26 December, 2005
Feng-Mei Heberer, who is spending a year in China, wishes that the day-to-day lifwe in her newly adopted country of residence become “selbstverständlich ohne an zu Entdeckendem” (very rough translation: self-evident yet, retain a sense of constant discovery).
About a year after I moved to Germany, I went to a reading of an author (sorry, forget her name) who was born in Poland, eventually moved to Australia via France and then, after many years, to Britian. Her’s was a holocaust survival story, written beautifully and fluidly in her adopted language, English.
After the reading, someone in the audience asked her why she wrote in English, her third language (French was her second), instead of in Polish. She said she did this because it was a challenge to write about her life’s experiences in a language which she spoke fluently but was not her mother tongue. The foreignness of the language rarefied her childhood memories and sharpened her sense of lost without coating it in sentimentality.
She also said that she had come to embrace her foreignness. She liked living in London as a foreigner, simply because she would/could never become complacent. She could never just wander through a day without posing questions, making comparisons, or embracing newness.
20 December, 2005
In particular, two teachers whose students are doing pilot blogging projects at their school, have told me that they are seriously considering two further, long term blogging projects. The scope and timeframe of these new projects are bigger and longer than the present ones.
I am particularly pleased that the teachers were not discouraged by the mediocre, in my opinion, results of the students in their present blogs. The teachers were very sovereign about the initial outcome and optimistic that the students would eventually understand the essence of blogging with time and exposure.
Tomorrow, I am taking a train up to Kiel with a high school teacher, who also teaches at the University of Kiel, with her 9th grade students to present their project. I will give a presentation about our research project. It is going to be a long day.
If all goes well, I plan to be decorating the Christmas tree with my dear-hearts tomorrow evening, after having indulged in a warm meal and drunken a fine glass of red wine. Bliss.
17 December, 2005
At one point in our journey, the bus drove by an elaborate store window display of evening wear. One of the women comments about the evening gowns and how they skimp so much on the material around the bosoms that it is impossible to wear a bra.
Her friend responded with the observation that once our breasts start to hang down, loosing their battle with gravity, it is time to use “support and lace” to handle the situation. Though she personally enjoys a bit of freedom and goes braless when she is working in her garden. She assures her friend, it is ok to do this because it’s only she and the birds that can see.
16 December, 2005
Yesterday’s book (yes, we are talking about mass consumption here: 10 books in about 12 days on last count) had two really good quotes, which I can only paraphrase:
It’s easier to get forgiveness than it is permission.
The difference between heaven and hell, is the company you keep there.
Now, maybe both are much used sayings, but they did strike me as being very astute. I especially like the second one in respect to heaven and hell on earth. Where would I be without my wonderful, eclectic, crazy collection of family and friends?
11 December, 2005
I find watching the movie too embarrassing, and though I can’t explain why, it is so. So I prefer to be writing my blog and just hearing the occasional good piece of music from the movie's sound track, inter-dispersed with a lot of yelling and screaming and sound effects of people falling down.
10 December, 2005
07 December, 2005
In Everywoman this week they debate the following:
“Tall people – do they achieve more?
Did you know that the
Well according to research from the Scottish Universities of
Never having been able to use the term tall in relation to my person (except for that one time when I was travelling through
I finally discovered an index of interesting German blogs in the Brigitte magazine. Looking forward to subscribing to a few.
03 December, 2005
Even the cynics/ Scrooges/ Bah-humbuggers, like me, have a hard time not to be cheered by the lighted candles, classical music, spicy smells, and people milling around enjoying each others’ company.
This person invited a brass orchestra to play in his apartment for the delight of all the passing shoppers.
The Christmas Mark in the town centre is in full swing. Mulled wine (is that the right expression), roasted almonds, and traditional baked goods are sold to masses of Scandinavian tourist from dawn to dusk. Heavens, can those Scandinavians drink! I’ve heard they can even drink the Aussies under the table. (Now how is that for exposing two stereotypes?)
Local goldsmith uses his living room centre piece each year in his shops window. Yes, aghast, it is a real stuffed reindeer. But done ever so tastefully, don’t you think?
01 December, 2005
I can’t wait to surf with speed. Undoubtedly, addictive.
27 November, 2005
Talking about bums... I was in a restaurant the other day and a three or four year old (precocious) girl asked her mother how you spell caca (in German, aa). The mother explained to her daughter that one does not write caca, but if she was to write it, it would be written aa. The girl spent the rest of her lunch writing aa in her soup, over and over again.
26 November, 2005
The first of Advent is tomorrow, though the Christmas Market started yesterday. This old Unesco city sets a magnificent stage for such celebrations. It also means that those of us who actually live on the island, have to crab-walk through the crowds for the next four weeks.
Read this article in the New York Times today. Even the title, “As Corporate Ad Money Flows Their Way, Bloggers Risk Their Rebel Reputation “, made me want to wince. What rebel reputation? Maybe Ms. Story should first go back a few decades to the founding of the telephone.
The telephone was initially an alternative to the telegraph: purely a means of information exchange. It took all those women working in the post offices to transform an information device into a communication device. It was this shift in content which started a revolution.
The same revolution, not act of rebellion, has been happening the last two years in the Internet, driven, in part, by bloggers and podcasters. The times of rebel or cowboy bloggers has long gone. Journalists, politicians, educators, parents, lovers, priests, and even, yikes, lawyers are using blogs these days. The fact that some of the bloggers have found schemes to earn money doing this seems very secondary.
25 November, 2005
It’s Friday and time to go and luxuriate in a café.
The one café I go to has a non-smoking section. Revolutionary. When the café first opened up, the non-smoking section was at the front of the café: drafty, small tables, uncomfortable upright chairs. I asked the manager why the sofa-section at the back of the café was just for smokers: didn’t they think non-smokers like to laze about?
They kindly made half the sofa-section non-smokers, but it doesn’t work: the smokers still sit in the non-smoking section every hour of the day.
So, I started a new sport. While ordering my coffee, I ask the café employees whether they could please ask the smokers to reseat themselves. And then I go and sit down and watch how ineffectively the employee carries out her job (e.g. informs the customers that this is a non-smoking section, but doesn’t ask them to leave) and how huffy and put-upon the smokers react to the news.
Oh, I know this is petty, but it is better to be petty with a sense of the absurd, than a militant self-righteous non-smoker.
23 November, 2005
Four groups of children, one from each of the fifth grades, new to the school and surrounding neighbourhood, go out each day during Advent equipped with PDAs, GPS, and digital cameras and open up specific doors and discover surprises behind these doors.
Not only are the fellow students and teachers of the school involved in creating surprises (e.g. Christmas carols sung in Latin, Spanish, French and English, poems) for the 5th graders, but the neighbouring institutions (e.g. museums, grade school, hospital, churches, and day care centre) also have prepared surprises.
You can imagine it like a mobile digital multimedia treasure hunt. That is, if these words mean anything to you. I had a brainwave for the project in September, and since December seemed so far away, I decided we should go for it this year. Silly. Why didn’t I take into consideration that we (me, the Old Fart, and some university students) are also supporting about fourteen other projects in the schools?
Thus, long work days, frazzled nerves, but there is definitely a tingle; which tickled me awake at three this morning and I couldn’t get back to sleep. Definitely time to set in new tactics.
22 November, 2005
My mother called to tell a tale from her island in the sun. It concerns a British couple who moved into the neighbourhood. Very British. Very Hoity. The type of British that makes all citizens of previous British colonies or Commonwealth countries feel very insignificant, unworthy, and, the worst, very bland.
(Something to be equalled to attending a dinner party as the only non-French woman. French women are masters at giving other women The Look.)
My mother was all in a stir: it turns out that Mrs. Hoity Toity was, in a past life (twenty years ago), a porno star. My mother’s glee has no limit, “You can even google her and see it on the Internet!”
It’s it amazing how the verb “googling” has even reached the vocabulary of a 75 year old?
18 November, 2005
I was sitting in one of my favourite restaurants this afternoon with Sara. Joan Armatrading was playing in the background. Oh, I suffered such a severe rush of nostalgia that I nearly got whiplash as I whipped back twenty years or more in time.
I was right there listening to her LP (we actually bought LPs then and not CDs), reading Jane Austin, drinking a generous portion of scotch, and generally drifting aimlessly through the weekends with time to spare. I was also addicted to T.S. Elliot, Keith Garret, rare glimpses of Sam Sheppard on the movie screen, and holding my wardrobe together with safety pins (not as a fashion statement, this was Way Before punk, but as practical solution).
When was the last time that the term “spare time” crossed your lips? Seriously. When was the last time you actually had spare time?
They don’t even have a word for it in German. They have free time, which, if you know anything about anything, is not the same. Spare time is to be frivolously discarded, wasted, enjoyed or not enjoyed, depending on your mood of the moment. There is an element of timelessness about it. You learn what it is like to float in space when you are travelling in spare time. Ok, this might be getting ridiculous, because, obviously, I have never floated in space. So, the end.
P.S. for those that do not know, I am dyslexic and therefore don’t know how to spell names properly, let alone important masterful words. I am a slave to my spell check program.
11 November, 2005
If going to see the movie is as much fun as reading the article, then I am all for it. Here is a precious observation,
“What would Mr. Bennet make of the film? He would be left wondering, I suspect, why God gave him only two eyebrows to raise.”
Rainy Friday. Thank heavens. I've been so wanting a lie-on-the-sofa weekend, and now it has come.
10 November, 2005
“Just revisited your blog site - it's disconcertingly like reading someone's diary but also a lovely sort of indirect connection, in at a tangent as it were. Should I send comments, is that the idea? And then whoever logs in gets to listen in on the conversation? I am not very familiar with blogs yet.”
The answers to her questions are yes, and yes. To anyone reading this blog, it would be nice to know your thoughts on the topics I write about. It’s not a must, just a can do if the notion hits you.
I know that my blog does not have a general theme and purpose as yet. I am sorry; it is going to take me a while to figure this out. Most blogs I like and visit have a political, social, or personal message. Mine doesn’t. I am very open to any suggestions.
Generally, blogs are public documents. At the moment I see my blog as an honest, humble, but important alternative to sending serial letters.
Don't get me wrong about serial letter, I don’t mind receiving them, but I sure do not like writing them. A blog is something that you can read if you want, without you feeling it is actually meant for you.
I like to share with friends and family some of the mundane incidents or conversations in my day-to-day life. Blogging is an opportunity for me to relive those moments, as well as for you to gauge where I am sitting on precarious seesaw between balance and chaos.
Hopefully, with time, I'll find some meaningful content to share with a public audience.
The only thing they haven’t done, as yet, is to explore what they think about how it is for someone in a rolling chair to move around town and to articulate these thoughts for the other students. It is a bit like pulling teeth. Gosh, I hope I can extract some wisdom teeth today.
09 November, 2005
Off to a school in Travemünde this afternoon. The computer club is making up a ubiquitous learning/ website presentation about the
It’s a sunny cool day. Wonderful to drive to the coast with.
I won a (virtual) prize from the author of one of my favourite blogs (360 degrees of sky) for guessing that all of the strange stories she told in a blog entry were correct.
05 November, 2005
Everyone I know (practically) is down with a grippe. Strange, don’t remember all these winter flues hitting everyone simultaneously. I remember we all use to get one or two colds a year. Sometimes a winter cold, sometimes a summer cold, which oddly we thought was worse than a winter cold. Or maybe not.
Sara has her gym tournament tomorrow. Hammed, our neighbour, knocked on the door to ask when we (her loyal father and mother) were going over, so we could pick him up on the way over. Feeling Rather Guilty, I said neither Sara's father nor I had thought of going to the tournament. So, Plan B, I am going to pick him up at twelve and loyal husband, generously, says he’ll do the ironing.
Reminds me of the last year I danced in the Nutcracker at Les Grand Ballet Canadiens. My mother's friends kept on saying how wonderful I was and my mother had to admit that she hadn’t seen me that year: though to give her credit she had seen me all the previous years. There was a lot of tisk-tisking and so off she went with my grandmother to see me.
Every time I came on stage my grandmother would say very loudly, “There she is. Isn’t she wonderful?” After the initial ruffling of feathers of the nearby audience for talking out loud, My mother said most people got into the spirit of my grandmother’s enthusiasm and someone even pointed me out to her at a later point in time.
03 November, 2005
We started a new blogging program at the high school. It is about women literature in the 19th and 20th century. Will be interesting to see what the grade 12 class comes up with.
31 October, 2005
I wrote a particularly witty piece about my weekend retreat, only for the computer to bugger out on me.
So, now you are only going to get the photos.
They were all taken at the estate/wellness centre
or the nearby beach.
27 October, 2005
I am off for four day “retreat”… just time off. I am going to an old estate that was restored a few years ago to a wellness resort. I can’t afford any of the wellness programs, but the food is supposed to be excellent and the surrounding area is filled with walking paths and the
26 October, 2005
I am off tomorrow on a vacation-from-family weekend. Yes, my weekends start on Thursdays. Oh, the joys and delights of a part-time position. There is obviously a long list of disadvantages (e.g. economical belt-tightening, jealousy from colleagues, dead-end-street as far as possible promotions) but, on the other hand, turning off the computer on Thursday afternoon and knowing I won’t be turning it on until Monday morning, gives me a buzz every time.
Sara asked me whether stuffed animals ever die. I managed, hopefully, to quickly reassure her that they never do. The comfort and joy they give to her will always be there as long as she believes in them.
Sara worries that she is not distributing her love and affection evenly throughout her large stuffed animal menagerie. She takes two of the animals with her to bed each night, but often feels that the other animals are coming up short on the deal: even though she rotates the pick of the evening.
So, the question is…. is this little obsession of hers stemming from the always-feeling-guilty Irish gene, the tending-towards-melodrama Italian one, or the let’s-make-things-complicated German favourite pastime?
19 October, 2005
It was a rather teary and sad discussion needless to say. We twisted and turned around many aspects of these topics until she came to the conclusion that she just feels so bad that other children are suffering. My advice was to say, “If you don’t want to feel bad, then obviously you want to find a way to feel good. Maybe you can do this by doing something good”. So, she said she is going to make another drawing for Busayo today and promptly fell asleep.
How I wish all of such discussions could be resolved so easily.
17 October, 2005
I find this whole aspect of the American culture bizarre.
15 October, 2005
Just watched the movie “Vanity Fair”. Hats off to to my husband and son for sitting through the movie and offering some proper discussion about it afterwards. I liked it very much. Though, I couldn’t figure out why she couldn’t fall in love with Rawdon (James Purefoy)… well beyond his gambling, weak character, and lack of moral fibre. He was a great father though.
12 October, 2005
- Margaret Atwood
- Jodie Foster
- Maureen Dowd
- Michaëlle Jean
- Kofi Annan
- Joschka Fischer
- Barack Obama
- Bob Herbert
- Michael Ignatieff
- Michael Ondaatje
They are not listed in order of preference. I find each equally fascinating.
09 October, 2005
The age wave is my generation of people in about ten to fifteen years time. At which point the kinks in the pension plan will be blatantly apparent, as well as just about every other thing concerning medical system, housing, taxes, the work world, etc. … the political, social, educational, governmental systems are going to experience massive changes.
In other words, we are finally going to be able to whup ass when it comes making ourselves heard and making choices that could, hopefully, positively influence times to come.
07 October, 2005
These are titbits of what I took away from the conversation today:
- Sometimes I agonise about some development in a relationship, wanting to believe that it can be made whole again, but subconsciously, I know that this is no longer possible
- Authoritativeness and authenticity evolve from a common strength
- Theoretically, it is possible to speak truly and honestly. Practically, it is a hard thing to do even some of the time
- To share the minute details of your woes with a friend and not listen to, or want, any advice, is taking advantage of that person
01 October, 2005
Sara had to be taken to the emergency room yesterday because she strained some muscle around her hip during the school’s relay race. She ended up hyperventilating with the pain and drama of the moment. By the time I showed up at the track meet, she had settled down. The head of first aid services insisted that the hip should be looked into because it could be a fine line break.
So, she gets to hobble along on crutches for a few days. I am hoping that using the crutches will loose their allure quickly. She and Julien are supposed to go off to Erlangen on their own later this week.
(The first aid doctor had the audacity to ask me if Sara was someone who was resilient to pain or overly sensitive (translation - a whoosh). Pleease, he was talking about my precious Italian princess drama queen! I was so stunned by the question because of the audience: Sara, Julien, and other first aid helpers that I couldn't answer at first. Sara answered in a trembling voice but, with total conviction: I'm more of a tough guy. Oh, don't you love self-illusion?)
25 September, 2005
Then I thought maybe I would give the blog address to friends and family (well, my sister). The logic behind this was simple: the blog would gives insight to these people, if they were interested, about everyday occurrences and random thoughts in my life. And this without being one of those serial letters (which I do not like in any form or manner). I don’t mind reading serial letters, but I sure do not like writing them.
Yet, isn't a blog a public document to be shared with the public?
23 September, 2005
Celebrities use clichés as a form of verbal Botox - a cheap and manageable way of smoothing out the truth, which is always more haggard than they want us to believe.
Verbal Botox... just perfect.
22 September, 2005
Packing up my office. The students are helping (more or less doing Everything). The moving company is coming on Monday and so, we will be based out of our apartment until mid-week.
Praise to the most beautiful office complex in all of Luebeck, and possibly the world. Thank you for the endless sunrise silhouettes over the medieval city skyscraper. Wish I had taken a picture of one of those sunrises, but you can always go here (Media Docks) to get an impression.
Sniff! I will miss you! Farewell ol' harbourview.
The three women in the main office and the system administrator have been working like crazy packing away everything in the institute: in preparation for Monday's move. Feel bad that I haven’t been able to help. Going to go out and buy them extra chocolate for sure. Not that this will make them any less angry at all of us office slacks who have just been doing their day-to-day work and ignoring the fact that they have had to do that and all of the packing as well.
20 September, 2005
Beautiful day today. Been a bit of a whirlwind of a day. Introduced a new project to a grade 13: interactive web presentation on the theme “my start in the work world”. Held a short workshop with another teacher (grade 6 teacher) about blogging. Don’t know why, but came back just drained of energy.
I wanted to go to the fitness club this afternoon for a work out and a yoga class, but decided to just “work slow” at the stuff on my office desk. I’ll go off soon to the sushi place on my own for dinner.
I have been reading some blog-posts on the Freakonomics blog by a fellow called Seth Roberts. There are parts of what he writes which sound, to me, very strange, but other parts have really triggered thoughts about individual energy flow, weight loss or gain, and basically … how to live each day in observation and reflection while trying to overcome those problems .battled year in, year out.
The way I interpret his philosophy (might be the wrong word here)/ premise/ hypothosis is that in order to come up with the right ingredients for that ultimate Cocktail Cure to our personal maladies, don’t count on well-tried or tested recipes. Instead, work out, through self experimentation, what your recipe is yourself. Use intuition, suspicion, advice, tradition, knowledge, just plain anything… try it and record or register when something helps or hurts the problem. And once you start seeing a pattern or notice what helps, take the next step and see what happens then.
What I like about the whole notion is that it means that I do not go to a doctor or a counsellor or friend, etc. for a cure to my problem, but for new input for something that might help. It is up to me to figure it out whether this new something is, or is not, helping; and then take appropriate steps otherwise.
18 September, 2005
A dear friend wrote to say that the second breast surgery was completed. She is going to have to have radiation therapy, but no chemo and she doesn’t want to do the hormone supplements. Oh, how I hope she does well.
The German elections results are not shinning at all. Liberals (SDP) 34%, Conservatives (35%), Green 8%, FDP (?) 10%. The FDP (yellow) says they will not agree to a "street light" coalition (red (SPD), yellow, green). So it looks as though it will be a large (SPD and CDU) coalition, which means no opposition party. Ugh!
I am sooooo happy that the conservatives didn’t come in with a majority though. Who are they kidding; do they really think the liberals are responsible for the current economic problems and not the Kohl government of 16 years before?
There appears to be over 70% turnout…. pretty good.
Why can’t Bush be impeached for his lack of leadership and neglectful practices in New Orleans? If I remember correctly Clinton was nearly impeached for having oral sex and lying about it. Surely the perversity of Bush’s inaction and the ensuing deaths as a consequence also can be considered immoral…
My son has escaped into his sister's room to read and listen to the election results because I am writing on the computer in his room. She asks him to go through her French vocabulary list with her. He wants to know why I, her Mother, is not willing to practice with her. I tell her I am blogging. Priorities!
17 September, 2005
Nature Girl and a boy in her class were voted as class speakers. She complained the other night about the fact that she has to do all the work (e.g. collecting absentee lists, passing on school news to the children) and the boy is doing nothing. I, in all my adult wisdom and having worked in a “men’s world” for over twenty years, suggest that she ask him politely, but firmly to take over one or two specific tasks for a specific period of time.
She didn’t think this would work. When I asked her why, she responded by saying that not only did this boy lack leadership talent (my words), but he is aways in the middle of any trouble that takes place in the class when the teacher isn't there. When I asked for a specific example, she mentioned that this boy helped hang another boy out of the window during recess.
Very quietly and calmly, I asked her what classroom they were in when this happened (their art room is on the 4th floor!). She looked at me as though I was crazy; what does the classroom have to do with this boy not doing his class speaker duties? It turns out that they were in their homeroom on the first floor at the time: but still, a head is a broken head if he had fallen.
I gave up. This whole thing overtaxes my Little Mind. So, I suggested she talk to her homeroom teacher about it. Thus, once again proving myself to be one of little wisdom or sovereignty.
13 September, 2005
Was going to go on to yoga this afternoon, but I was just tooooooo poooooooped. Spent six hours in a school running from one project to another. Excellent teachers and very enthusiastic students. What more could I ask for?
12 September, 2005
A fifth grade class is doing a stop-motion animation (thumb cinema- Daumkino) project: which portray encounters of various creatures/monsters (drawn in primary colours) and how these encounters produce strange and wonderful consequences (drawn in secondary colours). The students have made up their creatures and written their storyboards. They start this week filming the stop-motion animations.
A grade 9 class has started the “Marketplaces of the World” sound seeing tour (podcasting) project. The students are also responsible for film and photo documentation of the project. There is an exchange group here from French speaking part of Switzerland. Hoping to lasso the teacher or students into participating in the project as well.
Another ninth grade project which is titled “Who am I in 20 years” (or maybe it is called something different). It is an interactive website presentation about five persons today (2005) and in twenty years (2025) (yes, I still can add). The students have “created” five representative persons with a biographies, likes and dislikes, etc. which they are going to present in English on a website.
The grade 13 class is also doing an interactive website presentation, which is part of an extensive project concerning career orientation.
My flavour-of-the-month project is a pervasive game project in the form of a mobile (in the real world) advent calendar project. The grade five (the first grade in high school) classes each have two student mentors. These mentors are going to program an interactive multimedia questionnaire (with software one of our university student’s has developed) for PDAs.
In December, the children will go on a treasure hunt each day to discover a “door” in or around the school and face a challenge. If they accomplish the challenge they will get a piece of marzipan and part of a puzzle for their Advent calendar.
The best news though was the “unofficial”, but ever so longed for, information that one of “my” master students, whose thesis I have been supervising, will be receiving an A on his thesis. This is the best mark given. Something he very much deserves, but nevertheless, we are both is a state of ecstatic shock.
08 September, 2005
Over the past twenty years, I have spent days and days trying to explain to German colleagues how come their spaghetti texts just won’t “translate”. One thought/ one sentence, subject − verb − object, no convoluted Russian doll sentence structures, consistent terminology… I have gone over all the ground rules again and again. Admittedly, it is hard to go against your language culture: the roots of our language are meshed into all of our thoughts.
So, it is nice, in the case of this colleague, to work with someone who listens and instantly responds. Besides developing digital storytelling systems, he is also an avid fencer. Maybe this allows him to change his language strategies with apparent ease.