29 May, 2009

Telling Stories with Feeling

Recently, a good friend and I had a conversation about my blog. She mentioned how she loves coming to the Yum Yum Café to get caught up with the going-ons of my life. Further into our discussion, she talked about her occasional surprise and perplexity at the content of some of my posts. She wondered how I could write and publish such personal texts.

This brought me back to the dilemma I wrestled over nearly four years ago, when I started this blog; what is the difference between being engaged and personal and being too intimate and forthcoming? Admittedly, there are guidelines to follow and boarders that shouldn’t be overstepped when publishing a document. It doesn’t matter whether it is a newspaper article, a book, or something as inconsequential as a blog post. At the very least, the respect of privacy, both of others and our own, is one of the borders we should walk carefully. Therefore, the critical observation from my friend made me reflect upon how my guidelines and borders have changed over time.

It made me question whether I write about things now, which I wouldn’t have written way back then, or whether I divulge details of my day-to-day existence that would be best kept private. And, the answer is that I probably do from time-to-time. It is not always easy to walk the tightrope between remaining respectful of the people’s privacy portrayed in my stories, and writing about topics close to my heart and relevant to my life.

When I write a blog post that might be questionable, I ask myself the following two questions:

Will my children find what I write embarrassing?*
If the content was instead part of a café conversation I was having with a friend, and someone at the neighbouring table overheard it, would I be mortified?

If the answer to both questions is no, then, I’ll probably post the text. For, the raison d'être for this blog, is that my children have a journal of these years in future times. Secondly, even though this blog is public, it is read by only a few. Its readers are people I more or less know. I might not have met all of you face-to-face, but I do know you to be loyal readers and I hope this is because I don’t all too often cross that border into the extreme.

What I have learnt in the last years is that without the personal details and the emotional connection, there are no stories to tell.

* Both my children read this blog and have veto rights on anything I post.

26 May, 2009

Solitary Days on the Baltic Sea Coast


A few days escape to rethink, retank, and rejuvenate.

Boats in the Night

Miserable “Scheet” weather.
A sailor sits at the bar,
Brooding darkly, drinking beer.
He stares blankly ahead.
Malcontent. Dreaming of the
Warm salt breeze of the Caribbean Sea.

The bartender looks up at the
Crawling clock. She steels another
Glance at the last and only customer.
The slight flush to her skin stays hidden
In the darkness of the bar.
She shakes her head. Reprimanding herself.
"Stay away. Trouble there. You know it's so."
Still, she can’t help dreaming about the sailor,
While she wipes down the counter,
Waiting for her shift to end.

25 May, 2009

P(T)eaching to the Choir

Another good video trying to convince all educators and those of us involved in some manner with the education system the necessity to implement new technology-supported learning methods...

Best qoute, "This isn't the Information Age, it is the Learning Age. The quicker people get their heads around that, the better."

23 May, 2009

Sage Advice

advice of an elder

Spent this rainy afternoon listening to poetry. Being in a melancholy state of mind, I tended towards poems of adieu (here, here, and here). Which got me thinking about the life stories of various women friends of mine. Even though I believe in the power of literature and poetry to bring comfort into my life, I remember more clearly those words spoken in the company of friends. Here is the advice three of my elder friends told me about saying adieu:

When Jean realised she was growing old, she began volunteering at the local hospice. She thought a closer proximity to death and dying would help her to become familiarized with all of its various facets. After a few years, she told me, “We don’t have any choice about what we die from, nor do we really have any say about how long it will take or how much pain we will suffer. The only thing I know for certain is all of our personal attributes, whether those of strength or weakness, will accompany us right to the end. So, we shouldn’t waste any time; grasp every trail in our lives as an opportunity to exercise fearlessness and wonder.”

Kirsten spent her whole adult life with chronic back pain after an accident in her early twenties. As she was nearing her ninetieth birthday she said, “Each morning when I wake, I thank the gods for this blessing of another day. There is pain and there is suffering. There are also many pitiful indignities. But, most of all, there is this marvellous never-ceasing will to live, which is a constant companion along the way.”

Agi is a wise woman, a reflective contemplative being. She decided to study phycology when she turned 60, at the onset of her husband’s Alzheimer. She completed her studies when she was 65 and continued to care for her husband in their home until he died years later. Now she is acting as a consultant for other elders in similar situation to hers. One of the many wise pieces of advice she gave me was, “People who say they have no fear of dying, usually are not telling the truth. For the fear of dying is just the shadow side of our will to live. As we yearn deeply to live, we also fear to die. It’s as simple as that.”

I don’t know whether these words taken out of the context of our conversations might diminish their beauty. I hope not.

20 May, 2009

Technology helps people think in a different way

I always was sceptical of the "no child left behind" program and its focus on standardised learning. I wonder whether it wouldn't be more appropriate to start a "no teacher left behind" program that focuses less on information transfer and more on differentiating collaborative explorative learning methods. Or, just assure that teachers know about the "practice what you preach" policy of pedagogy.

My children have come home from school over the last while with numerous horror stories. Stories about the antiquity of their teachers’ teaching methods and their bomb resistant mental attitudes when it comes to technology.

This video shows that all they really have to do is stop talking and start listening.

19 May, 2009

Finding Your Truth: Living a Soulful Life

Definitely inspirational. Take a look. It is worth it. He speaks well about how soul is very much an expression of truth.

18 May, 2009

Short Story II

3 am move onto living room sofa +
reading sedentary literature +
dozing off and on +
vaguely registering the existence of drunken pedestrians shouting and singing outside living room window -
blissful dreams -
peace of mind

15 May, 2009

Speaking of Faith Interview

Well, the interview I gave to the Speaking of Faith, Repossessing Virtue series is out. My heavens, was I nervous to know if I made any sense at all. I did make one huge mistake when I said there was 250 people living in Luebeck, instead of 250 thousand. Oh well, live and learn.

If you would like to listen to the interview, please do, but only if you tell me honestly what you think. My daughter said she only understood half of what I was saying. So, it's one of those half full, half empty situations. Should I celebrate or despair?

There is also a collective podcast of eight persons who contributed to the series. I am one of the persons. If you want to listen to this podcast, please do.

Short Story I


food our exchange student likes +

all my efforts to find out

12 May, 2009

Another TED Talk

I know, not another! But, like so many of the TED Talks pertinent, passionate, and provocative. Seth Godin is certainly one of my heroes, and I think he shines throughout this presentation.

If you are looking at a very good list of TED Talks favourites, please take a look at this list from Garr Reynold.

09 May, 2009

Just By Starting You Are Halfway There

All of the talk in the last weeks about how the Obama administration has been doing, has been focused on "what have they done" and not allowed for a more broader sweep. This video might be interesting to those of you who want to know how some municipal governments are globally tackling some of the problems due to urbanization.

This might also be good time for all of us to take a look at how we are doing and what we are doing to make the changes we so demonstratively spoke about not four months ago. What are you doing now that you were not doing at the end of last year? How have things changed for you or your community? How are you creating positive and constructive change? I would be really interested to know.

01 May, 2009

High Brow, Low Life

I was just about to write a post about a new video I saw in Lawerence Lessig's blog. Even though the talk is rather lengthy, it is well worth making a cup of tea and watching it from start to finish. It is a talk he gave at Warner Music. Then my son sent me this blog post that made any observation I could make superfluous. I tend to agree with Mr. Lessig in all points, which does not indicate he is right in all matters, but rather, it means that I am not qualified to make any intelligent counterpoint. I didn't agree with Radio Clash, but admire the fact he argued his points well.

Instead of embedding the Lessig's presentation mentioned above, here is something you might like... Can't explain it, but I am so annoyed with the whole Twitter hype of the last months, it really caught my fancy.