Tuesday, February 28, 2006

The Olympics 2006 - Highlights

Kjetil Andre Aamodt did it again - he has won the Super-G ski competition and increased his collection to eight Olympic medals. It was A rare three-peat, because he has won the third Olympic Super-G (1994, 2002, 2006)! Altogether with his twelve medals at World Championships he has gained twenty international medals up to now.
He joked to come back to Vancouver 2010, he would then be 38. Nobody laughed, his competitors are still afraid of the Norwegian elk.

Germany ranks first in medal standings. Eleven gold medals, twelve silver medals and six bronze medals. A good result, but a lot of the medals were gathered by the experienced athletes.
Some disciplines were a total loss: Alpine skiing, figure skating, ski jumping. No medals at all!
Some glittering highlights: Biathlon (eleven medals!), nordic combined (medals in every discipline) and bobsleigh (either).
Michael Greis has won three gold medals in biathlon. Georg Hettich has won gold, silver and bronze in nordic combined. They were the most eager medal collectors.

Doping remains to be an unsolved problem. There was a big scandal around the Austrian team. Already the Austrian officials try to sweep everything under the carpet. Although blood conserves and shots were found in hundreds, they claim that nobody was tested positive. Two biathlon athletes and a coach (he injured a police men and damaged police cars on his flight) flew from Torino back to Austria.
A very bitter aftertaste remains.

Some notes of my favourite athletes and teams:

  • The Russian ice-hockey team has won the sheet medal. Only fourth in the competition, despite a good tournament (and beating the Canadians!).
  • Lasse Kjus the second Norwegian Wood skier failed to win another Olympic medal. His results: Downhill 14 th, Super-G 14 th, Giant Slalom 18 th.
  • Georg Hackl, Germans best (three Olympic gold medals and one bronze medal), funniest and most experienced luge athlete finished 7th. This will be the end of his glorious career.
  • Curling, skeleton and short track remain to be alien elements in the Olympic program

Thank you Torino, see you in Vancouver 2010!

Friday, February 24, 2006

Our house - in the middle of the street

We really did it. Hard to believe, but it's true. We have bought a house of our own in Nuremberg.
We have dreamt for a long time, and we were close to believe that the dream will not come true.
But Tina didn't stop to read the ads for houses and then it went very fast. In the run of about two weeks we inspected a house in our part of the town three times. First Tina and Emma, then Tina, Emma, my parents and me and then an architect friend of ours and me.
Then we calculated and worried and dreamt and hoped. The estate agent was bothering and tried to enforce the decision.
I was decided first, well to be true my parents were first. Then Tina followed. We will see in a few years what Emma thinks.
But we will have a big, nice house (7 rooms with altogether 150 square meters) and a gorgeous garden (the property is 450 square meters).
There will be a lot to renovate but we are looking forward to it.
We can start in August and in autumn we want to move in. A thrilling year is lying ahead of us. Cross fingers for us!

Father wears his Sunday best.
Mother's tired she needs a rest.
The kids are playing up downstairs.
Sister's sighing in her sleep.
Brother's got a date to keep.
He can't hang around

Our house, in the middle of our street!

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Bird flu is coming to Germany

Our government seems to have no emergency plans at the moment. So take care to have your personal strategy of avoidance.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Famous Germans - Heinrich Heine

From the newspaper "Frankfurter Rundschau" today:

The paper dedicates two articles to the poet Heinrich Heine, who died 150 years ago.

Ina Hartwig describes him as the "wittiest, most serious, and most undaunted writer in the German language."

German Studies expert Manfred Schneider is highly sceptical of the "reconciliation" between the Germans and their poet, who "ruffled many a post-Stalinist feather" during his popularisation in the seventies. "Only since the Germans learned that it is an art to talk as art demands, since they became familiar with the paradoxes of language and the world, since they found a foothold in the language of the modern, can they send their children to schools named after Heine."

Heine wrote "Deutschland. Ein Wintermärchen" (Germany. A Winter's Tale), an account of his visit to Germany the previous year and the political climate there, in 1844.
Many of the things written there could still be true for today, the political satire is still up-to-date.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

My funny Valentine

We celebrate St. Valentine's Day today, the traditional day on which lovers in certain cultures let each other know about their love.

I wonder why we need a certain day for this aim? If this would be the one and only day to prove your love to your beloved, how sad the world would be?
Isn't it more or less a commercial date, where florists blossom because of the outstanding turnovers? Where thousands of men soothe their bad conscience and run like hell to get the most withered flowers.

A friend of mine told me she likes to get flowers from her husband on St. Valentine's Day. Her husband says, he won't buy her any flowers at St. Valentine' Day. I wonder what will happen? Will a matrimonial conflict occur? Will he buy flowers despite his attitude? Will she forgive him, when he will come with empty hands but an amiable smile?

Tina and I decided not to give presents to each other but I feel the light and tender nagging of the white part of my heart. Corazon tan blanco. The deep dark part of my heart tells me not to worry. You have made a decision. It is set. No problema. Steinscheißer Karl.

Play the "Steinscheißer Karl" game. Invented by Josef Hader, I have written about him here. It is an easy game. You lose and you are "shot" whenever you will use the word "who". You will get the answer: "It is Steinscheißer Karl". And then game over.
He plays the game with the devil in one of his cabaret programs "Privat". He comes to hell and meets "Luzi" Lucifer. They decide to play the game and Josef can leave hell when he shots Luzi. Luzi has never been shot before besides one time. He was shot by Jesus. Jesus said : "Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me". Luzi asked: "Who"?
Josef starts to explore hell and accidentially meets Reinhold Messner, the famous Austrian climber. He sits round the purgatory with all the other sinners, but he is alive. Josef asks him what he is doing there. He answers: "Well, no living human being has been here before. I wanted to be first".
That's what explains the sense of Messner's life. He has been the first to climb all mountains higher than 8.000 meters. Etc. etc.
Josef goes to Luzi and tells him: "There is one person in hell over there, that is still alive". Luzi looks with eyes torn open and asks: "Who?". He is shot and Josef is free. He succeeds.

If you come home with empty hands on St. Valentine's Day and your wife will ask why? Tell her that you had the most beautiful bunch of flowers and the most perfect Valentine's card. But on the way home you got into a fight with a mean and evil person you know, who stole your precious acquisitions and ran away.

Let me guess what your wife will ask?

You will be the winner. Nothing can happen. Don't be afraid.

Monday, February 13, 2006

The Olympics 2006 - Kjetil Andre Aamodt; Norwegian Wood

Germany had a weekend of light and shadow at the Olympics 2006 in Turino, Italy. Two gold medals, for Michael Greis in Biathlon and Georg Hettich in Nordic Combined, but also a lot of disappointments in Luge, Ski-Jumping, Cross Country Skiing and Speed Skating. Well, we are still second in the medal standings (U.S. is first, Norway third).

I have to admit that I will cross fingers for a Norwegian athlete. It is the skier Kjetil Andre Aamodt. He was born on September 2nd, 1971 in Oslo. That means he will turn 35 this year.
He is still competing and still among the best skiers of the world. Yesterday at the downhill race he missed a medal for 6 hundredth of a second. Tragically he had to withdraw from the combined event that will start today with an injured knee.
Probably he will not have the chance to increase his collection of medals. He is the only skier in history to win seven medals at the Olympics and another twelve medals at world championships. Nineteen (!) medals at international events will probably never be reached again by another skier in future times.
He has also won the overall worldcup in 1992 and several discipline worldcups in his career. I watched him for a long time and it was absolutely incredible how he managed to be in top shape when one of the international competitions took place.
Not him alone but also his companion Lasse Kjus, the second Norwegian "elk". He has won five Olympic medals and eleven medals at world championships. Kjus's greatest achievement may have occurred at the 1999 world championships, when he earned a medal in every one of the five Alpine events - two golds and three silvers. Aamodt and Kjus together have gained thirty-five medals. Isn't it good Norwegian wood?

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Famous Austrians - Josef Hader

The second Austrian this year. Somehow amazing considering the traditional enmity between Germans and Austrians. But I think Austria is the foreign country I visited most in my life. I love the landscape, the Alps, Vienna, Skiing, and I found the people to be very friendly, however peculiar sometimes. But who isn't?

Josef Hader (visit his homepage here, it's worth it!) is an Austrian cabaret artist, actor and director. He visited a catholic high school and despite and/or due to this past he calls his relationship with religion and church "love-hate". After his civilian service at the Red Cross he began but didn't finish a study for teaching profession (German and history).
He decided to become a cabaret artist. His fifth program "Privat" (Private) has become a legend. He played it for 10 years (!), a period of time never considered to be possible for this genre. But I was so good that it did not fizzle out. When you see it or listen to it, you will understand. It's unbelievable funny, tragic, absurd, amazing. You are torn between laughter and tears. An experience for sure.

I heard it on the radio first and now I have a DVD, I didn't see yet. I'm looking forward to it.

I also love his movie "Indien" (India). It is based on a cabaret program as well. The bourgeois Heinz Bösel examines hotels in the Austrian province concerning compliance with hygiene regulations and trade-legal defaults. But he is ever ready to overlook breaches of regulations as long as he is corrupted with wine and food by the landlord and landlady. He is accompanied by the young, ambitious but simple Kurt Fellner. The two very different characters come nearer to each other in the course of time and discover their very own weaknesses and particularities. The delicate friendship of the two inspectors takes a special, surprising and tragic turn at the end of their journey.......
I will never forget the end of the telephone talks between Kurt and his (still) girlfriend: Drei, zwei, eins........Bussi! (Three, two, one ......kiss).
A running gag in our family.

Out now his new program "Hader muss weg". I will go and see it with Tina in may, one day before my birthday. A review will follow.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Lies of life - Time

Time is a term that is hard to get hold of. How much time do we have on earth? Will it be enough? Enough for what?
What will happen after our death? Another time era? Another beginning? The end of times?
These are some of the main philosophical questions I think.
I have no answers so far, just some hopes and thoughts.

I hope I will have some time left on earth. I consider life to be a gift. Like a glass of potion that we can drink or pour out and waste. I'd like to drain to the dregs. But even if life is over tommorow I hope I could look back without anger and regret. Death is not to be considered bad, if a good life has preceded. That's my opinion.
I had time enough to marry and get a baby, I had a lot of time to love. Love is the main reason of life in my judgement. What else could be worth more? Do not tell me it's money, cars, intoxication or anything like this. If you'd like to tell me this, give me a reason. I'm going to listen.

I like to divide the year in several parts. There are some buoys who show me the way. Holidays, red-letter days, festivals, birthdays. Right now I'm looking forward to Carnival, where I will visit my sister in Cologne. You got to stand still sometimes and review. Make new plans. Then carry on.
Without checkpoints we would drift along and lose our way. That's one reason why I hate the discussion to wipe out even more public holidays. That's dangerous in my eyes.

What will happen, when our time runs out. Will there be a place like Nangijala, where is still the time of campfires and legends and one adventure after the other takes place. That's what Astrid Lindgren tells us in her brilliant novel "the brothers Lionheart". If you die there, another place will be there for you. Somehow comforting, but on the other hand like a neverending story.

My grandpa Heinrich liked the idea that it's over when it's over. He wanted to be left in peace and didn't like the idea of reincarnation. Maybe that's what I tend to as well, but I have to admit that I'm not sure. Could be safety thinking, because it's courageous to believe in an absolute end of existence. A poem of my grandpa deals with death. Here it comes:

Im Lauf der Jahre wurde ich
ein dürres Blatt am Lebensbaum,
doch hab ich immer noch die Kraft,
zum losen Hang an meinem Zweig.
Behagt es mir wenn in der Früh
die Morgensonne scheint und mich erwärmt.
Die letzte Schwalbe mich umkreist,
nach Süden schon zum Flug bereit.
Ein Windhauch und mein Fall,
zu Staub.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Who wants to be E.T.? Or a millionaire?

Would you like to call somebody?

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Modern physiologies - Old age pensioner

The title of my post is like an oxymoron for me. Almost everybody seems to be a pensioner nowadays, now that we have more and more old people. My dad is a pensioner, my parents-in-law long to be pensioners, everybody older than 40 (me included) thinks about pension from time to time.
But on the other hand the German government has plans to fix the regular age for retirement at the age 0f 67. 67? That's ridiculous. The average age for retirement in Germany is about 60. There are tons of companies that do not employ people older than 50 years. So what the heck do they talk about 67? Well it's easy.
The one and only reason is that the social and especially the pension system in Germany is ill from head to toes. It lacks the money to maintain itself. Reasons:

- aging society
- high unemployment rates, especially of older and mal-educated people, but also and increasing young people at the beginning of their work life!
- system frauds (fictitious self-employed)
- system errors (non-system benefits)
- too many exceptions (civil servants, self-employed etc.)

Nobody thinks about retiring at the age of 67. But if you retire earlier you will get less money. Each and every year earlier means loss of money. That's the reason of the political plans. Save money. But that means doctoring the symptoms, not healing the wounds.

How much longer can we afford to throw older people out of work? That's a pervert system. They have to be integrated. Maybe the system of ever increasing salary has to be reformed and thought about. That's one of the main problems there are.

I'm a little angry that I pay a lot of money into a system from which I will not get too much money back in future times. But at the moment I have no other chance as an employee.

So pensioners enjoy your life. There will be harder times in the near future for all of us, but you are the winners right now. Everybody who has a job works like hell to make a living. You do not work to get a comparatively high pension, never to be obtained once more in the future. Is that not an oxymoron? Money for nothing (chicks for free come to my mind....).

For Dirk Fans like me