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spacer Merry Christmas

2009-12-23

It's the afternoon of December 23rd, I'm pretty tired these days because - as you might have noticed due to no update since October - I was unbelievably busy with work. I'm not done with many jobs yet, but I'm done for now. I take a break over Christmas, look forward to free hours, time spent with friends, nice talks and good food. Early Sunday morning I'll be on the ferry to Spiekeroog where I'll stay until New Year's Eve. Chances are pretty good, that the island will be covered in snow. Maybe I'll even have a white Christmas at my place if the remaining snow resists the warmer temperatures.

I just downloaded photos from two months from my camera to my Mac. I've been taking many pictures during various trips and events in the past weeks, but never got the chance to sort them or put them together for my website. I won't do that tonight either because I really have to get away from this computer. I look forward to charging my batteries at the North Sea. I promise to be back with all the pictures you've missed recently and that are worth to be watched in my opinion.

For now I want to wish you a Merry Christmas! Take care and have a happy New Year.
There will be a special something on December 31st ... Enjoy what happens once in a blue moon ... You can read more about it here.

listening to ...
Jose Feliciano - Feliz Navidad

spacer bitte zurückbleiben

2009-10-26

Good evening dear visitor. After several weeks I am back with a new entry. I didn't mean to stay away from here for such a long time but I was really, really busy (I still am by the way and I am thankfoll for that). A dutch company liked my website and asked for a presentation of ideas, but that's already one year ago. Time went by and not much happened but suddenly everything accelerated. Contracts were signed and I was hired to assist them with their new corpoate design and helped preparing a fair in Chicago. I had a lot of fun working with them because it is a very international company with employers from England and Canada and most conversations switched from german to dutch and english every minute. The fair is over now and things have slowed down. After many weekends and evenings of work to assist my other customers that were partly neglected, I am back to a more normal workload. But not only did I give my ideas and knowledge - I also learned a lot and I really hope I can work on some smaller jobs for them in the future.

But of course there was more than just work in my life. I had the chance to spent a couple of days away from my home. If you read the last sentence of my last entry carefully you probably guessed one of the locations. "Bitte zurückbleiben" seemed like a good headline for this entry because I never heard that term before when travelling by underground in Germany. I heard it many times when I was in ... Munich. *sigh* I didn't really know what to expect. You have to know, that so far I disliked the Bavarian dialect and also disliked everything that has to do with all the proud traditions. I have to admit - I completely fell in love with Munich.

I was so biased, that I closed my eyes to everything that has to do with the south of Germany. And I can't even tell you why. As a child I sometimes went to southern Germany for vacation. My mother travelled with me to the Black Forest, the Bodensee or even more southern like Austria or Switzerland - and I always liked those vacatons. Several years ago I flew to Munich but I only saw the airport because I was on my way to the Tegernsee where I visited a paper company in Gmund. Unfortunately I didn't have a didital camera at that time so you'll probably never see the pictures I took back then.

Many people come to Munich as a tourist and so did I. I think it's funny to be there as a German tourist. I've never seen so many Americans in one place outside America - it was unbelievable. But now I can say that I understand a lot more why Germany is mostly known for Bier und Lederhosen in other countries. My visit there felt like being inside the basic idea of Germany or the archetype of it. I assume that I had a very stupid look on my face when I saw the first men and women in traditional costumes on the street ... and there were a lot of them. On that second weekend of June the annual townparty (I don't know if this term is correct) took place and the city was extremely crowded. Most of my time was of course filled with sightseeing because everything was so new to me. I try to show you around a little with the pictures I took. So you can follow me around a bit. I stayed at the Holiday Inn (which was pretty nice) and the Westin Grand Arabella Sheraton, which was one of the most amazing hotels I have ever stayed in. The room was on the 16th floor and I had an amazing view on the far away Alps and the Frauenkirche. One of the evenings was filled with the Get-Together-Party of the Citric 2009 TechEdge. Great entertainment and great food and drinks - there'a a long story behind that but I skip that chapter now.

A Biergarten is something that almost every pub in Germany claims to have. But what I've seen so far was nothing compared to the Biergärten in Munich. I had seen pictures but it's even more beautiful to sit under those giant chestnut trees and drink a cold beer. Speaking of which ... I had my first Mass beer on Sunday morning in the English Garden at the foot of the Chinese Tower. It took me a while to figure out how to properly hold the beer mug. Allthough I didn't time it, I think I needed two hours to drink the beer ... If someone had told me earlier that I would enjoy a cold beer in a Biergarten with traditional Bavarian music in the background I had laughed out loud. But I really enjoyed it. Amongst a lot of tourists there were many local visitors and the atmosphere was so relaxed on that amazing sunny Sunday morning that I didn't want to leave at all. A lot of students chilled in the meadow, played games or studied. I was really impressed by the buildings of the university and university library near the Leopoldstraže. Some of the streets were similar to grand boulevards in Paris.

I am sad because I am sure that I forgot a lot already that I wanted to tell you. Perhaps some memories return to me when I select the pictures I took. So if you like Munich, I can understand you and I really, really hope to go back there soon to hear "Bitte zurückbleiben" in the subway again.

I went away for another interesting weekend a couple of weeks ago in August when I visited the hotel and restaurant of an award winning chef who is very famous in Germany - Johann Lafer. I love to cook and though I dislike some of the currently very popular TV shows I admire his way of handling food. His restaurant is in an old castle - the Stromburg. I didn't exactly know what to expect from the food I was supposed to eat there but I can tell you it was delicious. Can you believe that he has wine for 2.700 Euro per bottle on his wine card (which had more the size of a thick photo album)?. I tasted things I never tasted before and the definite highlight of the weekend was Mr. Lafer himself showing up in the restaurant, walking to every table and talking to the guests. It was very late already and some of the guests had already left. I didn't expect to see him there at all because he is so popular and has staff for everything. He looked tired, his cooking uniform was wrinkled and I assume he spent the evening in the kitchen, cooking.

It was dark already and I walked around a bit under a starry sky through the castle in a warm night before I went to sleep. Probably you really have to like cooking a lot to understand my enthusiasm but I was really happy on that evening.

I spent two nights there, the first night with almost no sleep because a really loud rave was going on in the village at the feet of the castle, but it was fun trying to dance myself to sleep =)

I probably post pictures of the Stromburg with the next update. Goodbye for now.

listening to ...
Marit Larsen - If a Song Could Get Me You

spacer are we human or are we dancers

2009-06-08

... those were the last words I heard from Paul van Dyks Set when he remixed "Human" from the Killers. He really knows how to control the audience (in a positive way). Everybody had the hands up in the air, sang and I had a lump in my throat. Once again the Mayday was a great and loud night and for the first time I used Ohropax because the bass hurt my ears. I can't understand how people stand in front of the giant boxes and speakers to wait for somebody or even talk to each other. After the Members of Mayday set, we (4 girls this year) went outside to get some food, water and use the bathroom. Inside the bathroom I had the feeling, the Westfalenhalle was ripped down. Westbam had started his set and he was so incredibly loud that everything was moving and I wondered how the walls of the building could stand the vibrations. The bathroom window was open and I could see that it had started to rain. Fresh air came in and I took a deep breath. Nobody else was using the bathroom at that moment and though there was this incredible noise around me, this was one bizarre and calm moment.

Back in the sweaty and smoke filled hall we went up to the gallery, drank some water and relaxed for a moment while watching thousands of people dance to Westbam. Suddenly somebody jumped out of the crowd onto the stage and started dancing. Another guy tried to follow him, but was stopped by a security guard. I couldn't believe there were only two guards in front of the stage. One of them tried to catch the first guy who made it onto the stage and ran away - making his rounds around Westbam and his turntables. It was an unbelievable funny sight to watch the security chasing the dancer and the crouwd applauded frenetically. But the guy was finally brought down by some other people on the stage. Westbam seemed to be calm all the time - and amused because he went down from his platform, waved at the cheering people and ran two rounds around his turntables to show that everything was ok. Again I didn't bring my camera but this year the control was really lame. They didn't seem to be interested into cameras. I took some pictures with my mobile, but a friend brought her camera and she'll give me a CD with the pictures she took. So there'll probably be a Mayday II gallery in the seasonal section.

It seems that the five days in Italy are already years ago. It was great, it rained most of the time and the vacation was too short. I've visited Cinqueterre years ago and when I returned to the village of Levanto nothing much had changed. I didn't remember everything, but after a while I recognized buildings and places. Cinqueterre is a wonderful region in Liguria and east of Genua. The five main villages are connected via train and a path along the coast. This path offers beautiful views of the villages and the Mediterranean sea and the quality varies from an easy walk to a challenging task. When I was there the first time I always used the train, but this time I hiked from Riomaggiore to Manarola and then to Corniglia. The spectacular views of the landscape compensate the partly adventurous state of the hiking trails. Sometimes there is no guard rail to the sea below and I even crossed a wooden suspension bridge. If I had known that before I had probably not hiked there. But in the end it was easier than I thought =)

For me Italy is definitely a place where I need time to adjust. The people have a temperament that transfers to me even when I don't talk to them. It's like a vibe in the air. It's this dolce vita when everybody talks loudly to each other across the street. It's the tone of the language when you hear "Ciao ragazza" that gives you the feeling of a very different culture. The giant palm trees, the blooming roses and a very sweet scent in the air from a purple plant that grew everywhere - though the nature was ahead from anything that's growing here at my place, it's the combination of language, people and environment that forms the spirit of Italy.

When you go to a bar - which is usually a place to drink Espreso, but there are also wine-bars - and order a glass of wine, they serve you also a small bowl with olives, nuts or a plate with delicious salty bread, slices of ham or salami. Yum! Anyhow I don't think I could live in Italy, because though it's easy for me to relax there, I can hardly cope with the the temper of the people. It's a very different way of life and it is a delightful one. Believe it or not but I ate Spaghetti with Frutti di Mare three days in a row (in three different restaurants) and they all had a very different quality. I love italian food a lot and the shops that sell food are my favourite places. I bought olive oil, dried herbs, pesto and dried porcini to take some of the mediteranean tastes and scents back home.

The weather was mostly terrible and though I looked at the forecast from home I didn't expect it to be that bad. The rain was worst on the way to Levanto when an unbelievably rain shower near Genua made it impossible to drive faster that 20 km/h on the motorway. But then there are the moments when the sun comes out and rays of light shine across the sea and all is good. I hope you enjoy the pictures I took.

There is one more "set of pictures" I prepared for you. I went to the exhibition "Sternstunden" in the Gasometer in Oberhausen. What attracted me most were the pictures and reports I saw and read when the exhibition was announced. They show the biggest moon on earth - it's the biggest model of the moon that was ever made. The Gasometer is 117 metres high and has three floors for exhibitions. When you're standing on the top floor there are still 90 metres to the ceiling and that's where a moon with a diameter of 25 metres hang. You can't see the moon when you're going inside the Gasometer, but when you look around the corner of the stairs on the second floor ... there it is. It's a bit scary to see the moon so big, but it is also very spectacular. I stood there in awe for several seconds before I slowly walked up to take a closer look. You can walk under the moon, walk around it and even go up above it with an illuminated escalator to the roof. There are spheric sounds in the background constantly and several lamps simulate the phases from new moon to full moon. It was really difficult to take good pictures in the exhibition because there was almost no light, but I hope you get an idea of it when you look at my photos.

Next weekend I'll be away once more for a couple of days ... to visit the first and only Apple store in Germany (amongst other bits and pieces of sightseeing). I wish I had had a chance to do that earlier. Goodnight and bye for now.

listening to ...
a-ha - foot of the mountain

spacer happy easter

2009-04-11

After weeks of low temperatures the warmth has come and the trees and bushes are green and in full bloom. I am breaking my habit of travelling to the north and go south to North-Italy (in the area of Genua) for some days in the next week. It's been around 25 degrees outside today and that's my limit of feeling comfortable. Nevertheless it was really nice out in the sun today and I hope it's not warmer in Italy. I'm looking forward to some days without work and to a totally different landscape. Enjoy the Easter holidays - I'll see you again soon =)

listening to ...
Eric Prydz - Piano

spacer awakening

2009-03-11

Every year around March I am amazed about the bright green tips in the garden, showing me that hibernation is over. The snowdrops usually peek out in December already, but last weekend when the sun came out for a few hours I even discovered the first bloosoms of the Liverleaf, whom I love most with their white, round stamen. During the rest of the year they live a pretty modest life with their beautifully shaped leaves but now in the late winter they're adorable. I wonder how many plants in the garden didn't surive the cold temperatures. Some don't look that happy, but I hope they make it somehow and reveal fresh green under the dried leaves.

As promised in my last entry I add some pictures of the snow to the seasonal section. It's not much I have to show due to my sickness, but it's a nice memory of those cold days. A couple of years ago the neighbours came up with the idea of throwing a spontaneous snowparty as soon as there was enough snow one day. This year they finally made it real. Word of mouth made many neighbours gather on a Friday evening around an old barrel with burning wood and a small table carrying vacuum flasks with mulled wine and hot plum wine. Somebody brought a grill and another one threw in some sausages and rolls. I joined the party for the time it took me to drink a beer because I was still a bit week on my knees from the cold. The heat from the fire made most of the people stay until 2 or 3 in the morning. In the end when they were nearly running out of wood somebody offered to burn his dry Christmas tree. I wasn't there anymore to see it, but I was told that the flames shot up really high when it landed in the barrel. The remains of that tree still lean on the fence next to the place where the barrel stood. I wonder if ever somebody will clear it away. Back at home I saw the full moon shining into the snowy garden. The light was magic and I tried to capture it but I was too tired to get my tripod which had probably led to better pictures, but they're still rather nice. Perhaps I'll get another chance in the winter to come.

Alow me to change the topic here. I already mentioned it briefly in my last entry how I feel about the economic crisis. When I read the local newspaper at breakfast and turn to the business section I almost every day discover the same news. The left column tells me about the dismissal of thousands of people and the right column is filled with names of companies that go into administration. The center of the page is reserved for companies whose names are in the left or right column in a couple of weeks. It's unbelievable and it scares me. It scares me, that within a few months I have the feeling of slowly becoming blunt to the numbers of unemployed people and the figures of money that is put into companies to keep them on the market. I see brands disappear and stores closing. In my hometown a lot of companies and shops close and leave big gaps behind. I hope this all comes to a good end.

It's probably totally detached from the above context but it seems that there is no Loveparade this year and probably also not in the next year. The cities that are hosting the event in the coming years said that they wouldn't be able to cope with the masses of people that are expected to show up. Of course it is also a matter of money and the security is an immense problem on an event like this. But in my opinion I could also have fun with less glamour, fewer loudspeakers and light installments. It seems that the Mayday is booked solid with about 50 DJs, but I had to hold my breath when I saw the ticket fee of 57, 25 Euro this year. I read that 26.000 people are expected to come. With this fee and so many people loosing their jobs I don't know if they have that number of visitors.

It's almost mid March now. The nature is awakening and the days become longer and warmer. I look forward to spring and spending time outside, but I almost miss the comfy feeling of a dark winter evening, when it's warm and cozy inside the house. However I am glad I live in a region, where I can experience the change of season - year by year. I do have the feeling, that the last year went by in a flash again. The days pass so fast that I sometimes feel like living on fast motion. A couple of weeks ago I watched Dead Poet's Society on TV. I still love this movie very much and it reminds me of a very important fact - Carpe Diem. Those of you who have seen the film might remember it from time to time. Never forget to seize this day and simply enjoy it. There's a full moon today as well - a reason to seize the night as well =)

listening to ...
Enya - May it be

spacer back =)

2009-01-31

I'm back in the new year and I see, that you are back as well =) Like people at many other places I didn't have a white Christmas, but I think I have to get used to this. If I remember it correctly, my last white Christmas is eight years ago. But when January was about one week old the snow decided to come. Parts of Germany experienced -20 degrees while temperatures in my hometown were about -15 degrees (Celsius). Just before those temperatures arrived it snowed and the cold made the snow last for nearly two weeks. Unfortunately I fell sick and even stayed in bed for one and a half days. That's the reason why I didn't get the chance to go outside and take as many pictures as I wanted of the beautiful snowy landscape, but I took some and put them online soon.

When Christmas was over I was of course most excited about going to Spiekeroog. The ferry to the island left the harbour really early this time and I got up at four in the morning to make sure I was there on time. Upon arrival at the North Sea it was still completely dark and unbelievably cold. I spent most of the Christmas days indoors and being outside at that time in the morning with the wind chill felt probably colder than it was because I simply wasn't used to it. Neuharlingersiel has built a new dock and harbour building in the past years and I was a bit lost, but after a while I saw a lot of workers at the ticket sale and the lading of the luggage, that I remembered from all the years before and I soon felt home again.

When I had bought my ticket, stored my suitcase in a container there was still a lot of time left before I could board the ferry. I put up the hood of my jacket, pulled my scarf as tight as possible and went to the buildings that are huddled around the oval cutter harbour just a few hundred metres away. The sun sent some pink hues into the sky and the salty smell tickled my nose. Some early seagulls sat on the posts where the ships land and pull around the ropes. Some cutters had fairy lights around their masts and the sky slowly turned deep blue while the buildings around the smalll habour glowed deep golden. I took some first pictures and was both surprised and happy about the sudden calm I felt. There was one bakery that was already open and selling fresh rolls. I ate my roll at the harbour wall and looked at all the pretty buildings and ships - remembering many happy days I spent here as a child. But eventually it was time to go aboard and leave for the island.

The sky turned pink, the onshore wind turbines faded and the island came closer - the beginning of five amazing days away from my daily routine. The first thing you see is a hilly, green stripe at the horizon and after some more minutes you see red roofs peeking out of the green. Once the ferry has landed, it becomes a bit hectic. Friends greet each other at the quay, everybody looks for the luggage-containers and finally a long line of people walks over the dike - almost like a procession - into the village to find their hotels or appartments. The sound of talking people and the clattering of the trolleys fades, some seagulls shout, some dogs bark ... then it's silent as if the island has taken everyone into a big hug. And I think I've written myself into a lovestory here ... but it's exactly like that - and it feels good that it's always been like that. It's a routine that clearly tells you, that the sound of the sea and wind is probably the loudest thing you'll hear for a while. You can forget about everything else - you're on vacation now.

Spiekeroog is really small, but there are so many things I haven't seen yet and of course also change is happening. There is one big new house for all kind of classes from paintig to drumming and this definitely shows a change to a certain visitor they hope to attract. I appreciate that along with the ecological endeavours that are undertaken. You'll find plenty of organic grown food in the stores and restaurants though I believe a part of that good intention gets lost by transporting all the food and other products onto the island over a long distance.

For the first time I visited "Wittbülten", an institution that covers environmental protection on the island (I hope I got this description right). After a walk of 2 kilometers in the cold I had a hot cocoa before I walked through the exhibition where you can stroke a sand dab, feed a lobster and learn a lot about the island's history. One of the people who are responsible for the exhibition told me, that after a very long time a sea eagle has come to the island that had probably been attracted by a dead seal on the beach. I was very excited and on my way back to the village I took a long detour through the dunes, but I didn't see the eagle.

If you look at my pictures you'll see how wonderful the weather was most of the time. A clear blue sky and a frosted landscape. Except for the morning when I went to the eastend. The weather was nice in the beginning but a terrible wind came up and I had to walk in an 45 degree angle to move ahead until I was totally numb from the cold. I can tell you, that the mulled wine I had when I was back in the village never tasted so good before.

The daily routine returned sooner than I wanted, but those days were good for me. Amongst other things I looked at this website when I was home again. The annual shoving of images from the seasonal section to the archive had to be done. As you might have noticed I thought of a php solution that would help me in the future to simplify things. But once I was done with it I was unhappy with the result because the list of archived months is getting too long now to look proper on the right side of the layout and I will make one more change and drop the months in favour of a list of years with one main site per year. It is possible, that not all links are working because I missed to correct them. I'm sorry for that and I'll fix things in the upcoming weeks.

I still like the look of this site though it's here for quite a while now, but I don't think I'll change it in the near future. I also think I will lack the time for creating a new layout. Mid December I had the feeling my job situation became rather quiet. I started making plans for aquiring new clients and frowned at the economic sitation that's currently out there in the world. I don't know, what you're doing these days and how you make your living, but you probably also look at what's happening with the economy right now as well. There are things going on that are beyond your or my control. I am looking for answers of how to respond to the daily bad news of people loosing their jobs and businesses that have to close. I looked for websites and blogs of small companies who have similar worries. I found one blog that put my thoughts into words and pretty much reflects my stand: Push harder! Don't turn away any work that comes through your door, aim higher and take on as much as you can. The challenge is to do the best work ever in a speedy way without lowering sights on the quality. That doesn't mean to start into this year with blind enthusiasm but there is still enough work out there!

There are more things I want to say, but I postpone that to my next update. I hope you like the new pictures =) Have a good time!

listening to ...
The Island - My Name is Lincoln

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