Friday, July 28, 2006

Men at work - our house will rise like a Phoenix (hopefully)

Now it's a fact. We we are the owners of our house, the keys are in our hands.
We can start next week to renovate, that's exciting.
We are looking forward to it, but of course it will not be easy.
Please cross fingers for us! I will have off the next three weeks and tear down walls, hopefully I can publish some pictures and stories from our building site.
Let's see what the colour of my hair will be in November. Bets are welcome!

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Wind of change- Remembrance of German reunification 1989/1990

I'm going to Erfurt today to visit a customer. This means I'm passing the former iron curtain north of Hof. Now it is only imaginary.
But 17 years ago it would have been very difficult. I only was in East Berlin once but I will always remember the grey and sad atmosphere and the strict customs check.
On of my friends from Vietnam flew from the Czech Republic (former Czechoslovakia) by train. He was hidden under a lid in the ceiling of the train. How thrilling and frightening this must have been. Imgaine he would have been caught.
Now he is the owner of a Restaurant and an Asian diner with a wife (who also flew the same way!) and two kids.
I remember the crowded highways (especially to and fro Berlin) after the reunification. I had to drive the highway number 9 (A9) frequently and it changed from empty to overcrowded over night. There were thousand of Trabants (nickname Trabbis) on the road. They had a small two-stroke engine with two cylinders and the were stinking like hell. But they are a myth or a least a faded myth. But this is another story to be told.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Heading to 10.000 with Delaware on my mind and vacation ahead

My visitor counter is increasing enourmously. I'm glad about this. Now I'm heading to 10.000.
I'm also heading to holiday. I'll be off for three weeks from next Monday on.
It won't be that much pleasure though, we will start renovating our house. But at least the project is starting and we are looking forward to moving in in late autumn / early winter.
Money is flowing in and mainly out of our account, that's amazing. I have cancelled the subscription of my finance magazine Finanztest. There won't be any money left to save. So who cares about interest rates at all?
Today I am grass widower, Tina and Emma are at Tina's parents. Maybe I'll go to the movies, I have forgot how that feels.
My music of the month: Sufjan Stevens' "Come on feel the Illinoise". Like the self-proclaimed "Spiderman" who climbed Chicago's Sears Tower with no harness, Sufjan Stevens scales dusty prairies, steel factories, and two hundred years of history in the second installment of his 50 State Project, "ILLINOIS", a 22-track anthematic tone poem to The Prairie State.
I hope for the 48 albums remaining. Sufjan is fabulous. At school we had to give a lecture on American states. Mine was Delaware, one of the smallest states. I wonder when Delaware will be on Sufjan's mind.
His first album was about Michigan. I'm dreaming of visiting the Great Lakes one day.
Maybe because of the weather. It is unbearably hot in Germany, I'm longing for water and rain.

Friday, July 21, 2006

In today's feuilletons - Declaration of war? Israel vs. Lebanon

Israeli writer Meir Shalev finds the Israeli reaction to Hizbullah's attacks justified, "but too many questions remain, raising suspicion and doubt.

There are too many attacks against civilians, there is no definition of the war objectives, and there is no definition of what would constitute a victory – that is, the end of the operation.
Is the point to secure the return of the captive soldiers?
Or the withdrawal of Hizbullah from Southern Lebanon?
And if yes – how far back do they have to pull back?
Or is the point to kill Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah?
Or the complete dissolution of Hizbullah?
Or is this really all about the fight against worldwide terror and the struggle against Syria and Iran?"

What kind of war is this to wage?
Is this the successor of the Iraque war, where nobody knew the reasons as well (besides the alleged weapons of mass destruction, used as an excuse)?
Is this the new policy of war? Just start it and look for legitimation later if at all. Make facts before anybody can rise his hand.
I think this is highly dangerous, considering the results. This means breeding new enemies in future times. Especially in religiously loaded territories.
Poor people in this region. They can choose between pest and cholera.
On one hand poor islamic fundamentalists (not accepted by the world public) and on the other hand jewish fundamentalists (who lost their head) hated by their neighbours.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Element of crime: Tour de France

I'm starting a new series today:

Element Of Crime vs. Element Of Decency.

That's the story about good or bad, black or white, devil or angel.
Zwei Herzen schlagen, ach, in meiner Brust. Two hearts are beating in my breast.
The story of good or bad is one of the neverending stories of mankind. Both sides can be interesting and thrilling. What drives people, animals or things to turn to one or the other side? I will think about it and write about it from time to time.

Element of crime: Tour de France

I'm following the stage of today on a live ticker at the moment. The American driver Floyd Landis is leading with about 8 minutes.
The same Floyd Landis that had a breakdown yesterday, when he has lost about 10 minutes and was left to rank 11th. He had led the Tour the day before........and will come back today?
So come on and tell me, that this is all because of water, pasta and vegetables.
Almost all favourites were eliminated before the Tour de France because of overwhelming doping suspects. That included the top favourites Ivan Basso and the German Jan Ullrich.
Floyd Landis came from the Discovery Channel team of Lance Armstrong to his present team Phonak. Yes, Lance Armstrong sevenfold winner and all time leader of victories of the Tour de France (1999-2005). But also burdened with massive allegations of drug use.

Professional cycling is inhuman and supernatural simultaneously. There are reasons to believe that it is impossible to win important races without doping.
But what a life is this to live? You have to ruin your health to become successfull?
But maybe that's the quintessence of professional sports as a whole. I know that is disenchanting. You are one step from prison................Element of crime!

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Famous Dutchmen (Germans) / Gone but not forgotten - Rudi Carell

Rudi Carell, one of Germany's most famous comedians is dead.

He was omnipresent on German T.V. so this is hard to believe. He came from the Netherlands (where he was born) to Germany, in the middle of the sixties.
He was adopted of his fans very fast and lived in Germany (near Bremen) since then.
He even favoured the German soccer team against the Dutch, when they played against each other. Otherwise he favoured the Dutch team.
He never gave up his Dutch nationality.

He was famous for:

  • Smoking (no wonder he died of lung cancer)
  • His Dutch accent he never lost (or wanted to lose)
  • His meticulous working style, he never left anything to chance. It is said that his humour was seldom spontaneously.
  • Being difficult and not always diplomatic
  • His never changing haircut.
He was the king of the T.V. weekend in the late seventies and early eighties, when he had big success with the formats "Am laufenden Band" (1974 - 1979) and later "Rudis Tagesshow" (1981 - 1987). It was the high time of the great Saturday evening entertainment, when the whole family gathered round the T.V. screen and the T.V. program determined the following conversation topics.
Not every project of the creative artist was successfull.
Let's not talk about his movies, and only one song remains in memory: "Wann wird's mal wieder richtig Sommer?" (1975).
Some of his shows are forgotten rightly, like "Die Post geht ab" (1993) or "Rudis Suchmaschine".
But all in all he was a T.V. visionary, an imaginative and successfull developer of formats.
We will never forget the fabulous single show "Herzblatt" (1987-1993), which remained on T.V. until this year. Six moderators followed him, but never reached him. And after the Saturday evening genre had almost died out (besides "Wetten, dass.....?"), he created a new forum with the satiric week retrospect "7 Tage 7 Köpfe", which he attended as moderator until 2002 and later as producer.

I saw him last on T.V. in February, a moving last show of strength, when he was awarded the "Goldene Kamera" for his lifework. With a weak voice he commented self-deprecating his cancer sickness and thanked the pharma industry for giving him the chance to be there.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Quo vadis Israel?

The current outbreak of violence demonstrates an extremely problematic similarity to the position of the Lebanese government and the Palestinian authority with respect to Israel. Both have two heads which contradict each other; one acts in a 'stately' way, meaning in a political framework and relatively moderately, the other considers itself free to act as it wishes. It is willing to use terror against civilians, engages a racist rhetoric and openly demands the elimination of Israel. This double game is one of the reasons it's so hard to reach a tenable agreement between Israel and its neighbours.

Is there still an influence of the moderate Arabic world? Can Europe have any influence? What about the U.S.? Mainly silence at the moment, when we neglect the statement of the G8 states and some diplomatic actions. Are we heading to war?
It is very questionable if violence can be reasonably answered with counterviolence. On the other no state wants to be open to blackmail. But who has to take the first step towards the opponent? Normally the aggressor. In my opinion this would be Lebanon.
But with the ongoing spiral of force Israel will not gain many friends in the Arabic world. It could lose sight of a goal worth fighting for. The situation is complex enough. Maybe ceasefire and start thinking wouldn't be the worst at the moment.

Oh what a week!

Amazing week it was last week. My blog seemed to rise out of a Sleeping Beauty Sleep. It was kissed by an iceberg. A cool breath I guess. Hopefully some of the reeders will remain. I would be very glad. So all of you out there, welcome to the pleasuredome! Stay tuned and hopefully you will not regret it. I will head for the 10.000th visitor. Bets are wellcome when this sound barrier will be broken................

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Over, over, the game is over - Germany is .........third

It's all over now baby blue. Now that it's over I wonder if we are in the Soccer World Championship 2006 blues.

Life seems to be unreal:

  • Still cars are driving around with their Germany flags
  • German fans showed huge emotions and celebrated like hell, noboby had expected this before
  • I turn on my T.V. in the evening but there is no soccer, I wonder why
  • Germany has become third and emerged to the ninth place of the world ranking (nineteenth place before)
    But our coach Jürgen Klinsmann quitted his job and now we have a Bundes-Jogi (nickname of the new coach Joachim Löw, former assistant coach)
  • Klinsmann said the is longing for more privacy and that he is burned out, probably he is still angry about unfair coverage before the championship
  • Zinedine Zidane was awarded for best player of the championship, the same player that knocked down Materazzi of Italy (see picture) with his head some minutes before penalty shooting in the final game; France lost, no wonder. Zidane would have been the best penalty shooter. Well has been, he retired
  • After the quarter finals it was a European Championship; Germany, Italy, France and Portugal remained
  • Miroslaw Klose (pretty "German" name) was awarded for best goalgetter (5 goals)
  • Only one African team overcame the first round. But Ghana lost the next game against Brazil (later defeated by France [sic], Zidane)
  • The next Soccer World Championship will take place in South Africa 2010

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Did the captain of the Titanic cry?

.............after he read my post about Robert Gernhardt?

The title of this post is from the song "Someday We'll Know" of the album" Maybe You've Been Brainwashed Too", the only album by the New Radicals. One of my favourite albums of all time.

What has happened?

The noted German satirical magazine Titanic has linked to my blog and referred to my post with a translation of some of Gernhardt's poems today.

This lead to more than 1.250 (!) visitors of my blog today, about 25% of the total number of visitors since the coming into existence of my blog.
I'm a little bit proud of course. The Blogger system must have been close before a breakdown.

Unfortunately nobody left a comment, but that seems to be a trend of my readers anyway. The last comment was written on the 6th of June. That's the weeping eye.

Anyway, a special day for me. All my statistics have exploded. The Gaussian distribution was overridden today. Caballio del diablo flew through choppy seas and dodged the iceberg.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Gone but not forgotten - Robert Gernhardt

Robert Gernhardt is dead. He died in Frankfurt at the end of June. That's so hard to believe. He has accompanied me the last years with his brilliant poems. They were comfort and joy for me.
Robert Gernhardt was one of Germany's most-loved poets. He was born in 1937 in Reval in Estonia, Gernhardt studied painting and German in Stuttgart and Berlin. From 1964 until his death he lived in Frankfurt, where he worked as writer, painter and caricaturist. His lively cross-genre publishing activities soon made him the leading figure of the "New Frankfurt School" of writers and artists behind the satirical magazine Pardon in the 1960s and 70s and after 1979, Titanic.
Here is a small selection of his poems translated into English by Ursula Runde, some of which have appeared in Poetry Magazine.

All about the artist
(Alles über den Künstler. In Lichte Gedichte, p. 87)

The artist skates on ice that's thin:
Creating art – straight for the bin?
The artist to his fate is blind:
Will he gain glory? Lose his mind?
The artist falls with end unknown.
Soared like a star? Dropped like a stone?

Last Call
(Ach. Lichte Gedichte, p. 206)

Right up to my final hour
I'll be obliging and polite.
Should I hear Death firmly knocking
I'll shout at once: come in! Alright?

What’s on the schedule? Is it dying?
Well, that’s something rather new.
But I’m sure that we can swing it,
showing them a thing or two.

What is this? Your hour glass?
Interesting! And good to grasp.
And the scythe is for grim reaping,
did you say? I’d thought I’d ask.

Which way should I turn from here?
To the left? From where you stand?
Well, alright then. To the graveyard?
Where I take my final hand?

Yes, the glass is out of sand now.
Oh, I see, you want it back.
May I ask you where you got it?
So unusual, all in black.

Is it antique? Oh well, whatever.
I only meant to ask, old chap –
What? No questions? No more talking?
That's fine by me. I'll shut my -

Not really, no
(Eigentlich nicht, Lichte Gedichte, p. 15)

It's not really a process of looking
when someone knows where something is.
It's not really a process of finding
when you find something you didn’t miss.
It's not really a process of loving
when you're holding to ransom your love.
It's not really a process of holding
when you drop her as push comes to shove.

Guarding my Body
(Siebenmal mein Körper)

My body is without defence,
how lucky it's got me.
I keep it warm in woollen cloth,
it gets it all for free.

My body's well provided for
with bread and wine and stews.
It never seems to get enough
and afterwards it spews.

My body does not what it's told,
it does what I may not.
I'm fond of pictures, music, words,
it just finds bodies hot.

My body turns out lots of things
like blood and sweat and tears.
I wash it, dry it, keep it neat
from toenails to the ears.

My body knows no common sense,
just greed and sloth and lust.
I watch it as it falls apart
and mend it in good trust.

My body hasn't thanked me yet,
it’s often hurting me.
I move it up the hill and down
and drive it to the sea.

My body never talks to me,
it has no social skill.
I pander to its slightest whim,
it’s waiting for the kill.

Friday, July 07, 2006

My second favourite fair: Wiesenfest in Selb

The Wiesenfest in Selb is an annual fair taking place in Selb, Germany. Selb is the town, where I grew up (in nearby Neuhaus/Eger) and went to school. It is located in the northern and very cold part of Bavaria, the Fichtelgebirge. Selb has about 17.000 inhabitants, the number is decreasing mainly because of structural problems in the porcelain industry. Selb is famous for its porcelain, e.g. the companies Hutschenreuther and Rosenthal were founded there.
The Wiesenfest starts every second weekend in July since 1830. The opening ceremony on Friday called "Bierprobe", which is carried out by the city's mayor sees many people gathering to watch the opening spectacle.
On Saturday and Sunday, the school children of Selb gather for sports (soccer and handball), dancing and games (special form of skittles (the ball is on a rope) and "Hahnenschlagen" which means destroying a flowerpot with a stick while being blinded by a scarf over the eyes).
There are various bands playing and all kind of food is offered (especially Kebab and Pizza, besides the typical German Bratwurst sausage and other barbecue food).
I go there every year to meet my former school buddies. I will start later today and take Emma with me to visit my parents. I'm looking forward to this event. There will also be the finals of the Soccer World Championship this weekend.
See you when you get there!

Monday, July 03, 2006

Man on the moon - German astronaut Thomas Reiter

Thomas Reiter of the European Space Agency (ESA) is the most famous German astronaut.

Personal data
Born 23 May 1958, in Frankfurt/Main, Germany, Thomas is married and has two sons. He enjoys fencing, badminton, cooking and playing the guitar.

Thomas Reiter has a Masters Degree in Aerospace Technology. He graduated from Goethe-High School in Neu-Isenburg in June 1977, from the Armed Forces University in Neubiberg in December 1982 and from the Empire Test Pilots School (ETPS) in Boscombe Down, England, in December 1992.

After completion of military jet training at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, Thomas Reiter flew the Alpha-Jet in a fighter-bomber squadron based in Oldenburg, Germany. He was involved in the development of computerized mission planning systems and became a flight-operations officer and deputy squadron commander. After completing the test-pilot training Class 2 at the German flight test center in Manching during 1990, Reiter was involved in several flight test projects and conversion training on the Tornado the following year. Reiter attended the Class 1 test pilot training at ETPS, Boscombe Down, in 1992. His flight experience includes more than 2300 hours in military combat jet aircraft of more than 15 types.
Thomas Reiter was also involved in European Space Agency (ESA) studies of a manned space vehicle (Hermes) and development of equipment for the Columbus module, one of Europe’s main contributions to the International Space Station.
In 1992, he was selected to join ESA’s Astronaut Corps, based at the European Astronaut Centre (EAC) in Cologne, Germany. After completing basic training, Reiter was selected for the Euromir 95 mission and started training at TsPK (Cosmonauts Training Centre) in Star City near Moscow in August 1993, preparing for onboard-engineer tasks, extra-vehicular activities and operations of the Soyuz transportation system. The Euromir 95 experiment training was organized and mainly carried out at EAC.
In March 1995, he was assigned as on-board engineer for the Euromir 95 mission, a record-breaking 179 days on ESA's Euromir 95 mission (3 September 1995 until 29 February 1996) with two spacewalks (EVAs).
Between October 1996 and July 1997, Reiter underwent training on Soyuz-TM spacecraft operations for de-docking, atmospheric re-entry and landing. He was awarded the Russian ‘Soyuz Return Commander’ certificate, which qualifies him to command a three-person Soyuz capsule during its return from space.
Furthermore, he performed collateral duties in the ERA-team of ESA, which is developing the European Robotic Arm and its ground based test- and mission control equipment.
From September 1997 to March 1999, Reiter was detached to the German Air Force as Operational Group Commander of a Tornado fighterbomber wing. After his return to ESA he gave support to the ATV team and the ERA programme. He continued training at the Russian Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City from June 1999 until March 2000 for the Russian Segments of the International Space Station.
Within the Directorate of Human Spaceflight and Exploration he was working the last three years in the Columbus programme.

Spaceflight experience
ESA-Russian Euromir 95 mission to the Mir Space Station, along with Russian colleagues Yuri Gidzenko and Serguei Avdeev. Reiter was assigned as on-board engineer for the record-breaking 179 days mission (3 September 1995 until 29 February 1996). He performed some 40 European scientific experiments and participated in the maintenance of the Mir space station. He performed two spacewalks (EVAs) to install and later retrieve cassettes of the European Space Exposure Facility experiments (ESEF).
On 1 April 1999 he resumed his activities at the European Astronaut Centre, Cologne, Germany.

Current assignment
Since April 2001 he is assigned to the first ISS advanced training class to prepare for one of the first European long-term flights on-board ISS.
In September 2004, Thomas Reiter was assigned to a long duration mission to the International Space Station and will fly aboard Discovery on Space Shuttle mission STS-121, currently targeted for July 2006. He will return to Earth aboard the Shuttle mission STS-116 or a Russian Soyuz.

For Dirk Fans like me