through and through

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Graffiti in a tunnel under the Friedensengel that reads, ‘through and through

 

 

Aside from a few glimmers of the sun peaking through, it’s been a very dark late autumn here in Munich. Not that it’s an issue now, because although it’s been particularly wet the last few days, the sun is out in full force today.

All that grey darkness is but a memory today.

Yet, I find myself looking at this graffiti/painting every time I’m walking through the tunnel under the Friedensengel here in Bogenhausen.

Through and through, indeed.

The eagle and the lamb…wonder what that’s about. Any ideas?

Social media strategies: what NOT to do

 

Have been doing more freelance work with social media recently, and this cartoon had me chuckling. How many times have you been stumbling round the web, and one of your friends, that you thought wasn’t so bad, made one of these blunders.

No emo status updates people. Truly – it’s just bad form. The Complainer’s Gambit fits into that category, if you ask me.

Want to ruin your chances of being hired for that job you really wanted? Try the second one in the cartoon above. If I scroll through your wall or stream on a given site, and you’re involved in any sort of debauchery, good luck to you and yours.

Now, I know there are exceptions. There are some rock and roll musicians and even a few criminally insane artists in my circle of acquaintances. They get a pass on this one. It’s almost as if they increase their street red by being a bit mental.

I’m not going to name check any of them, though. This isn’t that sort of blogpost.

Now, I’m going to have to make a confession when it comes to the third and final example in the cartoon above. If you know me on social media, you’re already aware that I can go into a sort of fugue state of sharing on occasion.

It’s not something I’m proud of, I assure you. Once I get started, I’m like the people they talk about in those potato crisps advertisements…I simply can’t have just one.

 

 

 

 

Once you get a taste of The Daily Argus, you can’t get enough

This YouTube video made my day, and I was already having a rather good one to begin with. A good day, that is. It’s a Vizsla trying to get a Tater Tot…the YouTube blurb says that after the taping, Argus eventually got the object of his desire. Heart warming, eh?

You know this is my favourite breed, right? I haven’t blogged about them in a good long while, but I’ve got sister and brother Hungarian Vizslas called Ella and Louis.

They are the centre of my world. It’s hard to describe how much joy they bring me daily. I had a friend in college, whose mother was Hungarian, and the family had a Vizsla boy dog. He was such a sweet and intelligent hound.

My family growing up always rescued dogs from animal shelters, and I continue to think that adoption is normally the best option for house pets. However, when I met that first Vizsla more than 20 years ago, I vowed that one day I’d have one of these dogs.

And what a joy it’s been.

So, after seeing the above video with dear Argus, I was thrilled to learn he’s even got his one blog. Can you believe it? Look, here it is:

The Daily Argus

Isn’t that delightful. And they’re even in Austin, which is one of my old stomping grounds. Wonder if I’ll run into Argus when I’m back over there visiting family at some point.

This reminds me: For years, I’ve considered writing some sort of fiction (or nonfiction even) with Ella and Louis as either the subjects or the main characters. I’ve got so many photos of them from when they were puppies, as well as throughout their lives, and even up to just last week. Endless photos, I’m telling you. Doesn’t matter how many I’ve taken of them wrestling and posing and panting, I can’t seem to get enough.

Is that something you think people would be interested in? Stories of Ella and her slightly slower brother Louis? Would you read that?

There have always been some people who follow me online just to see more photos of these gorgeous dogs. Well, here’s one for the likes of you:

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Much younger Ella and Louis basking in the sunlight

Oh, by the way. Thanks again to Argus for giving me a reason to blog about my favourite dogs. That video with the Tater Tot showed perseverance, didn’t it?

Paid in Guinea Pigs

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Here’s a book about the little sea pigs

For a long time, Elaine said that she would only be paid in Guineas. Because someone insisted that Guineas are not legal tender, she’s now accepting Guinea Pigs instead.

So, while we were chatting about it, I remembered that I had a book about Guinea Pigs in German. However, they don’t use that word – they’ve got their own German word for these animals.

They’re called Meerschweinchen, which directly translated ‘Meer‘ means ‘sea‘ and ‘Schweinchen‘ means ‘little pig‘. Weirdly enough, when Germans talk about these little furry mammals, they’re referring to them as ‘little sea pigs‘.

If you want to reimburse Elaine for any work she does for you, you’ll need to pay her in that currency.

Simply staring out the window

 

Staring out the window one day long ago in Hamburg

Staring out the window one day long ago in Hamburg

Stumbling round the web today, I happened upon a New York Times article that was talking about how our brains work. The whole thing is worth reading, so I’ll link to it here:

Hit the Reset Button in Your Brain

However, you don’t need to read the whole thing to get what I thought was the best part. Never hurts if you can slide the word stick-to-itiveness into a sentence…here, enjoy:

This two-part attentional system is one of the crowning achievements of the human brain, and the focus it enables allowed us to harness fire, build the pyramids, discover penicillin and decode the entire human genome. Those projects required some plain old-fashioned stick-to-itiveness.

But the insight that led to them probably came from the daydreaming mode. This brain state, marked by the flow of connections among disparate ideas and thoughts, is responsible for our moments of greatest creativity and insight, when we’re able to solve problems that previously seemed unsolvable. You might be going for a walk or grocery shopping or doing something that doesn’t require sustained attention and suddenly — boom — the answer to a problem that had been vexing you suddenly appears. This is the mind-wandering mode, making connections among things that we didn’t previously see as connected.

Did you read that? Daydreaming mode. That’s the best mode. I excel at that one.

Have had some long meandering conversations this summer with some of my favourite people, and quite an unlucky few have difficulty with down time. Time when they don’t actually have to be doing something. It’s a topic I find myself coming back to again and again.

Writing and playing music and teaching are all things that I enjoy. They bring me untold pleasure, and I shine when I’m in my element. Yet, if there’s one thing I’m exceptionally good at, it’s idling. Doing as little as possible.

You don’t put much value in such a thing? Yes, I suppose I get that. Probably not going to change your mind on this one, anyway, which is why I was so thrilled to see the above-mentioned article. Don’t take my word for it.

The creative answers that make the breakthroughs? They don’t necessarily come when you buckle down and try harder. They just might materialise while walking the dogs or catching a street car. Or the one of the best scenarios for daydreaming?

Simply staring out the window.

Go ahead and try it. You’ll be glad you did.

 

The Media’s ‘Silly Season’ is Upon us – What the Germans call the Sommerloch

This originally appeared in MunichNOW, which you can find here:

The Media’s ‘Silly Season’ is Upon us – What the Germans call the Sommerloch

We have entered what the Germans call the Sommerloch, which is yet another example of a German word for a situation that we did not even know was needed. Directly translated, this is the ‘summer hole‘, but for some it is more colloquially referred to as the media’s ‘silly season‘.

To fully understand this phenomenon, one first has to understand that many Europeans are on holiday for the entire month of August. Small shops are closed and getting a craftsman to do even the smallest job is inconceivable. Politicians are far away from their constituents, and as a result, there is little traditional news to report . Because these newsmakers are absent, journalists are left to write about topics that would not normally make it into the news.

Several years ago, a lot of both real and virtual ink was spilled to describe Yvonne the wild cow which had miraculously escaped from a slaughterhouse in Upper Bavaria. A few years previously, there was an octopus who could accurately predict World Cup game winners.

One of the most recent examples of such stories we read only last week on the German news site Focus Online. We were alerted to the plans that some Swiss had to annex regions of Southern Germany; culturally and philosophically, the southerners are far more aligned with the Swiss than with Northern Germany, after all.

These feel-good stories would perhaps otherwise be mentioned in the local section of a regional paper, but for a few weeks in the summer they receive unexpected national and even international exposure. Whether this is proper news is debatable at best – and certainly laughable.

In English, we might say that we are having a slow news day. In this case, we have an entire season of it. In Germany, we are right in the middle of the Sommerloch.

Ode to Joy

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Tonight’s the Eurovision Song Contest, and during the voting they’re singing Ode to Joy and climbing ladders. As one does.

I don’t care how camp this thing is, I watch it every year, mock it on twitter and laugh at the voting from the countries that couldn’t get their entry into the Finals.

If you have no idea what this is, I’m not sure you want to research it. My parents were visiting me one year during the weekend when the Grand Prix was on. They watched it with me and were completely baffled by the whole ordeal.

This year? I suppose the bearded lady from Austria. Or the Polish maidens churning butter & washing clothes. Yes, that was a thing.

It’s a bit like an annual World Cup for the Homosexualists. Was that an insensitive comment? I can live with that.