31 May, 2007
We knew Bernd, had been in the hospital a few months before, so we thought the call could well have come from him. Since he was not answering his door, I offered the ambulance people our hammer and told them they could break into the apartment from the kitchen window. They declined my offer; they were not legally allowed to pursue a forced entry, and therefore called the fire department.
We stood waiting outside Bernd’s door an agonising 15 minutes before the fire department arrived. Our neighbour was dead when they entered the apartment, though they managed to reanimate him. Unfortunately, there is no happy end to this story. Bernd was in a coma for nearly four years and then died, in his early thirties, without gaining consciousness.
I have been haunted all these years with the thought that if I had just overstepped the legal formalities and broken into the apartment myself and let the ambulance people in, maybe Bernd would be alive today.
Last night, I was at a birthday dinner at a tapas restaurant in Hamburg. The birthday gal was sitting across from me, talking very intently with one of her friends. The friend, four months pregnant, had just told her boss that she was pregnant. Since there was so much noise in the restaurant, I couldn’t hear what they were saying. All of a sudden my friend turns to the rest of us at the table looking very confused and tells us that her friend isn’t talking sense.
Fortunately, she mentioned the woman was a diabetic. I instantly jumped up and went to call an ambulance and emergency doctor. They took six minutes to get to the restaurant, by which time the woman was unconscious. The doctor and ambulance people did an amazing job of getting her back conscious in a short time.
I just received the news that the woman and unborn child are well and on their way back home. I feel as if the gods gave me a second chance.
30 May, 2007
I’m reworking a children’s story I wrote about ten years ago. It’s about a mischievous boy, Elroy, from the marvellous, mystical land of Hei-apshi being adopted into
I’ve just gone through the first read, possibly since I wrote it, and I delight in the story. What a surprise this is!
I’ve started collecting material to make up some collages to illustrate the story.
More and more, technology is affordable, approachable, and can be used to support creative effort. I’m not saying that my new digital camera, stock.xchng, and Photoshop, will make a great children’s book illustrator out of me, but it will enable me to produce a children’s book, which is economically affordable.
This way, the gods willing, I can read my stories later on to my grandchildren. What could be more wonderful than that?
29 May, 2007
If you want to see the first slideshow (here) of the places we visited, please give it a look. Besides one or two photos that I took, the photos were taken by Nomad Son.
We were nine, total, staying at Rosa and Ruediger's home. Imagine being able to offer six guests bed and board! They did so with much grace. Here is the second slideshow with all these various wondeful people.
The only regret is that I didn't have the time to visit with a few friends. Next time. I promise...
27 May, 2007
Just after we parked our car, we took these photos.
About five of them.
Just warming up, as it were.
And, then the battery went dead.
26 May, 2007
On the south side of the building there are four railway tracks, but only two of the tracks have platforms. This did not stop the station master from posting a sign bravely stating “Tracks 1-4 in --> direction”. Trains, of course, can only arrive and depart from track/platform #1 or track/platform #4. No train has ever, in the entire history of the station arrived or departed from tracks #2 or #3, because, in essence they are just tracks-passing-in-the-night between the other two tracks.
This false designation of information, makes me wonder what was the self-important train official’s motivation in pulling the wool over the eyes of the central logistic engineering bureau. Maybe the central bureau pays their station masers a salary based the number of tracks they manage.
And that’s not all. On the north side of the train station there are six railway tracks. Can you guess how they are numbered?
The first track/platform is track # 140. Yes, that’s right. And hidden behind a thick hedge, ten yards away from the end of train station, are track #40 and track #41. The other three tracks are not numbered.
For someone who worked as an engineer for twenty years and has lived in Germany for nearly twenty-five years, the Buechen train station is, and will forever remain, a complete puzzle.
24 May, 2007
After discussions of the first group, it was decided that the collages should be dream-like.
In this collage they wanted me to write an Arabic saying.
Unfortunately, all of my efforts to use one of the five Arabic fonts in my Photoshop or Word programs failed. I just couldn’t find the way of getting the text to write right to left or even get any of the letters in the font template on the screen. Can any of you enlighten me here?
22 May, 2007
1. The English website for the wonderful research project I’ve been working on the last three years is almost up and running. Amongst other tasks, I was responsible for coming up with the ideas for various school projects (here). Even though the students (grades 1-13) did all the work, the initial ideas for the projects usually were my colleague’s or mine. Click through the various projects under mixed-reality, mobile learning, and web cooperation (on the left) and try to figure out which of the projects were mine (creative engineer) and which were my colleague’s (complicated art pedagogue). (Note: I’ve only done a quality control test of the school project descriptions and video films today. The errors will be ironed out over the next two weeks.)
2. We don’t own a television in our household. This is not out of altruistic political conviction for the well being of my children, but because if we had one, I’m convinced I would undiscriminatingly watch too many silly shows and waste too much of this short and precious life of mine.
3. I read War and Peace in its entirety, without skipping one description of a wheat field, when I was sixteen. This was during my Russian phase as a voracious reader; somewhat like a blue phase of various artists.
4. I missed puberty by spending all my time between my twelfth and nineteenth birthday in ballet studios. This sort of experience (one shared by nearly all professional athletes, musicians, and artist) usually leads to an inordinate amount of intellectual and physical maturity at an early age, and insignificant emotional and sexual maturity in adulthood.
5. Two friends and I (on foot) were chased one evening through the streets of Cannes by a police patrol car. We had participated in a prank-gone-bad. The police did not find us.
6. We have five computers in our household, which is shamefully too many. On the other hand, we are all rather tech savvy and create as well as consume.
7. I believe strongly in the benefits of occasionally having dessert before dinner. Otherwise, we usually have no dessert at all; just a super delicious dinner is enough.
8. The jury is out on memes with me. This means that I will occasionally answer a meme, but do not pass them on. I am a devote chain letter breaker. As far as I can figure, memes are not chain letters, so therefore I can chose to participate as and when I wish. Therefore, dear Nordette, you have to come up with a ninth person on your list in order to fulfil your eight-person request.
Then, my favourite local bookseller, Catarina to pick up some books I ordered in German:
- Measuring the World, by Daniel Kehlmann
- Nachtrichtnen aus einem unbekannten Universums (literal translation: News from an unknown Universe), by Frank Schaetzing (who also wrote The Swarm: A Novel of the Deep)
- The Monstrous Memoirs of a Mighty McFearless, by Ahmet Zappa (his father, Frank Zappa, was one of my teenage heros)
- Die Rückkehr des Hexenmeisters (literal translation: The Return of the Witch Master), by Kai Meyer
Catarina has some tote bags from a large publishing company with the printed slogan “Lesen gefährdet die Dummheit” on them. This loosely translates as Reading Endangers Dullness. Though Dummheit is much more than just dullness: fatuity, brutishness, foolery, stupidity, etc.
My dear friend, Maria, two of her daughters, Nomad Son, Nature Girl, and I are all converging Friday on Rosa in Berlin for the long weekend. So, my first and only thought, as far as travel preparations goes, was to secure proper reading material for the journey.
Berlin is slowly but surely becoming one of my favourite big cities. There is a large street festival going on in Kruezberg this weekend, which should be lots of fun.
20 May, 2007
Writing my blogs, reading other serious bloggers has made me very curious to know why people write, when and how.
Over the last two years, I’ve written my blog or in my journal regularly: often, over prolonged periods of time, even daily. I don’t believe I ever wrote with such constancy during my adult life.
Which is paradoxical, considering that my command of the English language continues to deteriorate exponentially each year I live in Germany. Unfortunately, I do not know any English-speaking persons in my day-to-day life, and thus, when I speak or write in English, I do it poorly.
Even though I have not rewritten with any constancy the years before writing my blogs, I’ve always written: various children’s stories, an outline for a novel, three computer game scripts and a rather long family journal. Each of these projects was written over finite intense periods of time.
Other than the family journal, none of the other documents have been published in the form they were intended. Sometimes this saddens me, most time not. I thought if I studied about the art of writing and reflected upon the importance of writing in my life, maybe I could find a way to join past and current projects.
Presently, I’m working through three very interesting books:
If You Want To Write, A Book about Art Independence and Spirit, Brenda Ueland (1938)
Journal of a solitude, by May Sarton (1973)
One Writer’s Beginnings, Eudora Welty (1983)
What is wonderful about each book is that, for each author, life is writing and writing is about life. There is no distinction between the two. They also do not presume to give instruction. They just describe very well how creative living or writing is a long journey, consisting of ever varying landscapes.
The fact that they do not give me lists of things to do, or formal instruction about steps to take in order to be published, has helped me to free my spirit and find ways to transform old projects into new ones.
I’ve decided to rework the children’s stories and illustrate them with collages. I started transcribing (into my computer) my journal entries of the year’s sabbatical I took nearly twenty years ago. I thought I would take the entries from the time before leaving my engineering job at a large German corporation (sounds like Seamens but is spelt different), the year sailing from Scotland to Venezuela, as well as the time afterwards (i.e. before I relocated to Luebeck) and incorporate the personal journal into an interactive, multimedia Internet journal. I’ve also decided to reinvest time and money in selling my game script to Sony again.
What amazes me is how quiet reflection, slow study, and giving myself time to ponder, can create such a shift in perspective. All of that hectic, frantic, I’ve-gotta-decide-now is quite useless, isn’t it?
18 May, 2007
I loved it. I just loved it. If anyone wants to know what village living is like in northern Germany, how it is that the largest European heavy metal open air concert manages to return year-after-year to the small village of Wacken, and mostly, to witness hues of tolerance between two clashing cultures, this film is a must. Sung-Hyung Cho created an intelligent, warm, kind, funny, subtle documentary.
The best part about train travel is that it is a form of Slow Travel. It doesn’t matter what speed the train is travelling, if inwardly I slow down, sit back, and just let my attention wander between the passing landscape outdoors and the book on my lap, the world becomes a delightful slow-moving tapestry. By paying attention to my surroundings, quietly, curiously, happily, my mind quiets and ideas start to surface.
When I was in my teen years and early twenties, there was nothing better I liked to do then jump on a plane with only a carry-on piece of luggage and fly off to visit friends or family. Plane travel was like cheating time. Leaping across boundaries by jumping on a plane and puff…
- Five hours later I could transport myself from my minimalist concentric student life (Waterloo, Ontario) to the open, forever-changing life on an old wooden motorboat (Vancouver)
- Eight hours later I could leave winter (Montreal) and land in summer (Grenada)
- Eleven hours later I could travel from ultra modern fast-paced urban (Toronto) existence to rustic, mountainous Heidi-land, stays-the-same-for-centuries lifestyle (Switzerland)
Somewhere in the 1980s plane travel started to become less desirable, or fun. The way it is today is nothing less than patience taxing and ecologically unsupportable. Not only do I feel compelled to question the ecological validity of each plane journey, but also when I partake in the journey, I know the whole experience is likely to be awful, crowded, and exhausting. Try as I might, I can just not get into the same mind-frame as the one I experienced in my early twenties. Some of this has to do with aging. Some of it, the conditions set by the airline industry.
Thank heavens there is the Deutsche Bahn; allowing me to travel in the land of Slow.
17 May, 2007
I also spent approximately 14 hours on one of the days of my stay, taking photos for the above-mentioned time raster film.
With a little bit of help from Nomad Son, I managed to create my first film for YouTube today. It’s odd, but I am really excited about having something in the “my video” folder of YouTube.
Neither my husband nor children understand why I’ve been walking around with twinkle toes all afternoon. They occasionally look at my beaming face and say something along the lines of, “Yeah, it sure it great... (yawn)” The only explanation I can come up with is, I have a feeling of being an actor now and not just someone in the audience. Or, maybe, I am a participator and not a consumer. It’s no big deal, but it sure is fun!
16 May, 2007
My daughter is off for a day of visiting museums (Christian Dior 1947 to 1957 exhibit) and shopping in Berlin. Pretty sophisticated outing for a 12 year old, but it was her birthday gift from one of her (chosen) aunts. Mine is not to question… (I’m allergic to shopping).
It’s raining so much that I am tempted to forgo picking up our traditional Wednesday evening falafel takeout and cooking up a meal for the rest of the family myself. Well, maybe tempted, but I’m sure the falafel will beckon me beyond the warmth of our living room door.
Just looked out the window and the rain water on the street is surging past deep enough to carry a kayak. (Yes, an exaggeration.)
14 May, 2007
To counteract this frivolous ridiculousness, I’ve become quite a fan of different elder blogs. These bloggers write about many topics. Today, Ronnie Bennet of the Time Goes By blog writes about The Mystery of Life, which happens to be the inevitability of death. She writes her opinions, experiences, and (non-) beliefs concerning this topic. She expresses them well, but not emphatically. What I enjoy particularly about this post is how considerate and interesting the comments are to her postings.
Do any of you read blogs concerning topics outside of your expertise?
12 May, 2007
Sehnsucht translates as longing, but the roots are sehe (see or understand) and Sucht (addiction). As you can imagine, it is word with many layers. The collages are supposed to include the idea of Sehnsucht, a longing to see again or understand what has come to past, or even is long gone.
I asked them to describe what colours come to mind when they think of home,
What textures they feel on their skin in the heat of the day,
What social setting they remember most fondly,
And then, I asked Munu to describe a dream.
These are just my initial attempts. I imagine there will have to be a lot more before any of them are “just right”. I'm going over for a chat and tea tomorrow. Wonder what they will think.
11 May, 2007
Today I found out that Mother’s Day was not originally about receiving gifts in recognition for being a mother, but about giving thought to mothers and children living in the rages of war and creating a day of peace. The poet Julia Ward Howe wrote the original Mother's Day Proclamation (1870) calling upon the women of the world to unite for peace. Please watch this video, but make sure you have a Kleenex at hand.
For the first time in my Almost Fifty years, I will celebrate this Mother’s Day with all my heart and soul.
10 May, 2007
I created this collage of hope this evening, while thinking lovely thoughts for those who are taking important exams (Yeah, Fee! You go get’m gal!), undergoing surgery, attending a job interview, and having a medical examination tomorrow. May all go well and the gods be merciful…
09 May, 2007
Obviously, I could just do the technical changes first: easy RSS feeds or change archive format. Instead of doing this, I thought I'd write you and ask you about your opinions on the following issues:
1. What "types" of postings do you find interesting?
2. What "types" of postings do you immediately dismiss without reading?
3. What would be three changes you would suggest that I make to the blog, either in layout or content, to improve the blog?
Please leave a comment or write to me (Lia) at virtualredtent AT yahoo DOT com.
I would very much appreciate a bit of guidance in this matter. Thank you.
07 May, 2007
What I find so special about the piece, beside the pure serendipity of it, is the fact that they are sisters.
In some ways they remind me of my sister and I: someone who I love dearly, share many interests, talents, and quirky personality traits with. We are both equally interested in all things artistic and technological. We endeavour to squeeze every bit out of each day (talent) and, (unfortunately at times), every bit out of our relationships with others (quirky personality traits).
There are phases where we feel emotionally or spiritually like Siamese twins. Others find us speaking at each other rather to each other: unheard, misunderstood. It doesn’t matter whether we are in the same room together or an ocean apart, we always have something to say. Something deep and meaningful, that can’t wait a second more to be told.
Here’s to you, sis!
06 May, 2007
Yesterday I participated in the 24 hours flickr event. If you want to see photos taken all over the world yesterday, go here. I made up a slideshow (here) and actually wrote a comment to each of the photos. If you want to read them, just go here and click on any of the photos.
05 May, 2007
04 May, 2007
Now, I have that off my chest, you can read a much more intelligent, articulate, and questioning article (here) from Dorothy at BlogHer about the possible influences of (sexualised) girlie produce. Please spend time reading the comments; some of them are interesting.
This article gives a bit of background behind the motivation and economical factors of Barbie 2.0.
When I compare my childhood and my daughter’s childhood, the one major difference has been our exposure to media at an early age. My parents didn’t buy a television until I was a teenager. The only other form of media in our household was a radio in the living room, permanently set to the classical music station. We (i.e., my present family) don’t own a television, though we have numerous computers in our household. My daughter was sitting at a computer (15 minutes at a time) since she was three years old: “playing” educational programmes.
The one main similarity of our childhoods is that both of us spent every waking moment of our days playing. Usually with our (real) best friend or friends.
Because of this, I am not sure what the point is with the Barbie 2.0 site. Why would any girl want to meet her friends virtually? That is, assuming that I am correct in thinking girlhood happens somewhere between your fifth and tenth or eleventh birthday. Can anyone help me here to iron out this puzzle of misplaced commercialism?
Don’t you ever wonder who actually sits in on those marking meetings and reach the consensus about “Fashion, Fun, and Friendship”? How can they believe this to be a brilliant idea worth spending money on to produce and promote? I suspect the use of the site is easily reduced to fashion (a 3D substitute to paper doll cut-outs) and fun (a virtual doll house), and it has very little to do with friendship.
Flickr is holding a global photography event tomorrow (May 5th) called “24 hours of flickr”. The people participating in the event (moi!) are going to document their day photographically and place all the photos into the group page with the help of the flickr organizer (here). At the moment, it looks as though over 20,000 people have signed up for the event. Can’t wait to see what comes out of the idea.
There is so much happening in the field of photography, for any one to use. I thought I’d link you to a few of the new applications or tutorials (here, here, and here) and gadgets (here and here) for fun. And then when you have a selection of photos, there is so much you can do with them (here and here).
I’ve tried printing some of my collages as cards and I am amazed at how good the quality is. About fifteen years or so ago, I printed up a series of postcards to sell in Grenada. What a long and torturous process that was. I made up the layout in Luebeck, and sent the film proofs (sorry, don’t know the word in English) to the printer in Barbados, and they printed up 8,000 postcards. The quality of the print was good, though the colour tones were not at all as I imagined. Not bad, but just not as I thought they would be. In the end, I managed to sell all of the postcards. Thankfully so.
I really wish I knew of a digital printer site where I could get cards or postcards on demand a few hundred at a time. Ideally, this site would allow me to change the motifs as well. Unfortunately, the offers I know of on sites like mypix.com are really only good for personal use. If any of you know of a company that I could use for commercial use, I’d really appreciate hearing from you.
03 May, 2007
Here follows a few, but not a complete, list of my sins of solecism:
Alternative: strictly, this is one of two, not one of three, four, five or more (which may be options).
I often talk about alternative medicine to mean various forms of natural holistic medical practices.
Anticipate does not mean expect. Jack and Jill expected to marry; if they anticipated marriage, only Jill might find herself expectant.
Actually, I don’t believe I use anticipate incorrectly, I just like the example.
Circumstances stand around a thing, so it is in, not under, them.
Compound does not mean make worse. It may mean combine or, intransitively, it may mean to agree or come to terms. To compound a felony means to agree for a consideration not to prosecute.
Convince. Don't convince people to do something. In that context the word you want is persuade. The prime minister was persuaded to call a June election; he was convinced of the wisdom of doing so only after he had won.
Discreet means circumspect or prudent; discrete means separate or distinct. Remember that “Questions are never indiscreet. Answers sometimes are.” (Oscar Wilde)
And so on …
There are a few explanations given that are simple in nature, but I do not know if I knew how simple they were and thus used the words properly:
Compare: A is compared with B when you draw attention to the difference. A is compared to B only when you want to stress their similarity. ( “Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?”)
Current and contemporary mean at that time, not necessarily at this time. So a series of current prices from 1960 to 1970 will not be in today's prices, just as contemporary art in 1800 was not modern art. Contemporary history is a contradiction in terms.
And then there are a few "common" words on the list that I've never used at all, whether correctly or incorrectly:
Aetiology is the science of causation, or an inquiry into something's origins. Etiolate is to make or become pale for lack of light.
Autarchy means absolute sovereignty. Autarky means self-sufficiency.
02 May, 2007
The Satorialist is a favourite blog of mine, even though I know nought about fashion. The Satorialist is in
01 May, 2007
And somewhat on the same note of geniality is this Swedish performance art/music video…
I’ve love walking and anything that reminds me of its joys, deserves a collage.