Wednesday, 5 October 2022

transitland (10. 197)

Via the always excellent Maps Mania, we are treated to an interactive application that not only maps the coverage of the globe’s mass transit systems but can also chart one’s public transport journey in an unfamiliar area. The site gleans data from twenty-five hundred carriers in fifty-five countries from public GTFS data, originally Google Transit Feed Specification—a company maps experiment that sought to give alternative means of getting from point A to point B forgoing one’s car, and now a standard available to operator called General, so coverage may appear spottier in large swaths of the world than it actually is.

Wednesday, 28 September 2022

medieval woman (10. 175)

Fรชted on this day on the occasion of her death in retirement on an estate in Schornsheim near Mainz in 782 (*710), Saint Leoba was a Anglo-Saxon nun (originally from Dorset), missionary and companion of Boniface in his quest to proselytise to the German people. Credited with multiple miracles and intercession through prayer, Leoba founded nunneries in Ochsenfurt and Kitzingen and was entrusted with a leading role in evangelizing in Franconia by Boniface and his apostles, first as abbess in Tauberbischofsheim and putting Leoba in charge in his absence whilst sojourning in Frisia (see above) and was the sole woman allowed to enter the monasteries in Fulda, where she was eventually entombed near Boniface. St Peter on the Petersberg contains her crypt, known as the Liobakirche, is a landmark rising above a relatively flat plain I pass on my weekly commute and will make a priority to visit soon.

Wednesday, 14 September 2022

dispersal agent (10. 133)

While I can’t say whether it is the most efficient pastime, once I get settled and can establish a routine in a new workplace I have taken to gathering oaknuts, acorns, hazelnuts, pinecones and chestnuts from that have landed on pavements (and on my path—for the most part because I don’t want to turn this into more of a compulsion than it already has become—I get some looks but there are quite some spent seeds for the taking) during my lunchtime walks in the city during the week. I amass a sizeable bounty having filled my pockets daily and when I go on my walks in the woods, I try to toss them into a patch of land that I assess ought to have a tree. Maybe the forest will accrue in a decade or so, we’ll see. What do you think? I am surely not the only one who does this.

Wednesday, 7 September 2022

fahrkarte (10. 115)

Though happy to pay full fare and subsidise public transportation, I do miss the 9-Euro bus and regional train scheme offered during the past three months to help offset high fuel prices and inflation besetting Germany chiefly for the simplicity and making local travel a bit easier to navigate, explore and reducing congestion and do hope that it comes back in some form. It was a really inopportune ending, coinciding with the start of the school year and a drastic reduction of services in Wiesbaden, going on the Saturday schedule for some routes. A group of activist is campaigning for its return by establishing a fund to cover the fines (60 € or more) for those members fined for riding without a ticket—and encouraging members to display a tag for potential fare collectors or inspector that they are intentionally riding without a valid ticket, so as to avoid the more serious charge of defrauding the transport-providers and only incur the lesser fine for “Schwarzfahrer”—fare-dodging. While an organisation is free to offer amnesty for its members and champion the return of a cheap, flat-rate, their actions could also be legally construed as public incitement to commit a crime—through ticket evasion.

Saturday, 20 August 2022

erlebnis bergwerk (10. 073)

Decommissioned since 1993 but revitalised since as a living museum and working mine and venue, I had a chance to visit with H’s father the salt and potash (Kalisalz, used as an important agricultural fertiliser) extraction operation near the village of Merkers on the Werra river not far from Bad Salzungen.  

 Aside from the long history of mining and a comprehensive lesson on the enterprise and geology that bores under the Rhรถn mountains, the location is also the hiding spot for hundreds of tonnes of gold, silver and paper currency (amounting to around eighty percent of the holdings of the Reichsbank at the end of the war) and many priceless works of art looted by the Nazis, discovered per chance by the advancing United States army (tipped off by slave labour transporting treasures to the mine) who then worked quickly to clear it out of Soviet occupied territory before the borders were demarcated.

After being lowered in safety gear—like actual miners beginning their shift—in a hoisting cage that descended into the dark, and driven in flatbed transports from five to eight hundred metres below the surface through a network of tunnels that covers an area the size of Munich. 








Though the vehicles were only taking the dips, curves and ascents at under twenty kilometres an hour, the darkness, wind and narrowness of the shaft made it seem much faster, like a roller coaster ride stretched out for some two hours, with intermissions, lastly in the above Goldraum, a pair of excavated former bunkers that now serve as a machine exhibit, theatre and a concert hall with uncommonly good acoustics and unique crystal grotto with accompanying bar for refreshments—the deepest in the world.  

It was definitely worth the visit and would drag H along next time.
 

Thursday, 18 August 2022

hawa h 1 vampyr (10. 070)

On this day in 1922, engineering and hang-gliding pioneer Arthur Martens—lieutenant and front-line pilot with the Red Baron’s fighter squadron—participating in the Rhรถner Gliding Competition (Segelflugwettbewerb) took to the air, launched from a rubber rope in a glider of his own design from the Hannoversche Waggonfabrik (HaWa—see also), on the Pferdskopf slope of the Wasserkuppe, the highest mountain in the range, and set three records for endurance, altitude and distance in an unpowered craft. Flying for over an hour, Martens flew a distance of just under nine kilometers circumnavigating the Wasserkuppe ten times, taking advantage of updrafts to glide in a figure-eight, demonstrating for the first time a technique that’s employed by all pilots a century later.

Friday, 5 August 2022

centuriation (10. 041)

We’ve always been a sucker for aesthetic city map generators (see previously here and here) this Pretty Mapp App—via Web Curios (lots more to explore there)—is no exception. Here is the city plan for Wiesbaden.  The palette and themes are fully customisable as well as the zoom and detail specifications for whipping up some quick and attractive cartographical renders. Try summoning up a bird’s eye survey of the town of your choice.

Sunday, 12 June 2022

draisine

Again begging the question why it took all of human history and endeavour up until this point to invent something so useful and practical and democratising as the bicycle—see previously—it was this fine day in 1817 that Karl von Drais took his Dandy Horse (Laufmaschine) out for a long and leisurely test-drive from his home in Mannheim to the Relaishaus (ironically a relief, relay station for coach-drivers to refresh their horses) in Schwetzingen, a half a day’s journey on foot reduced to one hour, speedily executed at the respectable pace of thirteen to fifteen km/h without exertion.

Monday, 6 June 2022

i said young man, pick yourself off the ground

Founded on this day in 1844 by businessman (in cloth wholesale), philanthropist and great-great-grandfather of current (at the time of publishing) Prime Minister Boris Johnson Sir George Williams, in response to the appalling working conditions in London, the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA, CVJM, Christlicher Verein Junger Mรคnner jetzt Menschen auf Deutsch, now a pseudo-acronym or orphan-initialism with the letters standing for nothing) was based on the beliefs of Congregationalism including the Muscular Christianity movement that promoted the notion that the body is a temple and that the physical beauty of athleticism and self-discipline were a compliment to godly behaviour and deportment. Drawn to the cities by the Industrial Revolution, there was a considerable dearth of activities for the new recruits to occupy themselves with—other than taverns and brothels—and Williams, with the support of a consortium of fellow drapers, wanted to offer his workforce better accommodations and more wholesome activities and encourage better citizenship. Basketball, volleyball, racquetball and water polo are among the sports invented and formalised at YMCA facilities. Though still considered a para-ecclesiastical organisation espousing Protestant values, its mission and outreach has expanded and become more inclusive. You can get yourself clean, you can have a good meal, you can do whatever you feel.

Wednesday, 18 May 2022

nationalversammlung

The session opening on this day in 1848 in the Frankfurt am Main Pauluskirche as a result of the March Revolutions precipitated by the upheavals for Prussia and the German Empire caused by the Napoleonic Wars and the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire, the Frankfurter Parliament marked the first freely elected assembly for all of Germany and ran until the end of the month. During heated and lengthy debates and negotiations, the body produced a constitution (Verfassung des Deutschen Reiches) which established a united empire adhering to the principles of parliamentary, representative democracy, a constitutional monarchy headed by a hereditary emperor—Kaiser. Whilst the Prussian king initially rejected the title that the assembly wanted to bestow on him on the grounds it would abrogate the rights of princes who led constituent states, the contentious gathering nonetheless provided model legislation for the Weimar Republic and the Grundgesetz (Basic Law) first adopted by West Germany and then the reunified republic. Much more information at the links above.

Monday, 16 May 2022

ac/dc

Three years to the date after Nikola Tesla delivered a famous lecture to the American Institute of Electrical Engineers outlining the efficient production of electricity from a centralized location and transmitting the power generated over long-distances using alternating current, the International Electrotechnical Exhibition opened at Frankfurt’s Westbahnhof and demonstrated the first such inductive feat, the power generated from a hydroelectric source some one hundred and seventy five kilometres south from a waterfall at Lauffen am Neckar. The Post Office helped erect the transmission lines, a considerable amount of copper wire—the three phase arrangement (3ฯ†) that is used for most modern grids to this day trebling or rather thirding voltage across three wires each with the current offset by one hundred twenty degrees—that retained about three-quarters of the output over the distance, the experiment proving that generation in situ, with direct current, was not ideal in most domestic and industrial applications, confirmed and adopted by the United States and favouring rival George Westinghouse (Tesla’s employer) over Thomas Edison in the War of the Currents at the Columbian Exposition in 1893.

Thursday, 21 April 2022

red baron or what do you want on your tombstone?

Vaunted as the ace-of-aces of the Great War, Manfred Albrecht Freiherr von Richthofen was shot down and killed on this day in 1918 after scoring his seventy-ninth and eightieth air combat victories the day prior. Previously we had poked about Wiesbaden’s Sรผdfriedhof in search of the Red Baron’s resting place and thought it appropriate to visit today. Already elevated to legendary stature in life and subject to hero-worship that Richthofen was wont to indulge as well as respected by his enemies, the circumstances surrounding his death are a matter of controversy and speculation, coming to the aid of his cousin, another member of the elite Flying Circus (see above), Lieutenant Wolfram von Richthofen, who was taking enemy fire. The source of the fatal bullet is uncertain with several vectors entertained. As was
customary, the commanding officer of the Royal Airforce combatant squandron accorded the Baron a military funeral with full-honours, near the spot where the fighter pilot fell in Bertangles in the Somme—and had a more active than usual career in death, disinterred and reburied in the German Military Cemetery at Fricourt in Picardie, brought to Berlin by his brother Lothar (a site that was later relegated to a no man’s land on the boundary of the Soviet zone of occupation and often pelted with stray bullets in attempts to stop people from fleeing for the West—his brother’s gravesite in their hometown of ลšwidnica too was levelled once Silesia was restored to Poland after World War II) and finally in 1975 transferred to the family plot in Wiesbaden.

Wednesday, 20 April 2022

dgim

 Founded in Wiesbaden on this day in 1882, the Congress for Internal Medicine (present headquarters as die Deutsche Gesellschaft fรผr Innere Medizin pictured) was held in the Kurhaussaal and attended by some one hundred and eighty physicians with the aim to champion science and research in applied medicine and to highlight and harmonise best-practises across the discipline. Working closely with professional credentialing organisations, membership over the past century, a tumultuous one that endured world wars, Nazis, partition and reunification and new the challenges of scepticism of expertise, has swelled to nearly thirty-thousand with special focus on mentorship and attracting young people to the field through honours and incentivisation. 


 

Tuesday, 5 April 2022

bridgehead and bastion

Taking another stroll around the neighborhood during my lunch break (see previously) and with the subterranean pedestrian passage reopened I explored the Reduit—the redoubt that originally hosted the soldiers’ barracks of the fortress of Mainz across the River Rhein—the connected to rest of the Palatinate via a pontoon bridge of ships lashed together at the time of completion in 1834 when the garrison hosted troops of the German Confederation which included forces of Austria and Prussia

 The semi-detached caponier, separated by the inner courtyard, is a defensive feature to extend the protection of the fort’s curtain to outbuildings and beyond—and is derived from the French term caponniรจre for chicken coup. 

Damaged during World War II and not fully restored, today it is the seat of several local clubs and organisations and an open-air venue. The connecting tunnel is reserved as the Brรผckenkopf Kastel Graffiti Hall of Fame and features more gigantic street art murals.

Saturday, 26 March 2022

see something, spray something

 

My workplace located in the extended concrete canvas of The Meeting of the Styles (previously) international street artist collective and noticing some of the murals being given a new layer, I took a stroll around Mainz-Kastel through the train depot and some unwalkable places to document some of the expansive graffiti, especially noting those that referenced the district’s Roman connections and the neo-Classical redoubt / reduit bridgehead fortress that’s just across the tracks on the bank of the Rhein from the station.  We’ll see if we’re host to a whole new gallery of works soon.


 

Wednesday, 16 March 2022

colour palette



 

Saturday, 12 February 2022

bib

Founded on this day in 1973 under the executive agencies of the West German Federal Ministry of the Interior (with this boss door which we can all appreciate) in Wiesbaden, the Institute for Population Research (Bundesinstitut fรผr Bevรถlkerrungsforschung) was originally charged with investigating perceived declining fertility rates in the country but has since taken on more enlightened and enlightening studies, working closely with Destatis (see previously here and here), in demographics including longevity, migration and economic mobility.

Tuesday, 25 January 2022

milia passuum

Usually during lunch, I make a circuit around the neighbourhood of Mainz-Kastell and though I pass it every day, it still strikes me as a marvel and privilege that this ancient Roman milestone—among other archaeological artefacts—from 122 CE is just basically someone’s garden gnome. The highly abbreviated inscription reads as a dedication to “Emperor Caesar Traianus Hadrianus Augustus, Son of the deified Traianus Parthicus, Grandson of the deified Nerva, Pontifex Maximus in the sixth year of his tribunician [veto] power, Father of the Fatherland. Six miles (M·P VI) to Aquae Mattiacorum.” A near identical inscription (a decade older) was discovered near the Damascus Gate of Jerusalem during an excavation in 2014, Hadrian being in power during the Revolt of Roman Judea—the rebellion and the effort to suppress it framed as Expeditio—expedition (see also) Judaica by the other side.

Saturday, 4 December 2021

wรถrter des jahres

The panel jury of the Society for the Germany Language (GfdS, Gesellschaft fรผr deutsche Sprache) in Wiesbaden has submitted its selection for Word of the Year (see previously) chosing Wellenbrecher (Breakwater, in the sense of disrupting successive waves of viral outbreaks) as the overall top neologism of 2021. Runners-up included Pflexit for the mass-exodus of nursing staff (Pflegekraft) from the profession from burnout, stress and even threats of physical violence, Impfpflicht (mandatory vaccination), Ampelparteien, the English borrowing Booster over the German word Auffrischungsimpfung—which was the preferred term for second-dose, and the new formulation Funf nach Zwรถlf instead of Five Minutes to Midnight in addressing the climate crisis.

Sunday, 29 August 2021

eka-iridium

First synthesised on this day in 1982 at the Darmstadt Institute for Heavy Ion Research (GIS, Gesellschaft fรผr Schwerionforschung) the synthetic meitnerium (Mt) was given the above provisional designation following Grigory Mendeleev’s nomenclature for undiscovered atomic elements—the convention becoming a placeholder shortly before its discovery with the controversy over the honours and naming-system being overhauled.
The research-team wanted to recognise the previously overlooked contributions of physicist Lise Meitner for her pioneering work in nuclear fission and her co-discovery of the element protactinium with Otto Hahn. Curium being named for both Pierre and Marie Curie, meitnerium is the only element named for a non-mythological woman. Because of its half-life of mere seconds even in the most stable isotope, few of its chemical properties are known though study continues, and its periodic neighbours, hassium and darmstadtium, are both named for the above laboratory.