30 March, 2006

Cold Turkey

Well, the children and I are off to visit my mother in Grenada for the next few weeks. (Have I mentioned this before? Maybe ten times over the last few days…)

After much reflection, I’ve decided to go down sans ordinateur! Oh lala, quelle horreur! Actually, I am hoping that going cold turkey will re-establish a balance between my enthusiasm and obsession with blogging, bloglines and news sites (here and here), as well as free up some time to spend with the children or in quiet occupation.

I am bringing down some work: the rough London Live (the sequel to Sydney Soap) treatment, some topics for the Red Tent blog to write, and an ideas book to expand. All can be done on paper and then transferred onto a digital medium at a later point in time. Back to the basics, it’s going to be nice.

29 March, 2006

Light Years Away

Here is the most marvellous virtual red tent that I’ve seen to date. I am dumbfounded by the beauty and simplicity of this participatory online exhibit called Imagining Ourselves. It is light years away from the Red Tent Blog, but it is wonderful to see that the whole concept of participatory action, finding your voice, sharing your ideas and notions, can be so successful. Take a look, it is inspiring and interesting to boot.

28 March, 2006

Build Up

I’m starting to get very excited about going to visit my mother and friends in Grenada. It will be the first time in two years. Also the first time since Hurricane Ivan destroyed so many homes (including my mother’s), businesses, and all the big beautiful trees, which once lushly populated the country.

By all accounts, the natural resiliency of Grenadians and the resiliency of nature are very much in evidence already. Many predicted it would take up to ten years for the island to get back on their feet again. Hats off!

25 March, 2006

When to Unsubscribe

Bloglines is a program, which lets you subscribe to a various blogs of your choice. Initially, you set up a list of blogs and then the program automatically tells you whether anything new entries have been written since you last opened up the list.

I made up my subscription list about half a year ago, and at any one time, I read daily the entries to 20-30 blogs, but only about ten of them remain constant on my list. The other ten to twenty blogs vary according whether or not their content can hold my interest and whether the bloggers’ behaviour is acceptable to my sensitivities. It’s true that sometimes the bloggers do just decide to stop blogging, but mostly the content of the blogs step over one of my “trash” borderlines, and then I unsubscribe (i.e., delete key) the blog from the list.

Here is a list of my trash borderlines:

  • a blogger proudly announces that he is a staunch conservative from way on back and, as far as he is concerned, there shouldn’t be any gun control in the States: the more gun carriers the merrier. (Trash factor: immediate)
  • there are so many co-authors on the blog that every day’s input on just that one blog is ten to twenty entries. I just reallyreally don’t have the time to wade through all that stuff. The information I gather from reading blogs doesn’t replace proper news sites. What I do, as in the case of the Huffington Post blog, is to just keep monitoring one or two bloggers on the blogs list. (Trash factor: over a longer period of time).
  • With personal blogs of people I do not know, but whose ideas and daily occurrences I find interesting, there are three faux pas that they shouldn’t transgress. First, start lamenting on the weather (admittedly a transgression I have been occasionally guilty of). Become obsessed about their health, or lack of: this includes both mental and physical health (I really don’t want to know how many forms of Prosac there are in this world). In the case of foreigners-living-in-other-countries blogs, when the only character descriptions of people you encounter in the blogger’s entries are those of people that are stupid, rude, or lazy, then something has gone wrong with the blogger’s perspective. (Trash factor: give it a while, for anyone can lose their way, yet rest assured, when the point comes you’ll know).
  • With personal blog of friends and family members: if you find out disturbing, critical or intimate details of their lives and they haven’t bothered to communicate these facts to you directly, there is something intrinsically wrong in your relationship and no vicarious acquirement of facts is going to change this. (Trash factor: immediate).

22 March, 2006

Another Collage as Blog Header

I also made this small collage for a friend for her blog.

New Collages

Here are two new collages. The first one, Tango Mix, is for a CD cover.


The second one, Radical Reminders, was inspired be music I was listening to at the time from the wonderful online radio program Radio Delirio.

19 March, 2006

Rize

Just finished watching the documentary film, Rize. I sat there mesmerized throughout. Washed over with moments of poetry; both in their dance movements, as well with the eloquent articulation of their lives and dreams. It was a gift to be given the chance to catch a glimpse of a world that totally is foreign to my own.

Usually, the only glimpse I get of this culture is through commercial music and film. The “success stories”: rigged up portrayals of people like Snoop Dog, 50 Cent, Nate Dog, Ja Rule, Busta Rhymes, etc.

I am both fascinated and in awe sometimes with their music. Equally, I am often fascinated and appalled with their excessive show of wealth and the flagrant waste in lifestyles.

It is not that I believe everyone has to be a philanthropist. Rather, the acquirement of large sums of money, brings with it new responsibilities as well as new opportunities. Whether these fellows like it or not, they are role models for many people. I can’t figure out what a hiphop star is trying to say when he proudly announces that he owns 36 slick, expensive cars. This is not a judgement call, it’s just… what does he do with so many cars?

Some of the people in Rize showed tremendous grace of character, richness of spirit, and profound understanding of the trails of everyday man. They put all of the Hollywood rappers to shame.

Warning: Downtime Needed

When do you know that you are spending too much time on your new computer? When your son comes into the room and says someone is knocking and you look down at your ICQ program to see whether someone has “entered” the chat room. Then your son looks puzzled at your apparent non-reaction and says, “Someone is knocking on our front door”. Oops.

16 March, 2006

Toffee Pull

Isn’t it odd how long it takes some projects to truly finish? In the last months I have “finished” about four long term projects: moving out of my writing office, the family journal, a collection of tango music, and Talkshow Rival’s game concept. Reflecting back on matters, it is apparent that there are still a lot of loose ends that have to be picked up. Such a process is really a toffee pull. I wish I knew of a more enjoyable way of doing this.

13 March, 2006

Taking the Plunge

Finally bit the bullet and set up the new computer at work, which has been sitting unpacked in the corner for the last three or four weeks. The only reason I haven’t fired up the new mean-machine is the fact of having to set up and configure everything again. No matter what anyone says (i.e. one of the computer science students who convinced me to take the plunge) it is hours and hours before the computer is in the same condition (good or bad) as the last computer was: let alone proving what a fine thing it is and thank-heavens-aren’t-you-glad-you dumped the old computer.

It doesn’t matter that everything is faster or “prettier” (e.g. new keyboard) or even bigger (e.g. memory: which is a good thing because my “organic hard disk” is suffering these days, let me tell you). A half a day of work lost and the thing is only chugging along slowly. Still have to install a long list of programs, download other programs, set up some program options, make up my desktop… ok, all just minor things, but still very annoying!

11 March, 2006

Mess of Slush and Snow and Dirty Water

We have had just about sort of precipitation in the last two days. What a mess the streets are in.

It was reported in the news, that there have been hundreds of car accidents in the last days. The city workers are on strike. Tension mounts.

Though, my experience is, the number of accidents are not necessarily solely do to the poor road conditions, but bad winter drivers. Theyjust don’t “get” how zero visibility, icy streets, and grimy slushy slippery conditions, can force you to drive more slowly, or even cancel plans for an outing. It is like people here just do not want to believe weather rules.

Enough.

It’s birthday party time today. Off to buy some balloons and other kitschy decorations. Our daughter turned eleven this week.

Today’s party agenda is: 14:00 guests arrive, birthday cake and cookie celebration, watch Spy Kids I on DVD, out to our local Italian Ice Cream Café for ice cream, Spy Kids II on DVD, short break for party games (accent on short), off to restaurant for children’s special, parents pick up their daughters at 19:30.

Older Brother of birthday girl (our teenage son) decided to hold a DVD marathon with two or three friends today as well. So, he is: a) on his own with all the arrangements (e.g. food and drink), b) going to have to do the shopping for both parties, c) keep the volume down, and d) all of the above. The answer is, of course, d. If they manage to comply with good grace, they might get some of the birthday cake, which will substitute for lunch.

09 March, 2006

New School Project

There is a great new web cooperation and mobile learning project in the works. One of the English teachers in a local high school wants to substitute/replace/augment the whole tenth grade English year curriculum (currently taken from a school book) with a project which would enable the students to study and qualify for the Cambridge BEC (Business English Certificate). At the end of the school year the students would receive their normal school grades and an application form to write their Cambridge BEC in a separate institute.

If all goes well, all four parallel classes will be participating in the project. The students will be blogging all their assignments and research work. They will also be using KiMM software, Moles and Mini Moles, to create multimedia interactive questionnaires and go out on mobile learning field trips (e.g. European Union trade policy bare bones: where does the shelf-produce in your local supermarket come from?).

08 March, 2006

International Women’s Day

Female union leaders and workers distributed roses to all the female employees at the university hospital and university research institutes today. It is a nice gesture.

My husband, a heart-felt Italian, extended well wishes to me and my like this morning, as I made my way to work. My colleague’s husband comes from ex-East Germany. He totally rejects today’s celebration of women because it has a bad after-taste of the Old Regime.

So I extend warm wishes of the day my female colleagues and all others who celebrate this day.

07 March, 2006

The Red Tent Blog Sneak Preview

I’ve been trying to get The Red Tent Blog up-and-running. Initially, that is two and a half weeks ago, I thought it would be “nice” to launch the blog on the International Women’s Day, which is a big deal here in Europe. Unfortunately, or more succinctly, typically, I didn’t have the right date in mind. The International Women’s Day is tomorrow, March 8th and not May 8th, which is when I thought it was.

I am in a quandary about what to do; we, the four initiators of the blog, are not ready to launch. There is still so much we have to do… just about everything. So, I decided on a link here for my friends and family and blog-readers-I-don’t-know to get a peek at the very-much-under-construction Red Tent blog. Just so you can get a feel of what it is going to be. Feel free to leave any comments or suggestions.

05 March, 2006

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

Can hardly believe my eyes... there is snow everywhere. I just went out for a long walk (haul) in Luebeck's snowy wonderland. The air is clear. The scenery is beautiful. The exercise exhilarating. What more could a soul wish for?

01 March, 2006

Candy Snatchers II

This is just a follow-up to the candy snatching city workers episode, which was included in my last blog entry.

The regional section of our city’s newspaper also remarked on the dubious behaviour of the men-in-orange. Apparently, they were not there on an extended coffee break, which is what I had assumed, but was too polite to mention in my blog. No, instead, they were there officially, on tax payers’ money, to clean up after the parade.

It is not often that we wee citizens witness the unbridled enthusiasm of our city workers: obviously, these gents decided to get a head-start on their clean up duties and began scooping up the candy even before their wrappers could be discarded by thoughtless littering children and other parade spectators.

Yet, to be fair, these gents, or their colleagues, do a fantastic job of cleaning up any evidence of foolhardy messy joy-making after all the numerous public celebrations (i.e. a city of parades and outdoor markets and fairs) throughout the year. You should see, for instance, how fantastic they manage to make the city streets look after New Year’s Eve. Roads that were previously a sticky mess of cardboard remains (from all the firecrackers) and littered with empty bottles or broken glass, return to pristine condition within a day of the celebrations.

So, to all the city workers of Luebeck, here’s one tax payer who says, “Snatch all the candy you want out from under the nose of children, you’ve earned the privilege.”