Webcam

November 30, 2006 at 12:40 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Another day, another webcam picture: The cloudy blanket that covers us is a bit more fluffy today. Still, I’d rather be beyond than beneath it.
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English dictionaries

November 29, 2006 at 11:12 am | Posted in Language, Learning English | 2 Comments

Here is my collection of useful and interesting English online dictionaries (a few of them useful for natives of German only ):

For your everyday English language needs:

» Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary – definitions and examples, mainly British English

» Merriam-Webster Online – thesaurus (synonyms), mainly American English

» Princeton WordNet – a lexical database to browse online or to download (thanks to Automatthias)

» www.dict.cc – German/English – use only in combination with one of the dictionaries above

» dict.leo.org – German/English – use only in combination with one of the dictionaries above

Popular English, English of the people:

» Urban Dictionary – user-managed slang dictionary, mainly American English

» Peevish – English slang and colloquialisms used in the United Kingdom

» Online Dictionary of Playground Slang – including school slang, gay slang and nursery rhymes

» Dictionary of English Idioms & Idiomatic Expressions – i.e. not necessarily proverbs

» Word of Quotes, English Proverbs – Ale in, wit out

Life, smothered.

November 28, 2006 at 3:49 pm | Posted in Nature | Leave a comment
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So the Föhn wind that brightened up our weekend has gone and Dornburn is once more smothered by a thick layer of fog.

Here are some shots of Dornburn and the Rhine Valley: the first one is the shot my brother took on Saturday when we hiked up the Karren, and the other ones were spat out by the same mountain’s stationary webcam about fifteen minutes ago.

I’ve uploaded a succession of shots to show how nice the sunsets can be here – in theory, if only one managed to get beyond that thick layer of clouds. I, however, am writing to you from underneath the sad blanket…

Dornburn

Webcam Karren

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Scottish Trivia, pt. 3

November 27, 2006 at 10:04 am | Posted in Entertainment | 5 Comments
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I’ve developed a bit of a tunnel vision for all things Scottish ever since I spent a month in Scotland this year. For this next bit I would not have needed a tunnel vision, though, it came in through Sam’s blog. Apparently, there is a Scottish Wikipedia.

I was in Scotland shortly after Tom Weir (quote: “a Scottish climber, author and broadcaster. He was best known for his long-running television series Weir’s Way”) had died. For the occasion, The Scotman came up with a DVD as an insert to commemorate Weir. Looking for examples of documentaries of different styles, I turned to this DVD that I had nearly forgotten I have, and soon got a little bewitched by it: listening to an old Scotsman explaining the history and countryside is a rather refreshing form of entertainment in the postmodern age. Actually, merely listening to the sound of the Scottish language alone does the trick for me.

Anyhow, the Scottish Wikipedia hasn’t bothered to cover Tom Weir yet – in the meantime, one will have to make do with the English article on Weir.

Antifascist demonstration

November 26, 2006 at 3:43 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Once in a blue moon, there is an antifascist demonstration here in Dornburn.They normally gather at the station (Bahnhof) and as I live in the Bahnhofstraße, they always pass my house. This time I noticed them convening when I walked my brother to the station. I quite like being around left-wing teenagers (if they’re not too drunk;-), although meanwhile I probably look like a bourgeois cow to them. I mingled a bit with the crowd and then went home, thinking about calling Daniel to join me for the demonstration, but made up my mind again. They were already passing my house, so I just joined them.

The sight of roughly two to three hundred teenagers to young adults in full alternative gear has something incredibly refreshing to me:-))) Myself, I was dressed in my pink tartan coat and a pink silk scarf with roses, but actually appreciated the difference. The last time I wore a Palestinian scarf (that the English term for “Palituch”?) myself is well 15 years ago, and I suppose me and my friends didn’t look much different back then (except for the fact that “we” were not as heavily pierced nor tattooed).

Yet, at the present day, I thought it was even more important that a few bourgeois looking people joined the crowd. As a matter of fact, it is a shame how few of the people looking on actually did join (a dozen?). A demonstration against Nazis is in my view a gathering that every citizen is obliged to join, out of decency.

I had two interesting encounters during the demonstration: A guy in his mid-twenties who sold me a socialist pamphlet for € 1,50 and then wanted to know where I came from. Told him from Cologne and that I’d be working here now. Apparently he knew someone from the SSK (Sozialistische Selbsthilfe Köln), a woman whom he had meet on an internship in Vienna. He then asked me where I’d be doing my internship here in Vorradelberg… sweet.

The same comment, yet upside down, was administered to me by another of those pamphlet vendors who wanted my email address so that they could send me updates about the next demonstration, explaining that it would be difficult to keep in touch with “older people”, because the Antifa was a youth movement :-))

The walk through Dornburn took about an hour. I walked close to the float where they had propped up loudspeakers, playing what seemed to be the current antifascist hymns. I really digged the music! Would they be offended if I asked them for a playlist? 🙂

Three people gave speeches on the market place, unfortunately neither of them was a gifted speaker – I thought that this was probably one of the differences between current and past left-wing demonstrations. The youngsters now probably have better music (thanks to better equipment, that is), but we had better speakers 🙂

At one point, a couple of Nazis dared to flash their bald heads and were immediately chased by the crowd – but the police jumped to their protection just as quickly. Eventually they were caught up in a hallway leading up to a bar called John’s. The police didn’t let any demonstrators in, and the Nazis were to stupid to get out (apparently, there was a way out at the back).

I wonder whether all of the demonstrators will grow up to be assimilated, just like most of us. As a crowd, we were distinctly leftist back then, as individuals we were probably the result of our environment more than anything else. Being a leftist (“Linker”) was somehow one of the things to do in Bad Hersfeld if you hung out with people who liked to go to the “Zigeunerkeller” and to “Ismet” (ould have been either that or being part of the posh crew who had the money to drive to and go out in Frankfurt). It was probably easier being left-wing than being nothing, in particular if your parents were not loaded. But if your parents were teachers, it was also not unlikely that you’d end up there – if your parents went to the same pubs as you, they could treat you to a free drink and a free ride home 😉

I don’t blame any of the youth today for being so unpolitical – my political spells are long gone, too. Nevertheless, it’s probably the only chance you’ll get at developing a political conscience: being young and being left-wing probably goes together better than being integrated into society (by means of the jobs we have, the flats we rent, the cars we drive) and being left-wing.

I think it was Kurt Tucholsky (and I am probably wrong) who said that being young obliges to be a socialist – and that being old and still a socialist means that you are stupid.

Happy birthday, bro!

November 25, 2006 at 4:27 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments
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Today is also the 36th birthday of my brother who has come down to Vorradelberg to celebrate. Yesterday we went to dine at the Tokyo Running Sushi Bar in B. Later, we saw the surprisingly funny Wer früher stirbt ist länger tot in the cinema, a film by a Bavarian director whose middle name is the name of the village he comes from (Markus Hausham Rosenmüller).

It’s interesting to have my brother here. From his perspective, Dornburn is a lively little town, 20 times the size of the place where he lives and two times the size of the nearby town where I went to school when I still lived there. To me, its a claustrophobic, paranoia-inducing nightmare, because I have this thing of believing that I can never be myself if I constantly run into people who know me. I either need complete anonymity around me or the reassuring presence of some close friends, a few people I trust. But this scenario of dozens of acquaintances, three quarters of which are work-related, seems to be really getting to me.

A couple of years ago a friend of mine and I tried to describe our favourite positions within a community/society and finally agreed that OFF-CENTER would be the ideal position: being able to observe what’s going own, but remaining unseen oneself. We had a type of invisibility in mind that would allow you to traverse and roam different social fields, but without ever having a particular standing (and in connection with that: responsibility) in any of these spheres.

This, however, is irreconcilable with particular professions, and maybe in general irreconcilable with most types of bourgeois careers.

Lest I get carried away, here are a few pics from today: My brother and I, me and my brother, and a view of Dornburn as seen from the Karren (to allow those who haven’t visited me yet to get an idea of what it looks like – come soon, before it’s too late!)

Birthday Boy

Birthday Boy

Dornbirn

Clicky to see these pictures on Flickr.

EDIT: Yes, we do have a rather dissimilar complexion. He’s pink and I’m yellow. We came out as the opposing extremes of phenotypes from your genetic pool (he could be a bit blonder, though – hey, I realized today that he does not have a single grey hair, in spite of being four years older than me… and I had my first when I was 16!)

German diminutives

November 21, 2006 at 3:36 pm | Posted in German, Language | 2 Comments

It just occured to me that German diminutives are probably some of the cutest sounding words in the world. At least to a Western ear. In particular when they’ve got an Umlaut in them, too. Can anyone think of anything cuter than

Knöchelchen
Mägelchen
Würzelchen
Pfötchen
Öhrchen
etc.

Trick is, however, that you’d have to know how to pronounce the German -ch in diminutives. And I think there is probably only one native of English that I know that knows how to get them right.

There are some audio examples explaining the pronunciation of the -ch (which can take on rather different sounds depending on the context in which it appears), on a website by the University of Exeter, unfortunately it doesn’t hold any examples of a diminutive.

Naked little dead man

November 18, 2006 at 12:23 pm | Posted in Art | 11 Comments

Here is a pic I had promised to send to Johnny Malmedy – apologies for not having done so yet. We went to the Artcologne and its alternative, the artfair, together. He’s covered it in his blog, too.

Didn’t take notes of whose exhibit this one was. We just took photos with our mobiles, like everyone else. Nobody tries to take up information anymore, they just take photos. One day these photos will just dissappear – when they switch to new computers, when our picture CD-roms decompose, when the file standards are changed. And eventually, what has come to be considered the information age, will turn out to be the age of mass destruction of information.

Stick it to the man! This one, for instance:

Naked little man

If you came here because you’re interested in Ron Mueck, you may want to start with this entry in Wikipedia.

Cologne vs Vorradelberg

November 17, 2006 at 5:49 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Ok, this is an easy one. Vorradelberg doesn’t stand a chance against Cologne. I went there two weeks ago and life was just as good as it can only be in Cologne. Exaggeration, apparently, but it’s really a play-off of the city vs. the country side. Who needs the country side? There’s mainly people who never got out of there living there, whose priorities mainly are marrying and having children. Now, there’s nothing wrong with that, but it’s the context that makes all the difference: It has to happen as soon as possible, the wedding must be catholic, a house must be built, the male children must be indoctrinated in becoming real men, the girls are forcibly feminized until they all see no other point in life than doing just the same.

Btw, the gender pay gap in Vorradelberg in 35% (wage per hour after taxes), in the whole of Austria it’s just 18%, and 15% in the EU. That includes all people with an income – if one looks at those who work full time it is an exasperating 64%! Incredible.

One of the many nice things that happened to me in Cologne was this gorgeous party at Hanjo’s neighbour’s house, which would probably have to be referred to as a factory loft–only that he built everything (!) himself. Except the walls and roof. The loft was built into a roughly 8m high former workshop building. It was one of those rare parties where roughly 8 in 10 people are dancing, with the Dj playing nothing but instrumental music from the 60s and 70s and not a single hit among it. We got there two-ish, and I decided to go to sleep there at about 7ish, with Jessi holding out even longer. And I was so happy, the pure form of happiness that can only be achieved through dancing and drinking and talking until the bright day light. Here’s a view from the Rhine when I crossed the bridge the next day.

Allein am Rhein, allein:-)

Two days later I had to return to Vorradelberg, was forced back into the ridiculous corset consisting of title, profession and standing that people put you on here, like it or not. God, I so much long for the city!

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