverse of President Obama's email directed to supporters--which in the past few days have been criticised as spam

Sunday, 23 August 2009

news you can use

Apparently, the swine flu has hopped species again, in a rather disturbing trend from pigs to humans to poultry--just turkey for now, I think. We both are supposed to be study orphans today, but I've been thinking about catastrophy. I would not want to worry H, since he's very excited about going to the States in late September as am I. Forecasts of doom put things in perceptive, albeit a skewed one, and sort makes worrying about hotel reservations and the price of tea in China seem rather irrelevant. It does not put a damper, however, on the fun of planning.

Tuesday, 18 August 2009


I was saying to H the other day that perhaps I should revisit the whole idea of the travelogue--that I ought to write about what happens on a daily basis, where we go, what we do. I do not think, however, that I am ready to committ to the non-sequitir fully yet. I might reveal unintentionally dark connections: let's see, we visited the monument and camp at Buchenwald and then a co-worker surprised us with a giant (a truly industrial-sized bushell) sack of plumbs from someone's orchard. Rather, I was making an observation that some else has surely made before about designers' tendancy to royally bundle things up. It's never just a mobil telephone--but a whole suite of communication and recording devices. It's rather nice to be able to hold that much computing power in one's hand--I just dislike the move to bump everything to the top of the food-chain, to evolve everything into a personal-computer because of everything it makes redundant and what you have left over that does double-duties. I have a TomTom and a handy and a portable DVD player with a broken screen in my car that all play music files, since my radio has been busted since 2002. A lot of things tend to move in this way--beefed up to the point of super-saturation, financial markets, coffee shops, environdiscount stores. The community I work in seems a little bit like that as well--existing mostly as a make-work program. The people working to serve this small base probably out-number the population of military personnel , and their jobs are only perpetuated by staffing the services they give each other, until there are enough retirees and civilians living in this ghetto that the military side is an after-thought.

Thursday, 13 August 2009

gaudeamus igitur, juvenes dum sumus

While in the background planning for a grand trip to my alma mater for my ten year class reunion, I've subscribed--friended--a strictly on-line university. Perhaps a diploma mill--ah good old DMU, but I have confidence in the operation. The only thing that has so far struck me the wrong way is how the virtual campus' open house was peopled with clever bots. The conversation strings that ran in the open house were not a lot convincing, meaning to appear like scads of energetic, bright new students, but did not pass the Turing-test. I don't care to be crowded among bots but I think on-line attendance is a part of earning credit. Maybe one of my laboratory projects could be devising a Johan Bot that could earn the degree for me.

Monday, 10 August 2009

pete and repeat

Apparently former US President Bush appealed to France's formerly leadership to join the war in Iraq (Iraqi Attacky II) on the basis of biblical prophesy--a mission to repel the apocalyptic agents Gog and Magog in the Holy Land. In this light, the backlash of the America public against all things francophone--dumping fine wines and serving Freedom Fries, is particularly disturbing. Make-believe weapons of mass destruction are almost a more compelling argument.

Sunday, 9 August 2009


Over the weekend I visited my parents and went to a few flea markets (Flohmarkt)--there's certainly nothing unusual in that, and I found this glass dish, which would be perfect for roquefort cheese. It's not a rare occurance--that I come home with trash and treasures, though regretably visiting my parents has been of late and they are the original Floh und Trรถdel (Flea and Junk, another name for such a bargain basement extravaganza)--and sometimes I play a game with H where I've casually hidden my newest finds in plain sight, flush amid the other vases and knick-knacks, and I wait until he notices them--mostly however, I have no patience for suspense and usually end up confessing. "Look at this unique glaze. I didn't have one quite like it."

Thursday, 6 August 2009

pay for play

In Germany, any decent company recognizes and rewards its employees at the end of the year with a holiday bonus--a 13th month of pay for their hard work during the year. It's not mandated but has become institutionalized, and has nothing to do with performance and shows no favouritism. Some companies, however--even companies in the health care business, are moving towards linking one's bonus to one's soundness of body. The last time there was an award for perfect attendance was in high school, and that was a snotty prize to get. If one misses 3 to 10 days of work during the year due to personal illness, one is entitled to half of the bonus--10 or more, nothing. Germans have no such thing as sick leave--an illness runs its course and one is granted leave until one is better--but there's never been a lower rate of absenteeism than right now. People are afraid for their job security, I suspect, and are wanting that bonus paid in full. I can't believe that those who make people well are taking part--it just seems irresponsible. One might spread his pneumatic joy around the office, rather than staying home and recovering. Swine flu, I imagine, is particularly pernicious in this matter. The 13th month--lousy Smarch weather.

Monday, 3 August 2009

Rule 4: Don't Be Mean

I am certain there is some fearful catalyst behind this meme that's apparently popping up on posters in the Southern California, but that is a point that I am wont to miss. I wouldn't want to be construed as shilling for an ideologue--and I don't care to much for the "socialism" caption but what ever was ever wrong with being a champagne socialist--but I wanted the great right-leaning masses to prove themselves capable of something creative and scathing, not just childish and crude. Almost there. Not quite. Maybe.

look that up in your funk & wagnall's

It is as if expertise is no longer a virtue and that the expert is something virtually extinct. Instead of having to ask the creepy comic book shop guy when Aquaman joined the Justice League of America or the pierced chick at the vintage record store who wrote "Tell me why I don't like Mondays," we have pawned away our resources and too quickly turn to the internet, which has commercialized most of the trivia and advice that we are seeking and rent it back to us at a premium--only now with no guarantee for accuracy. One no longer asks a ninja, and even health care professionals are avoided unless one is given the response that they don't want. It's more than a bit sad that the devotee and the fanatic , the guru and whatever comes with the territory have become superfluous--not to mention treacherous.