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| 2023 | one thought at a time |
This is the archived copy of my 2023 micro blog, which I started on January 1, 2023. The current one you can find here.
12 | December
31 | Happy New Year! As has been customary for years now (my wife is NOT a fan of this procedure), we drove to the tax office not far from here and took a photo of me putting my tax return forms into the tax office mailbox. Interestingly - and funnily enough - we weren't the only people there doing that.Summary: 2023: This year was a tough one. I went into early retirement for health reasons (and after weeks of convoluted calculations, financially it was also a more than smart decision) and hoped that I could just sit back and relax. Then my dad died. Then my mom's health started to decline. Then I broke three toes shortly before our planned summer vacation. And, and, and. In the end, I'm happy we made it out alive at the end of a long and dark tunnel.On the positive side, I have had a lot more quality time for myself and, more importantly, with my wife, who still has to work a ton (but is very pleased with her new school, the fabulous choir, etc.), we were able to enjoy our new place of residence and we managed to settle in here nicely (although we are still not finished with setting it up completely).Next year still has a few stumbling blocks lined up for us, but I hope things will ease up to a level that is comfortable for both of us.Still, my health problems call for several surgeries etc. next year, starting anytime between February and April.So, stay tuned ...Note: This micro diary will be archived in the next few days and the one for 2024 will raise its head soon.
30 | For nearly 30 years now, I completed my tax declaration forms a few days before a period of four years elapsed. Reason? Despite regulations that tried to nullify the law, the government still has to pay interest rates on the money they owed me for the respective four-year period (my grandfather used to say: "The interest payment will cover beers for the next many months" ... which they have, every single time). So, I sat down today and finished my tax return forms for 2019.
29 | As we are heading into 2024: "Tesla engineer attacked by robot at company’s Giga Texas factory, report says." Fun times ahead.
28 | After countless years of trying, we managed to come to a satisfactory solution with my mom. Let's see if that will work within the next 6 to 12 months. I'll write about it here when the time comes.
27 | Today would have been my dad's 91st birthday. Many years ago, we bought him a "Happy Hour Bell" (an old ship's bell from Denmark) to ring in drinks at 18:00. I recorded myself ringing the bell and in Bonn, in Aurich (nortthern Germany) and Herning (Denmark), we all had a drink or two on my dad in rememberance.
26 | We're off to Bonn today to visit my mom, who is sitting in a comparatively large house by herself. Together with her, we also want to decide what we can do to help, support or move her to another place in 2024.
25 | After an early choir performance today, we visited my wife's parents for a relaxing cozy afternoon. Cookies & tea + sparkling wine + taking a deep breath = relaxation.
24 | Merry Christmas! For the first time in years (decades), we opted for a Christmas Raclette instead of a three-course meal because my wife performed with the "Bachchor Karlsruhe" (German website) two hours before dinner time. Websites tell you that Raclette is a typical German Christmas dinner, for us it never was. But ... it was really good.
23 | Christmas shopping was relatively easy this year. We live in an area today where people don't fall over each other in supermarkets and shops.
22 | For me it's almost too long ago, but my wife had her last day of school today. I vaguely remember what a relief it was, after the stress of the weeks leading up to the holidays, to know thzat you ghave two weeks off.
21 | How quickly time passes. András Schiff turned 70 today. I have tons of classical piano music and Schiff has always been one of my absolute favorites. Check out his "Lecture on the Bach Partitas" (1 hour and 33 minutes long) which is just one example of how deeply knowledgeable and brilliantly good the guy is.
20 | Only a few days until Christmas. Somehow, it still feels like weeks away. This year, my wife is also going to perform with her choir on the 24th and 25th, so along with an afternoon at her parents' place on the 25th and us travelling to Bonn to see my mom for a few days on the 26th, we don't really have much time left to enjoy much time at home.
19 | Just in case you haven't noticed, I'm a huge fan of Rick Beato, someone who definitely knows what he is talking about and because of that can get people to open up in interviews.Two are new: "Andy Summers: His Career With The Police and Iconic Guitar Style" is not as revealing as I had hoped (maybe I've watched to many interviews with Summers), but "Michael Beinhorn: Producing Soundgarden, RHCP, Korn, Soul Asylum..." is a real gem once again. Tons of absolutely fascinating detail and a lot of new information (for me). Highly recommended!
18 | Yep, "Zombie Scrolling".
17 | If you can access it, "1,374 Days - My Life with Long Covid" is a fascinating/depressing read.
16 | We spent nearly 3000 Euro on a new (very good) washing machine & dryer combo today. Prices certainly ain't what they used to be.
15 | It had to happen one day and I hope they can fix it, but ... "NASA's Voyager probe stopped communicating. There's no quick fix.".
14 | If you read one article about books and the problems of the publishing industry, "The Long Shadow of ‘American Dirt’" is the one I would recommend.
13 | I really hate everything about leaf blowers, especially the laziness and the noise, but ... link.
12 | Another 12 days to Christmas. My wife is busy with a truckload of tests and I have tons of stuff to do as well, for example organizing a new washing machine and dryer because ours, of course, decided to die ... 12 days before Christmas.
10 | More than well-deserved: Bernie Taupin's Induction Ceremony into the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame, 2023.
09 | All good things eventually come to pass: "‘Led Zeppelin IV’ Cover Photo Mystery Man Finally Identified 52 Years after Album’s Release".
08 | Denny Laine passed away on December 5th. Because I consider "London Town" to be one of the best albums I have, I've probably listened to him more times than anyone else, especially because he wasn't only a founding member of Wings but also "The Moody Blues". P.S.: Let's hope that Paul McCartney, who apparently hates the album, will get around to releasing the archive version of "London Town" in the next two to three decades. I'm not giving up hope.
07 | I found a link on my PC from ages ago when cleaning up, "Math teacher receives Presidential Award for Excellence." Phyllis Hillis was the first teacher when I moved to Copenhagen, Denmark, who (as math and homeroom teacher in my first year at CIS) helped me steer into a different and much better direction from day one. I have very fond memories of her. A great teacher.
06 | It's that time of year again. One of my favorite tracks that I first listened to ages ago, very late at night/early in the morning, on a Copenhagen alternative radio station that I used to tune into. If you ask me why I like this track, I can't really tell you. It must have been my mood at the time, the distorted sound, the lyrics ... "They killed a tree of 97 years and smothered it in lights and silver tears ... It's Christmas." Tbat song always catches up with me by the beginning of December the latest.
05 | Sometimes I'm amazed about what is available on YouTube. "The Rainbow - A Documentary About the Historic Rainbow Bar on Hollywood's Sunset Strip" (directed by Zak Knutson) is as much a documentary about the music scene with its ups and downs from the 1970s (and before) until today as it is about the Sunset Strip, the Whisky A Go Go, Mario Maglieri, and Miguel (the Chef), plus a ton of other people to whom it is (or was) a home away from home. Watch it before it disappears.
04 | I found this Bluesky quote by someone named Dare Obasanjo, which is spot-on: "I feel like my generation experienced peak internet and we're now on a downward trend. Google search sucks. You can't trust Amazon ratings. Twitter & Reddit are at war with their users. Every useful news site is paywalled and every garbage one is free. [...]"
03 | I've made it my goal to have my name flown all over our solar system before I kick the bucket. Next up, in October of 2024, it's going to travel to Jupiter’s moon Europa on NASA's Europa clipper. Wanna join in?
02 | I don't really care about Elon Musk one way or another, but watching him handle his "baby" (Twitter/X) is like being entranced by a subpar Netflix show.
01 | To start off the Christmas season, here's a gallery of photos taken at a German couple's house who call 555 Christmas trees and close to 108.000 Christmas baubles their own. A world record + probably an insane headache every single evening when all of it is lit up.
11 | November
30 | Rick Beato published another fascinating interview (watch Joe Bonamassa slowly shed his insecurities and warm to the moment): "Joe Bonamassa: His Influences, Technique, and Soloing Style."
29 | This one is old, but fascinating (I first thought it was actually exotic jewellery): "Man Finds An Incredible Beetle Who's Almost Too Stunning To Be Real".
28 | We started decorating for Christmas today. Time is just passing too fast. Another year gone. From my perspective, most of this year sucked royally, but I hope the Christmas season will bring some peace & quiet. Just in time, the temperatures are supposed to drop massively these next two to three days and, for the first time in many years, we might even get some substantial snow. Here's to hopin' ...
29 | I've been on a Cal Tjader run lately, consuming just about everything (including his shopping list) that he ever released. It's mostly 1950s and 1960s music, some of it might even be categorized as "elevator music", but I just love that "touch" he had. Tjader " [...] was an American Latin Jazz musician, often described as the most successful non-Latino Latin musician. He explored other jazz idioms, especially small group modern jazz, even as he continued to perform music of Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America."
28 | The days have been grey, dark and rainy for weeks now ... time to set up our Christmas tree once again to get some light into this place.
27 | Just in case it might concern you, "Google Will Start Deleting Old Accounts This Week. Here's How to Save Your Google Account."
26 | The other day I found this photo, taken at the FDP party conference in 1974.It shows my dad (left; then Federal business manager of the FDP, the country's liberal party) along with ...(01) Werner Maihofer (Minister of the Interior 1974-1978);(02) Hans-Dietrich Genscher (Federal Minister of the Interior from 1969 to 1974, Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs and Vice Chancellor of Germany from 1974 to 1992);(03) Walter Scheel (Federal Minister of Economic Cooperation and Development from 1961 to 1966, President of the Federal Republic of Germany from 1974 to 1979, leader of the FDP from 1968 to 1974, Federal Minister of Foreign Affairs and Vice Chancellor under Willy Brand, and acting Chancellor of West Germany from 7–16 May 1974, following Brandt's resignation after the Guillaume Affair);(04) Hildegard Hamm-Brücher (state secretary positions from 1969 to 1972 and 1977 to 1982, as well as the Free Democratic Party's candidate in the first two rounds of the federal presidency elections in 1994);(05) Wolfgang Mischnick (Federal Minister for Expellees, Refugees and War Victims, Chairman of the FDP parliamentary group from 1968 to 1991, and opposition leader in 1968/69).
25 | I hate these reviews gushing about Dolly Parton's new album, "Rockstar". Ear cancer doesn't even begin to describe it. We've had the same thing in Germany with some "Schlager" guy suddenly recording Rammstein when he turned 70 or 80 (click the link at your own risk). And Rod Stewart's foray into the great "American Songbook"? All of the above are absolutely cringeworthy ... at best.
24 | "Internet Artifacts". A fun website. Lots of memories.
23 | I don't remember who coined the term "Internet of Shit", but whenever I read news items like the following one, I'm happy that I always refrained from getting tied up in some sort of "100% secure, forever available, etc." bullshit: "This smart garage door controller is no longer very smart."
22 | I've been in retirement for close to a year now, but I still closely follow developments within the German educational system. Besides everything having been in shambles forever, digitalization has been a pet peeve of mine since the the middle 1990s. The people in charge just cannot get anything whatsoever right. In the beginning of this month, news hit the Web that students shortly before their final exams (A-levels, IB, whatever) lost every single bit of their notes because the city administrator hit a wrong button. For students, an absolutely devastating development. The people in charge just shrugged it off. It's been like that since 1994. Nothing whatsoever has changed.
21 | "The Inter typeface family", one of the absolutely greatest available Open Type free fonts, has been updated. That thing is just snazzy.
20 | Our local supermarket has an excellent wine department (a rare thing in German supermarkets) with someone who really knows what he's doing. Many wines we needed years of travelling around our wine regions to find were readily available there before we even moved here. Regularly, the proprietor sorts out wines that need to be consumed soon and in those thrown-together crates, I've found a veritable treasure trove of wines I had never heard about previously, usually reduced by at least 30%. The latest one, "Edition Fischer Pescatus" is an affordable white wine (Cuvée) which doesn't fit our usual profile but, probably because of that, is a) affordable and b) just very good (with dinner, not as an "appetizer").
19 | I have an odd sense of humour. "I Want to Break Free" is just up my alley.
18 | Yes, I do consult websites, reviews and forums before I watch movies and TV shows, especially because of the declining quality I've experienced these past many years. "The Decomposition of Rotten Tomatoes" delves into problems with these kinds of review sites. "The most overrated metric in movies is erratic, reductive, and easily hacked — and yet has Hollywood in its grip." Recommended reading.
16 | When I ran my old websites (mostly livingwithmusic.com and deus62.com, but also others) on WordPress, of course I made backups of what I published. The problem is that I cannot remember which plugin I used to do so and therefore cannot restore a single byte without endless hassle. So, I have resorted to using "Wayback Machine" to "extract" old posts in "raw" format. Better than nothing.
15 | Wage development just hasn't been in step with price increases for ages now. The result here in Germany is that we are facing a(nother) "hot" winter with strikes across the board. The first "warning" ones are starting today and we are going to be facing some severe disruptions right into Christmas.
14 | My wife has been sick for an entire week with a nasty case of the flu and, of course, no matter what we tried, I got sick as well. I don't think there is a single virus I haven't caught in the past 40 years. And if I didn't, it probably wasn't worthwhile in the first place.
13 | Anyone surprised, really? "Google pays a total of $26 billion for its default contracts." Touted as the latest big "reveal", I was surprised it is only $26 billion.
12 | "Prime Day" and/or "Black Friday" are just around the corner and since I ditched Amazon Prime, I couldn't care less anymore. All the other companies' mails that announced drastic price reductions were kicked to the curb as well. I haven't even glanced at a single one. Into the trash can they went, all of them.
11 | Two of my favorite compilations, the "red" and the "blue" Beatles collections, have gotten a 2023 upgrade with new mixes and some additional tracks. The problem is that there really is nothing on the sleeves to indicate the new mixes or origins of the past mixes. I wouldn't be surprised in the least if these new versions were the only ones available from here on. Another example of revisionism.
10 | Interesting: "I built a trading bot that buys stocks that are being bought by politicians. The market has been flat during the same time period." Not a total surprise, really.
09 | It's been raining extensively here for quite a while now. Maybe we should introduce "monsoon" into the German weather forecasts from now on. Here, for a couple of years now, western winds have brought precipitation to no end later in the year, usually at above-average temperatures.
08 | I'm presently going through my entire collection of "Chronological Classics". I think I have them all.
07 | Some powers in Germany actually tried to kick "double jeopardy" to the curb. I'm glad our Supreme Court put a stop to any of those attempts.
06 | This is a book I'd really like to have but, despite the wonderful production value, it's simply too expensive for me.
05 | Yep! Rick Beato comments on "Rolling Stones' Idiotic Top 250 Guitar Players List". I would have added "ridiculously" to the "idiotic" in that title.
04 | Another all-time favourite, Spyro Gyra's "Old San Juan". I bought the LP when I moved back to Germany from Denmark and that one song (plus, of course, the entire album with such classic numbers as "Last Exit", "Oasis", "Incognito" and "Soho Mojo") was the soundtrack to the first few weeks I spent back "home".
03 | As you all know, I'm a huge Queen fan. My favorite song though is one that doesn't even feature Freddie Mercury, "Sleeping on the Sidewalk". Mercury wasn't even close to the studio when it was recorded. Written and sung by Brian May, it's just a simple blues shuffle that was recorded live in the studio without the use of separation panels, separate cubicles, etc. Just the Queen "trio" sitting/standing around in a circle, recording straight to tape. Brian May tried to fiddle with the first take for quite a while and then just returned to the original recording because it captured the sound just the way he wanted to have it. It's not hit material and was rarely performed live, but I have listened to it a million times ... and more.
02 | Tomorrow we'll be off to Bonn for a couple of days to check up on my mom. She's not doing well at all anymore. P.S.: I'm going to post two posts "ahead" because I'm not going to be here and won't have time to post anything while with my mom.
01 | Deceptive (a.ka. "dark") patterns are everywhere nowadays. So much so that there's even an excellent website dedicated to them: Deceptive Design. Have a look at the various types of "dark patterns" that exist, including examples. I'm sure you'll recognize most - if not all - of them.
10 | October
31 | Interesting, but not really relevant for me anymore: "Here’s a rare look at Google’s most lucrative search queries".
30 | By the way, these past weeks I had to get more teeth pulled and now have to wait three to four months for things to heal before renovation can begin in earnest.
29 | All these social networks really don't know what to do with themselves anymore: "Facebook and Instagram launch a paid ad-free subscription". If they all go belly-up, it wouldn't bother me one bit.
28 | Oh, really? What a surprise. "X is officially worth less than half of what Elon Musk paid for it".
27 | Looks like "WeWork" is also heading out the door: "WeWork plans to file for bankruptcy as early as next week"
26 | Already decades ago I thought this might be the way to go, but now there are at least organized efforts to reach the goal: "Open-access reformers launch next bold publishing plan". The idea is to "[...] publish all versions of an article and its associated peer-review reports openly from the outset."
25 | In regard to a post two days ago re the magazines I have been reading for decades now, in Germany tons of them are filing for Chapter 11 and/or are disappearing over night. I just read an article about some magazines I read that have lost 90% of their readership in the last one or two years. Even their ePaper versions have not caught on.
24 | "Why a 'hologram revolution' could be on the way." When I read about the success of Abba's virtual "Voyage" with digital avatars performing, I started wondering when all of this would start to take off on a broader scale. Not yet, apparently, but more and more single events and installations are beginning to show up.
23 | I don't know about you, but all of my life I have been a voracious reader. I've been known to read the back of cereal packages in detail if nothing else was or is available. These past many years (no idea when they started popping up) I've collected a huge pile of so-called "bookazines", according to Collins' dictionary a "[...] glossy illustrated publication with features of a book and a magazine.". What I like about them is that they serve up bite-sized reading for those who constantly read when they have a bit of time off. Examples? "All About History", "Bringing History to Life", "History of War", "Uncut's Ultimate Music Guides", "Classic Rock Specials", etc. 99% of what I have is published in the UK and I always eagerly await new releases.
22 | I've never really been a huge fan of the Stones but lately I have been listening a lot to the albums from their so-called "Golden Era", roughly from the end of the 1960s to the middle of the 1970s ... and I'm likin' 'em. Talking about coming late to the game.
21 | WinCatalog has been my life saver for ages now. I love those kinds of independently programmed and maintained programs that just get the job done spectacularly well. If you have lots of external hard drives, WinCatalog will help you keep track of every single byte that's stored on them.
20 | Carla Bley passed away on October 17. She was 87. I'm more than 20 years younger and don't think I'll make it that far. Her music wasn't always my cup of tea, but all of it had a major impact, was both fun and - at times - infuriatingly different, and the world was and is a better place because of her and her musical ideas.
19 | Around here, the seasons have disappeared. For the past few years it felt like we went directly from winter into summer and back again. But then again, we've had these odd warm phases lately that just pop up. The other week, we had the warmest October day since any weather data were recorded. It just proves (to me) that a good Cuba Libre is now appropriate any time of the year.
18 | Elmo is having his day again. He's speculating about shutting down X/Twitter in Europe to avoid legal problems. He himself said that the news item was "fake news", but I wouldn't put that kind of thing past him. The guy is an absolutely insecure person who doesn't know shit from Shinola when it comes around to keeping his peculiar idea of "free speech" alive. The world would be a better place if X/Twitter just disappeared.
17 | As usual, I highly recommend Nick Beato's youtube channel. Beato conducted another series of absolutely excellent interviews. You're missing out if you don't watch them in their entirety:(01) The Yngwie Malmsteen Interview
(02) Dominic Miller Wrote The Most Famous Riff Of All Time
(03) Kirk Hammett Reflects On His Career In Metallica
(04) In The Room With Pantera's Brown, Wylde & Benante
16 | So far, I've had to get 7 teeth pulled and feel like I have none left. In a year or so the whole thing should be renovated to perfection (finally, my insurance will need to shell out what I paid in these past four decades). Maybe I'll finally have that "white smile" then, despite all of the tobacco and a trillion tea leaves. Or not.
15 | I'm trying to get thousands of magazines and books in *.pdf-format that I have collected these past years/decades onto my Samsung S8 Ultra. Getting them on there is absolutely no problem, but finding an app for Android that can actually handle such a mass of printed material is really difficult. Most apps are seriously lacking in the library management department. The best one is MoonReader (Pro), but it still seems to be programmed for people who have only a few books on hand. That's the 21st century for you.
14 | We spent some time downtown today because Karlsruhe has city-wide festivities this weekend to attract people to the city center. What we noticed (once again) is that, apparently, most Germans are totally happy if they get to choose between 34 food trucks that offer either burgers or fries. We were not. Boring.
13 | Israel. As expected, and if you know me you knew I would write this, the majority ran out into the streets chanting "But ... Palestine!". Sickening. I'm about THIS close to turning off the Internet altogether and living my life far away from all these completely uneducated and knee-jerk imbeciles that simply don't care about or know anything whatsoever.
11 | I'm listening to the most recent "Dark Side of The Moon" remaster (2023) and, again, the difference in sound quality is absolutely marginal. There are too many people on this planet who think that they can hear fleas cough. Audiophiles are often absolutely insufferable.
10 | At local supermarkets, inflation, as everywhere else, has been shrinking packages and increasing prices. I've made it a habit not to buy these kinds of deceptive packages anymore, ever. I really don't care if my refusal has any effect. I just don't touch the respective company's products anymore.
09 | "Yo-Yo Ma plays Bach's Cello Suite No. 1 in the Great Smoky Mountains." [Again, via kottke.org.]
08 | My dad used to have a pen friend, someone he had met decades ago and stayed in touch with since then. When my dad passed away this April, I wrote to said person and let him know. He answered that his last friend had died and ... continued the exchange he had kept up with my dad ... with me. I'm really enjoying it because it is an extremely knowledgeable person who had quite the career.
07 | I (finally) cancelled Amazon prime. Whatever additional value it used to have went down the drain these past 12 months.
06 | It's absolutely amazing what artificial intelligence can do nowadays. I refuse to spend too much time with it. Mark my words: five years from now a trillion jobs will have become obsolete.
05 | Today, if you sign up for any service whatsoever online, you will instantly be bombarded with Emails. Almost every website lets you sign up and then automatically assumes that you would simply love to have at least one newsletter per hour. Once signed up, you need to log in and turn off a million things just to get your former life back. Deceptive patterns and all of that. Asshats. The Internet is ruined.
04 | We have tons of beer left over from recent festivities at our place. Besides the odd mug here or there (usually down in Bavaria), I haven't had any beer whatsoever since I moved into this region more than 30 years ago. Currently, I'm beginning to develop a taste for it again. Germany knows how to brew it.
03 | I just came across this news item now, but it shows the disdain of many people nowadays for anything others might enjoy. "Stump of the felled Sycamore Gap tree is 'healthy and could be used to grow new shoots', National Trust claims - but experts warn it will 'never be the same again' after senseless attack"
02 | Dying in the 21st century is different from the time before social networks arrived. As I wrote on Instagram, a great drum teacher and altogether highly influential personality passed away, Dom Famularo, a person everyone in the community was touched by at some point. He was able to leave some last words for everyone to read, very shortly before he passed away.
01 | It's October already and we still have around 26 degrees Celsius out there. My favorite weather service also tells me that up until next weekend, with a short interruption, it's supposed to stay this way. Three cheers for the climate crisis!
09 | September
30 | It was my wife's birthday today and we had around 20 guests to celebrate the day with. I myself got to know a number of her new colleagues who are all very nice and fun to talk to. Lots of laughs and a great evening. P.S.: Because most guests arrived by car (also from afar), we now have plenty of excellent wine left for us to consume at leisure.
29 | In his "An Open Letter to Taylor Swift", Ted Gioia sums up perfectly what's wrong with the music business today, but asking Taylor Swift for help seems more than naive to me (aside from getting exposure for his thoughts).
28 | Just what we needed: "Scientists intrigued by drug that mimics the effects of exercise in mice."I can already see at least 1 billion people waddling to their doctors to get a prescription.
27 | "First responder deaths from post-9/11 illnesses nearly equals number of firefighters who died that day.""[...] Exposure to the dust at the World Trade Center has been tied to heightened risk of cardiovascular disease among firefighters who responded to the scene. Additionally, respiratory disease and thousands of cancer diagnoses have been linked to the toxic pollutants released during the attacks. [..]"
26 | We took another wine tour to "Weingut Klein" a few days ago and bought a couple of cases. We didn't check while they were loaded into the trunk of our car and yesterday we noticed they had forgotten one case of sparkling wine (of the expensive kind). Wrote them a mail yesterday and today, barely 16 hours later, the missing case was delivered to our front door. That's service!
25 | This is the reason why I'm hardly ever an early adopter: "New iPhone 15 Pro Max is overheating to the point 'you can’t even hold it'."
24 | My brother is stopping by from Denmark this upcoming Thursday, it's my wife's birthday soon and on Saturday we're going to have around 20 guests. Exciting week.
23 | I haven't gotten anywhere in regard to getting a new PC. Too many choices, too many possibilities and a jungle of hardware options I still need to sift through.
22 | This is becoming utterly insane: "2SLLGBTQI+".
21 | The 21st century, in a nutshell: "Jann Wenner Fallout Continues as Book Publisher Cancels Promotional Events." Never liked the guy, really, but everything he said and wrote previously is conveniently ignored by the enraged mob, which is collectively foaming at the mouth ... as usual. Pretty soon, we're going to run around nude again and growl at each other.
20 | Almost exactly one year ago I was sitting in my old apartment getting ready to move to my current one. I recall the shitload of work I was facing while I was still teaching on a day-to-day basis.That's all in the past now and there's one thing that is certain: I love living at my new place. I'm sitting on our penthouse roof terrace while writing this, looking across the landscape (with the Black Forest in the distance) and am enjoying every second of it.It took forever last year to secure this new apartment but, in retrospect, it was absolutely worth the effort.If I don't drop dead tomorrow, there will be plenty of time left to enjoy the new accommodations and the surroundings.
19 | Ages ago I mass-produced webpages using all kinds of tricks that went out the window with the arrival of CSS (cascading style sheets). I was also active in the movement which tried to get browser manufacturers to "play nice". They never did and today things are a more screwed up than ever. This article, "A (more) Modern CSS Reset" gives you an idea as to how difficult it has become to tame whatever is out there.
18 | In the late 1990s I lost a few teeth after cancer surgery and needed to have other things done to my teeth. Now it turns out that the one dentist I frequented at the time screwed everything up. Altogether, with the ones already pulled these last weeks, I need to have at least another three removed. Sucks, especially because the whole "renovation" procedure will take nearly one full year from today.
17 | These last few weeks I rewatched "Narcos" and "Narcos: Mexico" for the 5th or 6th time. It's one of my absolute favorites.Whenever people ask me what I like about the series, I always have difficulties explaining what it is in every detail, but in the end it comes down to a fascinating story, the mix of documentary and fictional elements, the language mix of both English and Spanish and, especially (!), a whole string of really excellent actors that carry the entire series.Of course, actors like Wagner Moura, Pedro Pascal and Michael Peña I already knew, but I was fascinated by the fabulous work of José María Yazpik, Alberto Ammann, Julio Cesar Cedillo, Mayra Hermosillo and Joaquín Cosio, as well as Diego Luna, Maurcie Compte and a very long list of others that filled out their roles perfectly. It's always a real joy watching all of these fine actors work.P.S.: In my eyes, season 3 of "Narcos: Mexico" was a misstep and felt tacked-on, despite the excellent acting. Very unfortunate.
16 | I rarely ever agree with IMDB reviews left by often disgruntled or opinionated viewers. But I'm going to quote one because I thought "A Million Miles Away" was a great little film.As a teacher I've seen lots of young people struggle against all kinds of odds and what the reviewer saw in the film, I saw as well:"All of the jaded professional critics who have heaped faint praise, that A Million Miles Away is wholesome but 'failed to launch,' because AMMA follows too many biopic tropes, are all caucasians - who have less than zero direct experience with the immigrant/migrant experience.One or two of these critics have a pedantic grasp of racial and cultural discrimination in the USA, but absolutely nothing directly heartfelt, let alone experienced on the receiving side of matters . [...]Hernandez's many repeated apologies to his father, face-to-face & via mutually loved proxies, for costing his father (Julio Cesar Cedillo) a life-aspirational Matomoros homestead isn't a trope. It's Hernandez's respect for his father's non-storybook sacrifice of a triumphant return to a much loved homeland. Papa chose permanent sojournership. Hernandez knows where he comes from and recognizes/respects every sacrifice made out of love. [...].I know, deep in my heart & bones, what those moments look, sound & feel like. They're always quiet, to the pont of understatement, but they are decisively pivotal. They're on full display in AMMA [...]."
15 | We spent a day in Mannheim today in wonderful weather. Mannheim is only a little further away from here than Karlsruhe but offers a lot more shopping choices, many of which we still need to discover. We'll be there much more often in the future.
14 | I need a new PC. This weekend I'm going to start looking for one by asking around in the three forums I frequent on a daily basis, hoping people there can help me with more detailed advice. After decades of having stayed on top of the game, these last many months I started to get lost in the dense Intel/AMD jungle of processors and the variety of massive graphics cards that you can, today, use to power a truck or fire up your BBQ.
13 | Lately, I've been reading up on the "shoplifting crisis" in places like San Francisco (anything nicked below $950 is a misdemeanour in California and hence left to the shop owners to take care of) and it is surprising to see how many politicians are trying to downplay it all by saying "there is no problem" (citing half-assed statistics which tell them exactly what they want to find there). Apparently neither homelessness nor poverty are prevailing problems either. One thing that has become more than obvious though is that racists are profiting massively from the situation.
12 | If you were/are a member of "X" (formerly known as "Twitter") and have an open second account (meaning ... nobody blocked, nothing done to limit your timeline), which I do, you have probably noticed that it has become the worst of all conspiracy theories/racist/misogynistic networks of all time.The whole thing is just so absolutely disgusting and repulsive that I'm at a loss to find words for its current state.If this social network symbolizes and/or represents the current state of the 21st century, which I suspect it does, it doesn't give me any hope at all.P.S.: I know people will disagree, but Elon Musk is an absolutely despicable human being.
11 | We've had around 30 degrees Celsius here every single day for an entire week or more now, in September. These are solid summer temperatures. I love this weather, especially because it cools down nicely at night, but the climate around here is becoming increasingly freakish.
10 | I sometimes wonder what should/will happen to my digital media collections and uncountable digital files that I have invested hundreds - if not thousands - of hours into.Lately, I've tried to work my way into a topic which for succeeding generations will probably become increasingly prominent: "digital inheritance".
09 | As it turns out, whatever health problems I have started attacking single teeth, not from the top down but from the bottom up. Plus, a former dentist I used to frequent apparently wasn't as good as I had thought. So, I've had to get two teeth pulled and one more might follow this week. Then I will have to wait approximately three months to get things renovated properly. Thank God for my private insurance which, so far, has covered everything. The costs are absolutely staggering.
08 | I rewatched "20 Feet from Stardom" again today, a 2014 Academy Award winner for "Best Documentary Feature"."The film follows the behind-the-scenes experiences of backup singers and stars Darlene Love, Judith Hill, Merry Clayton, Lisa Fischer, Tata Vega, and Jo Lawry, among many others." (Wikipedia)In the past, I have often found myself repeatedly looking up background singers and just the other day, I read up on Jo Lawry again, a singer with a spectacular voice, a voice which has often been on display at Sting concerts since around 2009.Without those countless singers, 50% of the music I have - and I have lots - would never have achieved the acclaim it has.
07 | Most of us who work(ed) there were aware of it, of course, but from around 2019 onwards, my former school, "Europa-Gymnasium", finally made headlines as a fine example of "brutalist architecture".In earlier years, the administration kept a lid on this fact because renovations would have been more complicated, but, in 2019, our then headmaster consciously "tolerated" the "discovery" to prevent renovations which would/could have altered the building's integrity.Interestingly enough, it is the extension of the building (1974) which made the headlines rather than the original one (1968).Today, the whole ensemble is a heritage-protected one, although the students certainly would prefer a different one with a more modern approach, less gray, more white, more light, etc.The following websites are in German, but the photos give you a good impression of the building:(01) "INTERVIEW: Gregor Zoyzoyla zum Europagymnasium Wörth"(02) "Neu in der Denkmalliste: Das Europa-Gymnasium in Wörth als bemerkenswertes Beispiel der Schularchitektur der 1960er Jahre"
06 | "‘A first in Paris’: city fumigates for tiger mosquitoes as tropical pests spread, bringing disease." The same mosquitoes have been spreading just south of here, pretty much exactly where I lived until 2022. Fortunately, this area here is still largely mosquito-free, but I'm sure it won't take long until climate change pushes those pests right into our backyard.
05 | Renowned publisher "Taschen" had a massive sale on for a few days and I bought myself three books at drastically reduced prices, Rock Covers (29.3 x 29.3 cm, 3.98 kg, 552 pages), Art Record Covers (29.3 x 29.3 cm, 3.84 kg, 448 pages) and Capitol Records (30 x 30 cm, 4.29 kg, 488 pages). Prices are already back to normal, but I paid 70 Euro for 12.11 kg and 1488 pages. The books arrived here in perfect (!) condition ... which was surprising given the usual destruction of packages by the various shipping providers.
04 | I've been on a Boz Scaggs binge lately. Currently, I'm really enjoying his 2018 album, "Out of the Blues". It has that homegrown blues sound I have always enjoyed, this time with a tinge of serious soul ambience. The album actually also received a Grammy nomination for Best Contemporary Blues Album. Rightly so. P.S.: One of the many favorite tracks from the album: "Radiator 110".
03 | Amazing what science can achive nowadays: "How scientists engineered a see-through squid with its brain in plain view". Still sick though. I wonder where it's all going to end.
02 | I had to buy a new keyboard to go along with my new Logitech "Bolt" receiver (which I received with the excellent MX Master 3s mouse). The problem is that this keyboard was enshittified by Logitech. Example? They disabled the "insert" key and replaced it with one to instantly switch languages. How effin' stupid can you possibly get? That's really the most asinine move I have EVER seen in any electronic product. Everyone, especially programmers, use the insert key all the damn time. I use it a million times per day and ... nope, not anymore. There should be some sort of drastic punishment for this kind of utter idiocy. Just proves that engineers are assholes and don't know their rear ends from their heads.
01 | Jesus. September already. Time is flying faster than usual this year. Wasn't it supposed to slow down as you get older?
08 | August
31 | I finally managed to meet up with an old friend again last night, one I can still debate my quirky political theories with. He also brought along a bottle of "schnapps" ("Altes Pflümli" = "old plum"), which opens every single door around here. A nice evening with talk, pizza, icecream ... and, well, schnapps.
30 | Martin Walser, a renowned German author who died in July, was a controversial writer in Germany. Without wanting to get into all of that, he was a master of words. I'm not good at translating prose fiction at all, but the following quote, (very) freely translated, is one of my favorites: "You probably do not live at all, but wait to live someday; afterwards, when it's all over, you want to know who you were while you waited."
29 | Today, I threw out the leftovers of 30+ years of work which had been stored in the basement in several archive boxes and while trashing it all, I wondered how many thousands of hours of work were contained in those boxes.
28 | At the clinic today for a checkup re my broken toe and a 3D scan revealed that I broke three toes, not just one. Things are coming along nicely though.
27 | Sixty-one ... and still alive. Wonderful presents and a fantastic dinner! Perfect!
26 | My old Logitech "MX Master" mouse went belly-up. I decided to replace it with their relatively recent "MX Master 3s," which is, after an hour or two, an excellent (!) mouse. The problem is that it blocks another USB port because they changed their dongles/receivers from "Lightning" to "Bolt". The thing that really pisses me off is that their incompatibility warning (no surprise) is printed in font size 0.1, both on- and offline. Asshats.
25 | A quote by Carl Sagan, simply because his prediction is applicable everywhere today ...“I have a foreboding of an America in my children's or grandchildren's time -- when the United States is a service and information economy; when nearly all the manufacturing industries have slipped away to other countries; when awesome technological powers are in the hands of a very few, and no one representing the public interest can even grasp the issues; when the people have lost the ability to set their own agendas or knowledgeably question those in authority; when, clutching our crystals and nervously consulting our horoscopes, our critical faculties in decline, unable to distinguish between what feels good and what's true, we slide, almost without noticing, back into superstition and darkness...The dumbing down of America is most evident in the slow decay of substantive content in the enormously influential media, the 30 second sound bites (now down to 10 seconds or less), lowest common denominator programming, credulous presentations on pseudoscience and superstition, but especially a kind of celebration of ignorance."
24 | The Tutanchamun immersive exhibition is coming to Germany (Stuttgart). It's at the top of my list.
23 | One more time - just because - two articles which show how broken the scientific and public discourse is:"How can we have a proper debate when we no longer speak the same language? - In the culture wars, hypersensitivity and accusations of ‘hate’ risk leading us into an Orwellian future."And, as usual, the consequence:"I left my job at The Guardian because I was no longer allowed to say what I wanted to say. - I suffered the consequences of expressing a view contrary to the liberal orthodoxy"
22 | As you know, I think the current writers' strike (WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes) in the US is (are) necessary. You find thousands of articles online, but here's another one which shows what's wrong with the system.
21 | I have travelled extensively these past many decades and would be, if necessary, a stout supporter of the "Greek 'Towel Movement'".
20 | Listening to Stevie Nicks' "Complete Albums & Rarities". Great stuff ... with a lot of filler material that is negligible.
19 | From today until the middle of next week, temperatures are going to rise sharply. So far, I've managed to keep things cool around here, but with several tropical nights in a row, that's becoming increasingly difficult. Germany is beginning to feel like Spain, the Middle East or South America where people come alive after the sun has gone down. But according to your usual shit-for-brains climate change deniers, "It's always been like that". Bullshit.
18 | I'm not prone to reading "The Spectator", but in their feature article, "How the British intelligentsia fell out of love with Germany", the description of Germany's current state and mindset is 99% accurate.
17 | Because we had to cancel our summer holidays on Lanzarote, my wife headed to southern Germany for a week today, hoping to get a lot of hiking and relaxing into 7 days. The weather looks promising.
16 | I need a battery-driven floor lamp with good design and longevity. You won't believe how difficult it is to find one. I've zeroed in on two models, one from Italy and one from Germany, and they both have - although they are or were very popular - serious problems with their batteries. PR speak is wonderful, real-life experience of people who actually bought them is horrendous. And that's across the board, no matter which other models you look at. P.S.: All the models are around $1000 or more and even at that price point, they apparently suck.
15 | If you are into fairy tales, "Snow White and the Widow Queen" is a fascinating Kickstarter project by Jonathan Pageau:"Snow White's baseline story is at risk of being swallowed up in a cultural moment. And it's not just Snow White but it's all of the fairy tales, and I've decided that this is the right time to retell the fairy tales and to claim that cultural moment — or at least establish a seat in it — for the Symbolic World."
14 | Fascinating: "Rosetta image archive complete". All high-resolution images and the underpinning data from Rosetta’s pioneering mission at Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko are now available in ESA’s archives, with the last release including the iconic images of finding lander Philae, and Rosetta’s final descent to the comet’s surface.
13 | I pull a load of different mail addresses together into one inbox, addresses that have accumulated in 20+ years of online life. It's fun to see how once in a while, like the past two or three weeks, spam waves suddenly hit one of the many providers I use(d) who is unable to cope with the avalanche for a week or two. And then, when this stuff gets through (but ends up in my spam folder), I wonder if anyone below the age of 90 actually still gets sucked in and clicks on any one of those mails and or links. Apparently, yes, otherwise this crap would not exist anymore, but the mails are so obviously machine-generated BS that I am suprised about the mental capacity of those people (with a couple of years of Internet experience) who fall for them, even the trickier ones.
12 | The following, "‘We’re gripped by graphomania’: why writing became an online contagion and how we can contain it", is an article from "The Guardian" and nails a problem that I have often talked about online with other people.Adam Thirlwell, the author, offers a solution, which did not rock my boat, but the opening paragraphs are spot-on:"Perhaps it was once possible to think of writing as something beautiful and wondrous, an amazing conduit of silent communication between soul and soul. For a monk in the 13th century, maybe all writing was worthy of illumination. We are now, quite obviously, a long way from that.This is the era of linguistic overproduction and downgrading. There are the rapidly developing AI language machines, with their endless ability to create new texts out of pre-existing ones. And, meanwhile, there is this other infinite factory of words: our constant production of online language. Graphomania is the new condition. Every day, millions of people write out a long series of opinions, blogs, TV one-liners, memories, confessions, reactions, heartfelt tributes, funeral notices: a whole apparatus of self-presentation. To be a writer is now a universal syndrome. [...]If everyone publishes in a constant process of self-presentation, then this self will become more and more extreme in its opinions, and society will correspondingly become more fractured and more vulnerable to acts of violence. This is one possibility. Another is that an era of graphomania has to be an era of manic reading, which leads to even more graphomania, as people write their opinions concerning other people’s writing. If everyone is a writer, then at the same time everyone is a critic – and so each person’s self stops being an interior, and instead becomes more mutant, produced by the words of other people. [...]"
11 | I watched the Zoom debacle unfold online. I don't use Zoom and never will, but apparently, and people are seriously riled up about it, "Zoom's new Terms of Service has come under fire for allegedly permitting training AI on user content without opt-out".
10 | Jason Kottke made me aware of this 2016 article, which makes for fascinating reading: "Venus Flytraps Are Even Creepier Than We Thought - When it comes to digesting its prey, the plant is a calculating killer".
09 | I don't know if you've been following the "Reddit-War" at all, but this article, focussing on "r/malefashionadvice", which I have never frequented, dives deep into the problems that exist and the problems that are produced. Some quotes:"[...] Reddit’s apparent disregard for its moderators, many of whom spend hours a day shaping subreddit culture, has been at the center of the clash between the company and its users. Subreddits that provide community and resources, meanwhile, are crumbling without the moderators and core users that kept them alive. [...]At the end of the day, all of these communities are held together by the quality of the enthusiasts — people who do this stuff for the love of it — and you can’t replicate nerds who spend hours every day moderating debates about pants [...].Reddit stamped out its user revolt, as Gizmodo reported, but in its Pyrrhic victory, may have irrevocably damaged its relationship with its users. Many subreddits just aren’t the same. Even though it didn’t capitulate to user demands, the site faces a worse prospect: losing relevance."
08 | A while ago, I was talking to someone online about the life of so-called "roadies" without whom concert tours simply would not be possible. I came across this page here today, in a different context, "Roadies on Queen tours", and you can see how many dedicated people you need to get a stadium tour on the road.
07 | Samsung has revealed the successor to my most-used gadget, my Samsung Tab S8 Ultra. The new Tab S9 Ultra is great, but it doesn't really add anything besides a better processor and other minor details. So, if there'll be more, I'll wait another generation or two.
06 | Well, towards the end of this week the weather is supposed to improve, but compared to the summers of past years, this one has been very ... wet. Still better than unbearable temperatures we had the previous years. Unfortunately though, we had to cancel our planned three-week stay on the island of Lanzarote because of my broken toe. I was really looking forward to that after two years of Covid and other crap.
05 | Apparently, around 40 super-rich Germans own as much as the rest of us. Good for them. Hope they use their money wisely.
04 | For a full week, we're hosting a guest from Seattle here at our place. I hope the torrential rains won't ruin his stay completely.
03 | I was listening to Marc-André Hamelin's 2004 recording of "Nikolai Kapustin - Piano Music, Vol. 2" again today. Kapustin's compositions are endlessly fascinating and often torrential runs of jazz and classically infused notes. To be able to play a lot of his music, you need extraordinary talent.
02 | A very (!) interesting read: "When AI Is Trained on AI-Generated Data, Strange Things Start to Happen".
01 | I don't use my Dell XPS17 all that much, so every single time I switch it on, I'm inundated with Windows 11 and Dell updates. Updates are fine, but the update cycles are getting shorter and shorter. I sometimes wonder what the damn point is in constantly "improving" products that most people are happy with the way they are.
07 | July
31 | Bandage change today. Still a minimum of four weeks of limping about.
30 | I really don't understand all this "Barbie" craze. That's one film I have absolutely no interest in watching ... ever.
29 | I've got another 5 to 6 weeks of limping around ahead of me. Broken toes suck. After a mere week, I'm already massively tired of not being able to do what I usually do.
28 | Another excellent Rick Beato interview (from quite a few months ago), with Thomas Newman, one of my absolute favorites: "The Thomas Newman Interview | Where Does THIS Music Come From?"
27 | "How streaming caused the TV writers strike." Without writers, there won't be ... anything. I'd be on the picket line together with them.
26 | We do not have a TV. In the evenings we spend lots of time discussing everything, including recent news and developments. We often end up talking about how society has changed, is changing and is, in my opinion, devolving.The other day, a German entertainer said something that made me prick up my ears, simply because it nicely sums up what I've been trying to tell people these past years:"I sometimes have the feeling that we are living in a time similar to the Weimar Republic. I feel almost as if we are on the eve of something that I do not want to experience (anymore)."
25 | The election in Spain went as expected. The (far) right is gaining ground but hasn't quite turned the corner yet. Unfortunately, it's symptomatic of just about every other European government that doesn't have right-wing participation yet. That is just around the corner, unfortunately.
24 | "Magical Memorabilia Tour: Classic Rock Hits the Auction Block". A fascinating read about crazy collectors doing their thing ... and driving prices up.
23 | I've been listening to a lot of Eddie Higgins lately, a wonderful jazz pianist who passed away in 2009. Many of his releases, especially on a Japanese label called "Venus" (... Sweet Jesus ... their website is absolutely archaic), often sound spectacular (especially the SACDs). If you happen to be interested, check out this detailed discography: "Eddie Higgins Discography 1956 - 2008".
22 | I've been resting today (see yesterday's post) and noticed that with a broken toe and a wad of bandages, this apartment forces me to cover long distances just to get whatever I forgot in the other room.
21 | Yippee-ki-yay. Just what I needed. I broke a toe today, on a Friday, shortly after every doctor went home to enjoy his/her weekend (in Germany, on Fridays, doctors give the finger to all their patients exactly one second after 12 noon). I ended up in the emergency ward which, for once, was organized well and only held us up for two hours or so.
20 | Today, because I was at my doctor's for a checkup, I revisited Wörth, the town I lived in for pretty much 30 years.When I moved there, I had a great apartment and stayed there for nearly 28 years. Then I moved out of that apartment because of the traffic increase that had been happening right outside my living room because the city administration had started to reroute traffic. After 28 years it had also become apparent that the powers that be had decided not to invest a single cent anymore in fixing ... anything. Their priorities lay elsewhere.When I moved, good friends and most neighbours told me "Stay! They have just announced that they are going to go for major fixes within the next two years." My response was simple: "I don't believe 'them'. It'll take forever and many problems won't be fixed".6 years later, today, several people I met when I walked through my former hunting grounds said: "You did the right thing."Yes, they have started fixing things, but it took them 6 years and they're still not done. On top of that, rerouting traffic will probably not be completed before 2030 because of legal and rather complex construction issues. Last, but not least, I noticed that the town had also stopped paying for gardening in public areas, emptying trash cans, etc. The infrastructure is basically in shambles.When I came home to our new residence (we moved here last September after I had lived at two different apartments in Wörth from 2017-2022), I looked down from my penthouse terrace, saw the streamlined landscaping efforts, that the streets are spotlessly clean (!), that traffic is minimal (!), and, especially, that people are basically happy all around.I didn't move out of my old place in Wörth with happy feelings, because I had to leave a lot of good people behind, but today I'm absolutely glad that I did. Quality of life improved dramatically!
19 | Yesterday, "Aliens" turned 37 years old. That reminded me of watching its predecessor ("Alien") in its first release week together with David H. (and one other person) at Imperial Movie Theatre in Copenhagen, Denmark. The funny thing was that Dave had the only broken seat in the (huge!) venue and - out of spite - started yelling out comments shortly before every single scary moment because he had seen the film the day or a few days before. I think that day he came pretty darn close to being murdered by many - if not most - people in attendance. To be quite honest, at some point I myself thought of changing seats, just to not get caught up in the massacre (which didn't happen ... the Danes are just too nice).
18 | I'm beginning to feel my age. I've always been quite reckless when it comes to abusing my body while assembling furniture, carrying around 300+ kilograms of stuff and lifting heavy-duty equipment, plus more, but the past weeks' work has made me feel like 80+. Joints are aching (and creaking), cuts right and left, strained ligaments, etc. For 40 years or so I carried a very heavy backpack every single day, for miles. These past weeks my doctor kept popping up in my head who said, about one year ago: "You though you were being 'sporty' ... while you were permanently ruining your joints and pushing your body to the maximum." Well, yes. I was and am dumb.
17 | Here's another fabulous interview Rick Beato recently published over on Youtube: "Christopher Cross: His Influences, Songs and Incredible Guitar Knowledge!". RUN ... don't walk.
16 | I have a load of (mostly German) cooking magazines. Currently, I'm trying to get my wife to play "cooking mag roulette" with me for a few months, maybe once a week. We select a magazine from the huge repository and cook something from it. Should be fun.
15 | Today was the hottest day of the year (so far). It was our luck that we received a shipment of a 2,8 meters cupboard for my wife's study two hours later than expected which we then had to assemble from scratch while everything around us was heating up. We got it done, but, at the very end (around 9 PM), we looked like survivors of a ten-year drought.
14 | In regard to yesterday's post: Shortly before his death, Dominique asked me to put together a decent selection of English-language comics for him. He himself was a fan of especially French and Belgian comics and had, way back when, a huge collection. I distinctly remember regularly frequenting comic books shops with him, especially in Strasbourg, France. I'll expand on this post in the near future, but suffice it to say that because of him, I developed at least a serious appreciation of the art and stories that make up a good comic. By the way, I finished with a decent selection nearly a year after he had passed away. Such is life.
13 | My best friend, Dominique Imbert, died exactly one year ago today. I think about him every day and will miss him until I drop dead.
12 | I ordered hard drives (two WD "Elements" 18TB drives) from Amazon. They sent them in a flimsy paper bag. Amazon has got to be the dumbest and least sustainable company on this planet. Wherever and whenever I check their customer feedback, it turns out that half of what they send out is returned. I hope Zuckerberg and Musk will maim whoever is in charge of Amazon now in their next cage fight.
11 | I tripped over a quote by some stranger the other day (Jim Zub on Twitter), which I thought was quite poignant:"For those of us who enjoyed the internet of the late 90's through the 00's, watching hopeful connectivity and knowledge turn into a fear-driven slot machine of intrusion and hate has been quite the sad journey."
10 | I've seen a lot of interviews with Stewart Copeland and always thought he was a quirky guy most of the time. Massively intelligent, yes, but often with an undercurrent of passive aggressiveness (regarding anything that had to do with "The Police"). But this interview on YouTube ("The Police's Stewart Copeland: 'Sting was a golden shaft of light'"), is excellent in many parts. Quite a bit of interesting stuff here.
09 | I have been listening to a lot of Bossa Nova lately.When I lived in Copenhagen, Denmark, the Brazilian ambassador lived right behind us, in yelling distance from our house. Besides diplomatically complaining about my drumming to my mum here and there (I admit it was much louder than it should have been), he also lent me a whole bunch of LPs way back when, many of which sparked my love for this music. He was a rabid fan of Baden Powell, who until this day has a too classical touch for my taste, but all the other albums were simply grand. As far as I recall, the Brazilian ambassador suddenly moved elsewhere and forgot to ask me to return a handful of albums, which I still have today.No matter what, I have been listening to a lot of Antônio Carlos Jobim, João Gilberto, Ana Caram, Elis Regina, Jorge Ben, Laurindo Almeida, Luiz Bonfá and many others these past weeks.I think it was the Paula Morelenbaum concert on July 18 (see my entry) here in Karlsruhe that once again kickstarted the search through my collection for this wonderfully relaxing, fun and often also very intimate music. If recorded well, it is soul-soothing music.
08 | I have finally gotten around to polishing up my website (small details that nobody will notice). I have also added two entire one-page websites, one for Dominique Imbert (1957-2022), my best friend for the past three decades who passed away unexpectedly last year and whose memorial website is now archived on deus62.com under its own domain, and one for Mr. Anthony Vadala (1940-2000), "Mr. V.", the best teacher I have ever had.People always say that the Internet doesn't forget. That's just not true because, for example, I found all but two small snippets about Mr. Vadala ... and that after several hours of searching. His first name was misspelled and I had to use all kinds of tricks to find these few viable results.My intention with these websites is to keep Dominique and Mr. Vadala "alive" online as long as I live ... or as long as deus62.com is around.Although the layout will be familiar to people reading my website, I've tried to keep them somewhat separate from my main domain without using a drastically different layout. I left out the header (but not the footer) and altogether tried to give them the "single-page feel".I have no idea if Google will index all these little projects properly. I constantly try to stay away from Google's data mining, I don't use website tracking, I don't ... anything. I just put things out there and hope that people searching for these names will eventually find what I put together. Maybe someone would even like to add something to any one of these memorial websites?I've been using Google and other search engines for decades now and it has become increasingly difficult to find anything anywhere. Often, search results are buried a hundred pages deep because grifting isn't their main objective. Google search results have declined massively these past few years.A sad state of affairs, which will, I presume, get much worse further down the timeline, simply because "average" users simply do not care.
07 | Just like all the other crap they put out there, "Meta’s Threads app is a privacy nightmare that won’t launch in EU yet". As far as I care, Zuckerberg and all that Meta BS can just go and die, together with all the other absolutely ruthless data miners.
06 | My mother is going to be released from hospital tomorrow, right into several days of around 40° C. Let's see how that works out.
04 | Found this, "I Can't Anymore", on Reddit the other day:"I’ve just learned from a student that the Holocaust happened sometime in the 1800s, she’s not sure when, but sometime during either World War I or World War II, both of which happened at some point in the 1800s.I just can’t anymore. I had assumed, going in to teaching, that these people had roughly the same knowledge I did at their age. Mistake. The horror of discovering that they have all grown up stunted at a first or second grade level of understanding about the world is just too much for me.This whole generation is too lost, too stunted, too hopeless. They are completely lacking any curiosity about the world at all. She had no follow-up questions at all for me. She did not ask when the Holocaust actually happened, after I told her she was wrong. She doesn’t care. None of them care about anything."
03 | 9 months in and we're still constantly redoing stuff in our apartment, moving shelves for the second or third time, setting new ones up, moving things in and out of the place. To be quite honest, it wasn't any different in the previous 5 apartments I lived in. They slowly took shape over time.
02 | We took several paintings and prints to be framed about 6 weeks ago. They are finally ready and we're going to pick them up on Thursday. I hope they turned out the way we envisioned them.
01 | I need two more 18TB hard drives, but prices have been fluctuating wildly these past weeks. €270 - €330, each weekday a different price. Today they're back at €318,60. It's like buying crude oil on the free market.
06 | June
30 | "The World According to Student Bloopers". Sounds incredulous, but as a teacher I saw worse in my time.
29 | Alan Arkin (26.03.1934 - 29.06.2023), in a nutshell:"I'm not sure if I've learned anything from show business. Life in general has taught me if you're kind to people, everything gets easier. Being a decent person really smoothes the way for you and everyone else.""I never had a better role than I had in 'Little Miss Sunshine.' That was one of my favorite roles ever.""What I look for these days is that I don't have long speeches, the character gets to sit down a lot, I don't have to learn any foreign languages, and it doesn't shoot in Minneapolis in February. That's mainly what I look for.""I wrote my epitaph: 'He started out a particle and ended up a wave.'"R.I.P.
28 | I always have to laugh when I think about all those people on Twitter who really believe they are relevant and that any of their thousands of tweets matter. Go anywhere and ask people about 99% of these "opinion leaders" and absolutely nobody has ever heard of them (unless they use Twitter) .
27 | I was thinking of getting myself an e-bike this year. So far, no luck. Too many models, too many problems that haven't really been ironed out yet, most models are too heavy and, last but not least, too expensive for what you get. I think I can wait another generation or two because the market and innovation are developing exponentially over here.
27 | Are you good at maths? I'm, certainly not! It gets difficult fast.
26 | Rick Beato, whose YouTube channel most pop and rock fans should know by now, continues to produce and record excellent videos and interviews. I highly recommend, for example, his relatively recent interviews with Steve Lukather and Nuno Bettencourt, both of which are endlessly fascinating.
25 | Now my mom also ended up in hospital and is seriously ill. This year is a veritable "annus horribilis".
24 | "Cover" is certainly the sleekest comic book reader available for Windows.
23 | The whole Titan sub thing just showed how disgusting humanity has become. Online, most people were gleefully dancing on the deceased's graves.
22 | I'm all for the writer's strike in the US. Just follow people like Ed Solomon on Twitter, who, for example, had the following to say about the "creative accounting" major film and TV studios use to not have to pay their authors:"The studios ARE losing money, just as they say. My recent 'Men in Black' profit statement proves that the film, though having generated over $595 million in revenue, has actually cost Sony over $598 million. SO close, too: off by just .02%/yr. THEY should be picketing US."And that's just the tip of the iceberg.
21 | Also, a TV series based on the "3 Body Problem" is apparently going to premiere in January of 2024. I just wonder if the subject matter will be popular enough for the series not to be axed after a single season.
20 | I'm really looking forward to these two film projects, which are finally beginning to take shape: "Mavericks Francis Ford Coppola And Kevin Costner On Risking Their Fortunes Bankrolling Passion Pics ‘Megalopolis’ And ‘Horizon’".
19 | Well, I like Secret Invasion's opening credits, but ... "The Company Behind Secret Invasion's Opening Credits Defends Use Of AI After Marvel Fan Backlash".
18 | We went to see Paula Morelenbaum live last night. The concert was fantastic and although, because of the warm Saturday night we had here, not many/enough people were in attendance, the trio (incl. the wonderful and renowned Joo Kraus and Ralf Schmid) delivered.The program was varied, the musicianship excellent and, as I told her via Instagram today, I really enjoyed her live performance after having been limited to only listening to her many recordings, all of which I have, ... a thousand times+.It is always fascinating to see how three extremely experienced and passionate artists can create wonderful music from a minimum of gear. Already now, this concert was and will remain a highlight of 2023.
17 | Today's the day! As I mentioned before, I have all but three moving boxes left with papers I haven't sorted out these past many years. I'm going to start attacking them ... now.
16 | Judas Priest -1979 - Live at the Mudd Club has been up on YouTube for quite a while (and is part of their uneven "Reflections" 42-CD boxed set from a while ago, which is certainly not worth it because of all the errors): Hell Bent for Leather | Delivering the Goods | Running Wild | Beyond the Realms of Death | The Green Manalishi | Victim of Changes | Rock Forever | Starbreaker ... great concert!
15 | I always wondered what happened to Michael Elo, who was actually an excellent (Danish) singer way back in the 1970s and 1980s, especially on two albums by his band "De5" (1, 2, 3), a band which has become a collector's item in those circles around the globe that appreciate what is often called "West Coast" pop music (the debut album is readily available as an LP but costs an arm and a leg on CD). He also did tons of work as a background singer on many albums that were successful way back when. Then he seemingly disappeared, completely. So, yesterday I did some digging ...... and, well, it turns out he dived head-first into the dubbing world, especially animated films and TV cartoons and established himself there. In this fascinating interview up on YouTube (you need to be able to understand Danish), he describes how his music background helped him with a myriad of jobs from Disney movies to Pokemon songs. Plus, he seems to be happy and a very nice guy. Interviews like these make YouTube worthwhile.
14 | This summer we are going to travel to the Canary Islands again, same spot and same hotel as several times before. With the heated climate debate raging everywhere, I was surprised that the flights were much cheaper than I had anticipated.
13 | Saw this sign today: "Skinny people are easier to kidnap, stay safe and eat a burger." Sounds like something I could have come up with.
12 | Speaking of headsets (see yesterday's post): "Sol Reader is a VR headset exclusively for reading books.." Sounds like something for me.
11 | All this "Meta Universe" and AR stuff interests me about as much as a hole in the ground, but I always wondered why someone couldn't come up with a headset that would allow us film freaks to watch movies on a giant virtual "home screen". It seems like Apple is finally trying to get there with its "Vision Pro," although I suspect I'll be dead and gone (or deaf and blind) before a viable consumer version hits the market.
10 | We've had two full weeks of sunny and clear days here and we finally seem to have rented an apartment that doesn't heat up like a Finnish sauna after having been exposed to a few hours of direct sunlight. Although we have the penthouse apartment, the place has stayed comfortably cool and is well-isolated.
09 | Because it is the only place where a part of the Hofmann family will reside permanently, my father was finally laid to rest in Aurich, very close to the North Sea. I know he didn't much care about where he might end up, but I'm sure he would have appreciated it, especially because his final resting place is both serene and shaded by a large tree in the mornings.
08 | 1977 was just like today (albeit with better music around). When "Jesus of Nazareth" (TV drama serial) was released, it was met with hysterical protest by some American Protestant fundamentalists led by Bob Jones III. Because the series was supposed to portray "[...] Jesus as 'an ordinary man – gentle, fragile, simple' [...], Jones interpreted this as meaning that the portrayal would deny Christ's divine nature. Having never seen the film, Jones denounced it as 'blasphemy'".
06 | Today, besides a lot of trashing of old stuff, visiting relatives and an early meeting with our bank advisor, we managed to make 6 glasses of excellent strawberry jam. The weather is perfect, albeit too dry for anything that needs more water. Life is good for us ... but not so much for plants.
05 | My "Brainbuilder" multi-move reclining chair arrived today. It's always difficult to buy furniture on spec, but I had a pretty good idea that it would fit me. See, most manufacturers around the globe never account for the fact that someone might be taller than the standardized human being. The company I chose, hailing from Belgium, offers each reclining chair in a small, "midi" and "max" version, the latter of which I ordered (after only having tested the smaller one). Fits perfectly, is a dream of a chair and I hope it'll last until I drop dead (every minute detail is fault- and spotless!)P.S.: I think this might be the most expensive single furniture item I ever bought. In production, I guess, it is assembled by 12 vestal virgins and sprinkled with fairy dust before it's shipped off to customers.
04 | Wanna buy Spock's ears, Harry Potter's glasses, Princess Leia's dress, Mel Gibson's sword from Braveheart, Alien costumes or original scripts and, and, and ... ? The current Propstore's "Entertainment Memorabilia Live Auction: Los Angeles 2023" catalogue is 365 pages of a millionaire's dream. Wow!
03 | Life changes when you retire and the stress of always having to still get this or that done for school falls away. It's an entirely different life, believe me.
02 | In the beginning of the year (check the 2nd of February on this page), I ordered a present for myself to celebrate my then upcoming early retirement. It's going to arrive Monday morning, built to my specifications and nearly 4 months in the making: Brainbuilder. In anticipation, we are going to redo the whole living room tomorrow.
01 | Today we took a trip to "Doktorenhof" in a town called Venningen (just across the Rhine) to buy some much-lauded vinegar products. Great place and huge selection. Highly recommended!
05 | May
31 | We spent most of the day planning my wife's office and our living room, both of which still need a lot of improvement. We are getting closer to a solution for both.
30 | There's still a lot of paper- and legwork to be done in regard to helping my mother sort things out at home, now that my dad is gone. Today was another day mostly spent doing exactly that.
29 | It took me weeks to find a company that manufactures decent (simple & white) T-shirts. Increasingly so, I get the feeling that German companies are happy with producing the crappiest stuff imaginable because stupid Germans buy it no matter what. I finally found a Dutch company that still produces quality T-shirts.
28 | I added one more hardcover to my collection, this one. Looking forward to reading it this summer.
27 | Interesting read (via tldr): "Large language models that generate text improve as they are fed more data. Making bigger and more capable AI requires processing power that few companies possess. There is a growing concern that a small group of tech companies will exercise near-total control over the technology. [...]"
26 | She just won't go away. Some of these Republicans are like herpes.
25 | We went to see the King's Singers tonight. Great concert with a highly appreciative audience and a splendidly varied program.
24 | Today, by pure accident, I discovered that Paula Morelenbaum is going to be in Karlsruhe with the Bossarenova Trio.Morelenbaum, world-renowned bossa nova singer straight from the Antônio Carlos Jobim school - who first entered my world with Morelenbaum2/Sakamoto way back when - is one of my absolute favorites. I think I might have everything she ever recorded and I also play it all the time.Amazingly enough, I was still able to get tickets.People have absolutely no idea what they're missing.
23 | It took weeks - because shipping was (again) screwed up on the German side of the border - but I finally received Justin Cronin's "The Ferryman", the signed edition with sprayed edges. Love the author's work so far.
22 | This year's weather is odd. After a prolonged winter with reasonably cold weather (of course, because gas and electricity prices had gone through the roof shortly before that phase started), we've now suddenly gone to 27 degrees and two buckets full of humidity. It's like losing at Monopoly, again.
21 | A quote that made me laugh out loud, although a bit antiquated:"In metric, one milliliter of water occupies one cubic centimeter, weighs one gram, and requires one calorie of energy to heat up by one degree centigrade - which is 1 percent of the difference between its freezing point and its boiling point. An amount of hydrogen weighing the same amount has exactly one mole of atoms in it.Whereas in the American system, the answer to 'How much energy does it take to boil a room-temperature gallon of water?' is 'Go fuck yourself,' because you can't directly relate any of those quantities." - Josh Bazell. Wild Thing. Reagan Arthur Books, 2012.
20 | While doing tons of paperwork, I had time to reflect on 30 years as a teacher in the German educational system. That system has been so fundamentally flawed and seriously deficient for decades now that I don't believe it will (or can) be fixed any time soon. I think I might put a page or two together about those problems one these next few weeks.
19 | The last huge pile of papers I have to sort out are a synthesis of the last three to four years that I just threw into a big moving box. Sorting this mess out is a real drag and is taking a lot longer than planned. Once done though, every tiny little thing will be in its assigned place in my room. I like it that way. Big thanks to my old pal, Siegmund Freud.
18 | My wife went on a three-day concert tour with her choir, "Bachchor Karlsruhe". Wikipedia has a (German) entry for the choir. It was founded in 1905 and has a colourful history. They are currently touring around Lake Constance and, luckily enough, the weather has been improving steadily these past few days. She'll be back on Sunday.
17 | Since we moved last September/October, too many things have gotten in the way and so far we have been unable to finish setting up our place the way we wanted to when we planned it all. So, we've started a second "push". The first step is mine because I need to finish the last 10% of my room. That means I'll be knee-deep in old papers that need to be filed away. The other day I already spent an entire day cleaning up my bookshelves, top to bottom. But, hell, I've got all the time in the world now.
16 | I can't remember if I mentioned it here before, but I'm thinking of setting up a newsletter for this site. Stay tuned.
15 | Last year, I set up a website for Dominique Imbert, my best friend who passed away far too early. We have decided that within the next two months, that website will be integrated into my website here. I'll keep the domain and set up a one-page site here to house the comments collected on the original site.Along those lines, I have also decided to reintegrate my old "Anthony Vadala" memorial website. I always find it really depressing if people like him, a former teacher of mine who passed away many years ago, disappear from the Web completely.
14 | The last time that happened to me is ages ago: one of my hard drives failed today. The biggest one. Altogether, my current PC is showing quite a bit of wear and tear. Time to get a - future-proof - new one. The problem is that prices have gone up considerably since I bought this one. Lots of reading to do ...
13 | Today I noticed that I have twelve versions of "Dark Side of the Moon". How many times are they going to re-release that one? I'm sure there are a lot more versions available on the market than I have.
12 | I simply have too many books I have to read. It's been really difficult to choose, but I've started on Adrian Tchaikovsky's trilogy, "Children of Time" (2015), "Children of Ruin" (2019) and "Children of Memory" (2022).Apparently the Financial Times (they do book reviews?) said that the novels tackle "... big themes—gods, messiahs, artificial intelligence, alienness—with brio."What attracted me to the series initially was the Arthur C. Clarke Award for the first installment with its "[...] "universal scale and sense of wonder reminiscent of Clarke himself."
11 | Have I mentioned before that my wife is an excellent cook (whereas I suck at everything that has to do with the kitchen ... besides cleaning up)? It's Asparagus season here and the number of excellent dishes she created with it are simply legion.
10 | "The Story of Riot, the Unluckiest Band in the World". Yep.
09 | Yeah, I suck. I just bought another signed hardcover first edition from the UK, Justin Cronin's "The Ferryman" ... one of those editions with (pinkish-blue) sprayed edges (Orion, UK). Hearses don't have luggage racks. Yeah, sure.
08 | Dina, one of my oldest friends, took the jump and left the US to move back to Denmark. I have the feeling she is (still) as much in love with the country as I was way back when. I wish her the best of luck there and hope to see her soon.
07 | The other day I wrote about ordering signed editions of Justin Cronin's "The Passage" trilogy. They arrived here in pristine shape from Glastonbury, UK. I love it when eBay purchases turn out to be more than just a shopping experience. The guy on the other end was seriously nice and someone who cared about what he sold.
06 | "Rufus Stone Limited Editions" make some spectacular books. I wish I had the space for some of them.
05 | One of the absolutely most irritating things about Wikipedia (amongst many) is that they use brackets in their URLs. Who came up with that absolutely asinine idea? Boomers?
04 | I really hope that Apple+'s "Silo" TV-series, based on Hugh Howey's wonderful series of novels, will hit it out of the ballpark. Loved those books.
03 | In relation to yesterday's post, I also bought signed first editions of my all-time favorite trilogy, Justin Cronin's “The Passage”, “The Twelve” and "The City of Mirrors", off a wonderful seller from Glastonbury, UK. I'm going to pick up the shipment today or tomorrow. It actually made it through customs unscathed, I think, Brexit be damned.
02 | I have pretty much become a digital book collector, but those eBooks simply cannot live up to smelling, touching and reading a real book, in my case hardcovers only.So, I decided to order three new ones, all of which are more "epic" than usual, clocking in at 700+ pages: Wendig, Chuck. Wayward. Del Rey, 2022 [816 pages] (his follow-up to "Wanderers") plus Markley, Stephen. Deluge. Simon & Schuster, 2023 [896 pages] and Stephenson, Neal. Termination Shock. William Morrow, 2021 [720 pages].
01 | Just in case you were wondering where all of this KI stuff might lead to, here's a snippet: "A Photographer Tried to Get His Photos Removed from an AI Dataset. He Got an Invoice Instead."
04 | April
30 | Tonight, we went to see Kenny Wayne Shepherd live. What a blast! He's currently on his "TROUBLE IS - 25th Anniversary Tour" which had to be postponed twice because of Covid. Shepherd is one of the greats and he showed why tonight.
29 | "How Cocaine Bear Won Our Hearts". Yep.
28 | If you don't want to run to a thousand different offices after someone has passed away, you need to hire an attorney to do the legwork for you. That's what we did.
27 | Lots of paperwork still to be done here for my mom.
26 | Today it's "Benny Goodman Day" here."Sing, Sing, Sing", "Don't Be That Way", "Down Southcamp Meetin'", "One O'Clock Jump", "Bugle Call Rag", "King Porter Stomp", "Let's Dance", "And the Angels Sing", "Goody Goody", "Avalon", "Moonglow", "China Boy" ... and a hundred others.Great stuff!
25 | Harry Belafonte passed away today. It all fits. One of my dad's (and my) favorite tunes was "Day-O - The Banana Boat Song."I remember flying home from Caracas/Venezuela ages ago and listening to Stan Freeberg's version of the song on the plane's radio channel. I knew my dad loved Freeberg's comedic take, bought the LP upon my return and proceeded to tape it for him.Freeberg's version we listened to a million times, plus one.
24 | One day after I have returned from Bonn, I still haven't unpacked properly. My room is a mess and the pile of paperwork I should have completed weeks ago is still growing.
05-23 | Just after I wrote my last post on here, I was informed that my dad had passed away, on April 4th 2023 at 14:20.The weeks since then were a whirlwind of emotions and work which was, to say the least, difficult for everyone involved.My mother, who was married to my dad for more than 60 years, was absolutely devestated, my brothers had a hard time getting away from work and I was lucky enough to be able to help as I had just gone into early retirement. I don't even want to imagine what things could have been like - especially for my mom - had I not been able to just jump ship here for several weeks.Sometime in the course of this year, I will start to put together a separate section on this website commemorating my dad and his life's work. He had an astonishing career which was, especially historically (... for us "boomers"), fascinating, as was his personality.Until then, a few thoughts.As I went through a truckload-full of files, photos, memorabilia, online mail accounts and tidbits, a few things quickly became apparent:(01) My father had an extraordinary number of contacts around the world, all of which quickly replied to me with the same message: "He was my (one of my) last friend(s) who passed away."(02) My father left a lasting impression on many people, many of whom were simply too old and fragile themselves to travel to his funeral. Several did make it though. I also received an astonishing number of very personal and, yes, emotional mails and letters.(03) Because he was active in so many clubs and organizations until the very end, and because he had shared so much of his own and his political life, he was revered by many who had sought his companionship.(04) Luckily, we were all able to spend those last weeks with my dad, hug and kiss him and be there although most of the time, he was not able to react directly anymore. Still, there were those few aware moments in which he clearly responded to us. I will be eternally thankful for those moments.(05) His funeral was a dignified one with those in attendance who could make it. I was able to speak to many people who always stated the same thing(s):" Your father made a difference to us and our lives".
04 | Although I knew it was coming, it was a phone call I dreaded.I was just contacted by the ER of the hospital my dad was transferred to and they let me know that he doesn't have long anymore.In accordance with a patient decree I practically forced him (and my mother) to get only a few years back, the staff are going to move him to a single room, refrain from life-preserving invasive treatments, give him medication against any pain he may be experiencing and ... wait.So, I'm once again in the process of packing and trying to plan travelling to Bonn tonight or very early tomorrow morning, also to help my mom who is herself partly incapacitated at the moment.My father has had a spectacular run in his life and in the few waking moments he had in the last two weeks I spent with my mom and with my brothers at his bedside, he said: "I've experienced so much and now it's time for me to go."I'm glad I was there for those last few alert minutes he experienced here and there while we were all there and with him.I have no idea what this will mean for my website these next few days or weeks, but whenever I can, I'll keep you posted.
03 | Today, finally, the lamps for our entire apartment we ordered in January finally arrived. The installation went smoothly and we are very happy with what we selected.
02 | While in Bonn, late in the evenings, I watched "Gangs of London" on my Samsung Tab S8 Ultra. Spectacular first season, too brutal for most, I guess, with a very good, slightly inferior second season. As far as I know, it's been renewed for a third season, especially because the series was Sky Atlantic's second-biggest original drama launch of all time. Highly recommended for people who are as weird as I happen to be.
01 | I returned home after a few weeks in Bonn today. It's great to be home ... and I got a wonderful dinner tonight along with an excellent drink and some Italian "Prosecco". I need a few days to get back to normal after having spent weeks on the phone in Bonn.
03 | March
22-31 | An eternity later, I am beginning to realize how completely screwed up the German care system is. If you didn't sign up years before, there simply isn't anything available.For the past fifteen years or so, my parents refused to even acknowledge that at some point in the future their situation might call for a solution outside of their own place and now that they arrived at exactly the point their children predicted, things look dire at best.But, we're all still working on it and hope to find a solution. More soon.
17-21 | I've spent these last days in Bonn, taking care of my parents and their house.90% of the time I've spent trying to find a nursing home for my dad.In short, the care system is as screwed up as the educational system here.The latter I just left in the beginning of the month and a few days later I dropped into the former with a painful belly flop.This will take weeks.
16 | My dad is not doing well at all anymore and I'm going to travel to Bonn today to see him and my mom. I have no idea if I will have the time to post anything here, so it might be a few days until I reappear.
15 | We have more and more websites which have disappeared behind paywalls and even more which now require a registered account to read anything. Here's a hard truth for them: "Not reading is easier than reading - and way easier than logging in".
14 | The Oscars this year - I always try to watch them live in the middle of the night - went pretty much as I had expected. That Jamie Lee Curtis got one was nice but not deserved (Angela Bassett should really have won that category) and it reminded me of the many Oscars snubs of the past, "The Color Purple" with 11 nominations and 0 (!) wins, "The Shape of Water" winning Best Picture over "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri" and "Get Out". Meryl Streep stealing Amy Adams' nomination for "Arrival", Ellen Burstyn losing to Julia Roberts in 2001 and "Titanic" winning over "LA Confidential" ... the list goes on and on.
13 | I was listening to a larger part of an 18-CD bootleg box set today, "Led Zeppelin. Studio Magik. Sessions 1968-1980. The Godfather Box, 2013". This one is only for die-hard fans, but it serves up absolutely fascinating stuff. Of course, the sound quality varies tremendously, but there are some pristine cuts on there that offer a fascinating insight into the recording process. Interested? Here's more info on the set.
12 | My home state, in which I don't live anymore, has finally gotten around to calculating my pension (a month late with an eight-month warning, which is actually astonishingly quick in regard to the slow pace of the German civil service ... and German everything).I had access to a pretty accurate pension plan calculator and, because I'm a cautious fellow, my calculation was a tad short. I'll be getting just about 50 Euro more a month than I had calculated (very conservatively).As my grandfather used to say, that's at least a crate of beer extra. Little did he know way back when that I like to drink expensive rum(P.S.: I thought this was interesting when we talk about cocktails ... (yes, I'm anal that way).
11 | My savings are currently being eaten up by an inflation rate of nearly 9% while I'm at an age at which risky changes in investment plans are simply not feasible anymore. There is no more "long-term".It's been my luck these past decades to always have gotten the shitty end of the stick right when some date arrived at which things changed to the negative but, still, having been brought up (especially in regard to finances) by my dad, who was always an extremely cautious fellow, I anticipated these kinds of developments and won't lose any sleep over them.
10 | "All Things Fungi". Absolutely fascinating.
09 | I'm enjoying Martin James Bartlett's recording of Rachmaninov and Gershwin at the moment (Martin James Bartlett. Rachmaninov - Gershwin: Rhapsody. London Philharmonic Orchestra, Joshua Weilerstein. Warner Classics, 2022).
08 | Funny how "[The Reader](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TheReader(2008_film)" (2008) was mostly trashed in Germany and got pretty decent reviews elsewhere. I like it and watched it again today.
07 | "The Swarm" by Frank Schätzing had its own faults but was enjoyable (and quite successful around the globe). I remember reading it on Lanzarote around the time it was published.The resulting '2023 European Alliance co-produced Science fiction streaming television series,' The Swarm", is being universally panned, and rightly so. It might be based on the cover image of the novel, but it certainly doesn't have much to do with the actual content.On top of that, although I usually don't get riled up about this kind of stuff because, if it works or doesn't distract, I simply don't care, the producers threw a bucket full of woke bullshit at the material and then forced it to stick. Instead, they should perhaps have invested some money to improve the horrible CGI and to create at least some sort of tension which the novel had spades of.40 million Euro down the chute. That's the one thing German TV has been exceptionally great at for the past many decades.
06 | It's "George Duke Day" here today. "George Duke released 32 studio albums, eight live albums, 19 collaborative albums [...] and 47 singles." This massive discography will keep me busy for a while.
05 | "Japan discovered it has 7,000 more islands than previously thought thanks to advanced survey mapping technology. [...] But how does a country just lose islands? The answer is fairly simple, when the Japanese Coast Guard counted the islands 35 years ago, the technology was not able to distinguish between small clusters of islands and larger individual islands, meaning thousands of these islands were counted as one." (Gizmodo)
04 | I just rewatched "The Insider" (with three excellent actors, Al Pacino, Russell Crowe and Christopher Plummer) for the tenth or eleventh time. Love that 1999 film by Michael Mann. As Andrew Sarris (Observer) wrote in 2007, "What I didn't expect was an intelligently absorbing entertainment that ran for two hours and 40 minutes, during which I didn't once look at my watch -- just about the highest praise I can bestow upon a film these days." The film takes some liberties with the real story, but Michael Mann created a riveting tour-de-force from it.
03 | I followed the Alex Murdaugh trial here and there (via YouTube) until he was found guilty a few hours ago. All this time I thought this could have made a ripping crime novel. The major problem with this "material" though: any editor would probably have said: "That's just too far out. Stuff like that just doesn't happen in real life". Well, it did happen. Read up on it as well as the Murdaugh family history and you'll just end up scratching your head, asking yourself how this could have gone on for as long as it did. Stephen Smith, Gloria Satterfield and Mallory Beach dead. Alex Murdaugh's wife and son murdered. Assisted suicide insurance fraud scheme, murder-for-hire suicide scheme, embezzlement from the dead, theft, narcotics addiction and distribution, abuse of power and office. The list just goes on and on. Altogether 106 grand jury criminal charges.As a friend of mine wrote to me the other day, "Well, that's the South for ya."
02 | "Reading ‘Lord Of The Rings’ And ‘1984’ Could Lead To Right-Wing Extremism, Gov’t Report Warns.".Also, J.K. Rowling is apparently Hitler reincarnated and her books are supposedly anti-semitic, evil tomes although, luckily enough, some people still have the courage to disagree openly.And, as we have all probably read by now, Roald Dahl's books were recently rewritten by "sensitivity readers".This world is going to hell in a handbasket, carried by imbeciles unable to think for themselves and in dire need of others to show them the way. It is utterly depressing to see the legions of spineless, uneducated and ignorant morons everywhere who not only insist on polluting and destroying public discourse with every insanely absurd and uninformed word they utter, but who are also beginning to form an activist hive mind that has begun to steamroll everyone and everything.
01 | Today, at midnight, I officially started early retirement.
02 | February
28 | "Meanwhile, AC/DC provided some sonic artillery when Panama’s dictator General Manuel Noriega holed himself up in the Vatican Embassy in Panama City to escape the American military. Helicopter gunships and tanks blasted recordings of AC/DC and various metal bands at the compound 24 hours a day in a bid to flush him out, or at least give him a brutal dose of sleep deprivation. ‘We were just glad to be of service,’ Brian told Liam Fay in Hot Press on 18 October 1990."(Murray Engleheart & Arnaud Durieux. AC/DC: Maximum Rock & Roll: The Ultimate Story of the World's Greatest Rock-And-Roll Band. Harper Collins, 2009.)And this: Music torture ...
27 | Glenn Frey had a very mixed solo career. Today I was listening to his solo studio albums and the only official live album again and there are quite a few tunes that I really like. "Who's Been Sleeping in My Bed" from his 1995 solo collection is a great tune with a wonderfully solid shuffle beat and - although many might think the song is more than corny - his live version (1993) of "Wild Mountain Thyme" has always been a favorite of mine. And "Smuggler's Blues" always pushes the glitzy "Miami Vice" back into my face, a series that at the time was more than "cool" and seems quite dated today.
26 | I'm sorting through 7 years of unsorted papers today. Life shouldn't be like that.
25 | "Swords and Tequila." An absolute favorite!
24 | I bought my first artificial plant. My mom has green fingers - and so does my wife - but I have the fingers of certain death. Let's see if I can keep plastic alive.
23 | Algorithms suck. Google never (ever) displays what you are looking for and Amazon is even worse. No matter what you are looking for, using quotation marks or key words to make sure you find what you need, the result will always be sponsored bullshit and an endless stream of crappy products that people buy because, well, they show up at the top of the list. The other day I decided, after a few decades, to cancel "Amazon Prime". Search results suck, their music streaming sucks even more and their video streaming is horrible here in Germany. They couldn't care less because people like me, who have been members since the get-go, aren't worth keeping. It's the masses they are after. Well, good riddance.
22 | When I moved out of my first apartment here many years ago (to move to a much smaller one), my best friend, Dominique, was kind enough to let me store a huge load of stuff (table, eight expensive chairs, a stereo, three pairs of speakers, 100+ LPs, 20 paintings/pictures ... and much more at his place. He had plenty of space.After he passed away last year, his wife was kind enough to let me know I could keep all the stuff there until she drops dead.Still, today, we picked up the first load and - besides the table (natural wood, untreated) - I was happy to see that everything survived the temperature changes from minus 15 to plus 50 (Celsius). The table is shot (I knew it would be), but everything else survived in mint condition.
21 | I think it's sad that in his career, Paul Bettany, here as a rather offbeat Geoffrey Chaucer, didn't get (or choose) many bigger roles in big budget films that would have fit his talents much better. P.S.: He was great in "Master and Commander", "Margin Call" and "Manhunt: Unabomber" as well, but all this Marvel stuff just wasn't him.
20 | We spent some time in Durlach today, about a 20 minute's drive away. After they almost killed Karlsruhe while building a one-kilometer subway for something like 15 years, Durlach is the place that still has that small pub, café and restaurant charme and the quaint architecture to go with it.
19 | After much deliberation, I decided to put all of my collections into my room instead of cluttering up the living room with them. So, I'm surrounded by my CDs, my books, plus, although they are not up on the wall properly yet, the LP covers (canvas prints).Now, when I'm gone, my wife just needs to lock the door, set the whole room on fire and bury me with everything that used to be inside.P.S.: The new white desktop speakers aren't pictured yet, but the black (more massive) ones are gone..
18 | I had to wait for half a year, simply because my wife thinks I shouldn't indulge all that much, but today's the day: "Köttbullar". The smells wavering through our new apartment are, in a positive sense, otherworldly.
17 | One of the best things about our new apartment is the view: we have a roof terrace that not only reaches around the entire apartment, but also affords us a view of the black forest in the distance, the wavering fog in the mornings and spectacular sunrises and sunsets ... whenever the sun is around.
16 | One of my favorite melodies is "Honor Him" from "Gladiator" (Hans Zimmer and Lisa Gerrard).The funny thing is that this orchestral piece constitutes a miniscule part of the soundtrack. Luckily, some crazy guy turned it into a "1 Hour Extended version" on YouTube, which I downloaded ages ago.I'm presently listening to it ... again.
15 | In the next few weeks, we're going to try some of the top restaurants around here. In comparison to our former places of residence, all of them are a bit further away from our new apartment, but appear equally promising.The first one we wanted to try needs reservations weeks ahead (we were too late and pushed a dinner there into the near future). But, and that's the point of this entry, we have about 10 of them within a 20-minute (drive) radius.
14 | "The shower-curtain effect in physics describes the phenomenon of a shower curtain being blown inward when a shower is running. The problem of identifying the cause of this effect has been featured in Scientific American magazine, with several theories given to explain the phenomenon but no definite conclusion."I got a grip on the so-called Bernoulli effect in one of our showers via a simple order from Amazon ... simple white (and heavy) magnets that can be attached to a shower curtain.They are produced in China, sold by a company somewhere around San Francisco and it was fascinating to watch their route across half of the planet to my place ... in a few days.Globalization? ... Yay!
Environment? ... Nay!
13 | In the past 16 years, we have frequented just about every single excellent vineyard in our region(s). When they opened their new tasting room, we added "Weingut Klein," which hails from one of the best towns in Germany when it comes down to excellent wines, Hainfeld. Within our price bracket, their wines are absolutely spectacular (and quite pricey outside of our region).
12 | Whenever I watch American politics from a distance, especially when demented clowns like Marjorie Taylor Green show up - you know, the lady who, surprisingly enough, has the GOP's balls in a tight squeeze - I'm reminded of this epitome of western culture: "Boogie in Your Butt". Political discourse has been a total shambles for years now.
11 | I received one of the most important letters of the past 30 years today. Unfortunately, I had to wait almost 8 months for it. Cliffhanger: I'll write more about it on the first of March.
10 | Bahama Social Club. Check them out on Bandcamp. I love this kind of remixed lounge music that incorporates classic jazz, African beats, world music, and ... summer.
09 | After I complained about prices yesterday ... we finally have a fridge and a freezer that are both able to hold a lot more than previous models we had and save energy at the same time. Still, a fridge with ice cube dispenser and other more or less superfluous intricate automatic functions alludes me. Maybe I'll ask my family to bury me in one of those.
08 | Inflation. Now that we live together, we are able to save a lot of money that used to fly out the window, but inflation has really put a damper on that effect recently. It is amazing - in comparison to other European countries - what the complacent German population is willing to put up with.
07 | I'm a hopeless case. New surroundings, new audio equipment. I needed some new speakers (passive) to replace my former active speakers (which needed to be connected to an outlet). I opted for the nuBoxx B-30 ... in white. Great sound!Nubert is a company I have relied on for decades now. They always deliver (and win prizes for almost every speaker nowadays). Fantastic value for money, especially because they have removed the middle man and sell directly to customers.
06 | She Spent Two Years Writing for an Acclaimed Album — and Made Only $4,000. Read all of it and weep. Everything that's wrong with the music business today.
05 | "Hofladen". That's the German word for "farm shop". These past two decades we have been fortunate enough to always have had several of them near our place and around our new place, they again hail from almost every direction.Besides the fact that what you are able to purchase there is much fresher, less contaminated and, usually, sold with a lot more love, the variety is often astonishing.At these farms you can often buy produce that has gone completely out of fashion because vegetables, fruit and whatnot have become globalized and streamlined down to tasteless stuff that people have become accustomed to.
04 | Call me crazy, but years after I trashed (= sold or off to a landfill) my rather large LP collection, I decided to rebuy original (mint or near-mint) pressings of those 40 albums I listen to the most to supplement the about 150 LPs I kept (mostly Danish music from the 1980s and old jazz albums which, already way back when, cost an arm and a leg).The first 16 have already arrived here but many of the rest are outrageously expensive and I'm going to wait until an affordable copy pops up. I'm glad that young(er) people have rediscovered vinyl, but prices have soared because of that development (and new pressings usually suck, so they are hardly ever an option).I will get into all of that on a separate page around here one of these days, but I didn't purchase these LPs for sonic reasons ... I already have excellent-sounding digital versions of all of these albums.I bought them purely for nostalgic reasons.Once my new reclining chair arrives, I'm planning on sitting in front of my stereo and going old-school.
03 | After having been a member of a small choir in Stuttgart for many years, my wife recently became a member of Karlsruhe's much larger and renowned "Bach Choir" (German website only), which hails from the Protestant church on the market square, a square which constitutes the most significant architectural center of the city. Their first concert this year will be Bach's "St. Matthew's Passion", a three-hour affair.
02 | I'm just about to finally order the reclining chair of my dreams, the one I first saw (in a previous version) more than 10 years ago and fell in love with instantly after I had sat in it for a mere 30 seconds.
My problem was - and is - that I'm 1.92 (6.2 ... for all of you archaic people) and that not a single alternative model on the global market even came close to the comfort this one offered.It also costs an arm and a leg ("maxi" size, multi-move and all black) but, as Germans say, "Nobel geht die Welt zugrunde!". The closest English equivalent I could find is: "There is nothing like doing things in style!", but it doesn't quite get the original meaning across, which says that when the world ends (according to social media, ... any day now), you should go down in style. Or, in a more condensed and simplified version: I'm going out in style when the time comes.
01 | Thin Lizzy [1976/1977] Live and Dangerous. Limited Super Deluxe Edition [8CD]. Mercury (Universal Music), January 2023.
Note: That's the way to get a new year rolling! One of my favorite albums in a perfect edition! This one was gone faster than a truckload of free cocaine in Compton or Watts, but I managed to get a copy via an eBay scalper who only asked for a moderate few Euro extra. Shrinkwrapped. Mint. Gorgeous.
01 | January
02-31 | To make things short, it took us forever to get 80% done at our new place. As we both stated almost every day ... "We have too much stuff!".Getting two households synchronized, households which adhered to similar aesthetic tastes, ended up in us having two of everything, sometimes three or more. For example, we asked a company to build a rather large sideboard for us and the designer, someone who had probably designed thousands of them, asked if we really had that much to store on the 16 shelves. Yes, we did. Plus more.Sometime - in the second or third week of January - things started to jell. We had removed all the superfluous stuff, our kitchen was finally nearing completion and our basement was stuffed to the brim with boxes of stuff which we still need to get rid of.Since then, most of the time was spent on living well, getting back into a somewhat adequate rhythm and, last but not least, taking a ton of stuff to the next landfill .. or handing it out to people who thought they might still be able to use it.On top of all of that, besides my health issues that continued to plague me on a daily basis, we spent lots of time getting acquainted with the new surroundings, finding shops that catered to our needs and making our place comfortable.There's still a lot missing: we still do not have a single picture or painting up on the walls (but we have thirty in storage far from here), lights were ordered and still need 6 weeks to be delivered and installed, furniture items are missing, etc. But, things are beginning to look brighter.
01 | The beginning of 2023 disappeared down the same rabbit hole that the end of 2022 did. But we managed to dive into the new year on a positive note. We slept in late. ;-)