Sunday, June 27, 2010

Sunday afternoon in Germany

If you were to play a word association game with me, and you asked "what does Sunday in Germany" suggest to you, my first thought would be "boring". (Here I am talking about a typical Sunday rather than one with an England German football game.) Most of the shops are shut on a Sunday, so the place feels a bit dead.

If pressed to come up with something other than "boring", I would say "the A-team". They used to show the A-team on Sunday afternoons, and I would watch it as I ate my lunch. I would never have guessed that the A-team show would be shown in Germany. Last week I saw part of the episode of the A-team, where Boy George starred. Why was Boy George in the A-team. Well many people think that it was because he was taking a lot of hard drugs and that clouded his judgment.

This is how I get through a Sunday afternoon in Germany.

On football

As I get older I seem to be more interested in football. Eight years ago I rang up the passport office in Liverpool to get an interview for the renewal of my passport. The voice on the phone sounded very suspicious of me. This was particularly annoying because he had a Northern Island accent. Midway through the conversation he said "your country has just scored a goal in the world cup". I suddenly thought, "oh my God. I can see why he was suspicious. I just hope on one ever finds out."

I thought I should know more about football, particularly as a number of people have asked me to predict the score of today's England Germany game Instead of getting a book that explains what the fu*k a 4-2-2-1 system is, I ended up with Why England Lose by Simon Kuper and Stefan Szymanski. This book uses statistical and economics techniques to analyze international football games. This was a popular book, so was not full of equations, but had stories in it as well. They claimed that a model of England's success at winning games was a constant probability of something like 0.67. I don't think there is enough data on games to build a more complicated model, so that it could predict the number of goals in a game. If could I would create an Android application and perhaps earn 10 pounds.

The Guardian were not impressed with the book.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

On questions

Although we tell the students that "no question is too stupid", that is not entirely true. Occasionally I have seen someone ask question that has taken my breath away, because it has shown the person has no idea what they are doing.

So sometimes, to my shame, I will not ask a basic question, because I worry what other people might think of me.

In today's German class we were told (again, because I had forgotten) family status:

verwitwet -- widowed
geschieden -- divorced
getrennt -- seperate
I almost put up my hand to ask, that for completeness we should know the word for bigamy. But I though this was one of those questions that would ruin my relationship with the teacher, because she would think I was being cheeky. But you just never know when a word will be needed.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

On sweat

I don't want to sound as tough I am complaining about the weather in Wupopertal. It has been warm, but there always is the threat of rain in the air. As a result I usually wear a coat, and this means I sweat a lot.

As the saying goes: "horses sweat, men perspire, and women only glow". In my case even the mildest activity causes a river to flow out of my pores. I was embarrassed last week when after walking to work, I went into the little cafe near my office. My T-shirt was drenched in sweat. I certainly thought of all the adverts I had seen on TV, where a man loses his girlfriend because he sweats, or a man looks cool, because he doesn't sweat after rushing around an airport.

I feel slightly resentful that I am not allowed to sweat in public. I don't go around hugging people, so what does it matter? When I see my sweat I think of all the toxins that are leaving my body. I could of course go to a sauna to sweat in private, but I hear such tales about such places, and I am more of a massage parlor kind of guy.

After watching many TV adverts I know that all I need to do is to use more deodorant. I have been experimenting with spraying my back as well. On Wednesday I huffed and puffed my way up the hill to the front door of my flat. There was a beautiful women at the door ringing a bell of one of the flats. She was wearing an elegant black dress, and looked as though she was going out for a stylish and expensive. I let her into the building. She got into the lift with me to go up the door of her friend. She wasn't visibly repulsed, by so the use of the additional deodorant is beginning to work its magic. How could I doubt the advertising.

Thursday, June 17, 2010


I have been trying to read the English language version of Spiegel to get a German perspective on the news. I was amused by the article about England's draw with the USA at the football world cup. I particularly like their idea of what to paint on the football to help the English goal keepers.

In the article they mention that every German knows that the third goal in the game where England won the world cup was not a real goal. What? I am trying to repress this knowledge. What if I get asked the question, "so what did you learn in Germany," and I say "you know that third goal ...". I would be on the ground getting a good kicking in microsecond, and that is the best case that I am talking to a family member or friends. Best to forget about getting a German perspective.

dreaming work

I have been having a lot of work related dreams recently.

Many years ago I stopped lying in bed worrying about how much work I have to do, because I can't function without enough sleep. If I don't sleep because I was worried about work, then I get less work done the next day because I am sleepy, I would lie awake and worry more. This is known as negative feedback. Anyway, these days if I start dreaming stressful work dreams, I religiously change the dream into a more sexual theme. I need need my rest and I have appetites like everyone else.

I did sleep badly on Sunday, because as soon as I closed my eyes, I saw vivid blue colours. I then spent a lot of time thinking "I must remember this for my blog." So sleep didn't come fast.In one of my work related dreams, I found myself criticizing a local colleague. This was received very badly by the people I was talking to, and I ended up backing down in a humiliated matter. Trouble, with all the dreams I have been having, I started to worry that this incident happened in the real world, and the dream was just an echo of that.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Love Cast Out All Evil

Friends can you remember the time before the internet, when the only way to find new music was to walk around a record shop. I used to buy CDs or tapes that looked cool, but then I wouldn't know much about the artist. In some sense this was a better time, it does effect my judgement when I find out about an artist, rather than just listening to their sounds.

When I used to live in Kentucky I found a CD by Roky Erickson, and it was loud explosive and awesome. After that I would look out for CDs, and buy then whenever I found them. He was never that prolific though.

With the Internet I now know of Roky's rocky history with mental illness. I did try to listen to the "13th floor elevators" the famous band he was in during the 60s, but I didn't get too much into it. However, I really like the electric jug playing that you can see them play on Youtube.

Anyway Roky Erickson has a new album out and it is great! I have been listening to it as I walk to work. Forget the Guardian review

Sunday, June 13, 2010

On Jazz

I probably own less than 10 Jazz CDs, I wouldn't say I dislike Jazz. Occasionally I have come across a part of Jazz concert on TV and I have been put off by the long solos. Too much technique

There have been odd exceptions. In that I really like John Coltrane, but mostly I have not really tried to get into Jazz.

I was amused one time to hear that Alistair Cook who did the letter from America slot on the radio5 for many years tell a story, about playing a Jazz record to his mum. She burst into tears, because she regarded Jazz as for criminals and drug fiends. (This was before pop and rock I might add). This struck me as cool. There is a Jazz connection to the wildness of the Beat generation of course. But while their life style was wild, I was unconvinced by the music.

After having my musical tastes broadened by the freakzone radio show, I found that I like Free Jazz. Some people think it is chaotic, but that is what I like about it. The video below is by Ornette Coleman (Dancing In Your Head). Its groovy.

The Romantic Manifesto

I needed a book while I washed my clothes. So the last couple of sessions I have been reading "The Romantic Manifesto" by Ayn Rand.

The start of the blurb at the back of the book goes like: "in this beautifully written and brilliantly reasoned book, Ayn Rand throws a light on the nature of the art...." So you can see that humility is not one of her strong points.

I do like that she tried to write a philosophical novels (although she doesn't like the term). She is very keen on plot. After reading her discussion of music, I wouldn't try to introduce the Fall to her.

I would like to just say that I view "Atlas shrugged" as an evil book. In this Southpark agree with me.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

my secret shame

Although I am (sort of) enjoying learning German, one problem is that we are expected to speak about the past and our feelings. Both of which I am not very good at, even if using English.

Today was a low point. I was asked to tell the class about famous building in the UK. I would like to point out, that although I was technically born in Southampton, I grew up in the North West of England, so that is where my sympathies lie. I start sweating when I am in the South of England (and that is not because it is hotter there) and I feel paranoid.

So when I started looping through the famous buildings of the UK, my mind went blank, and I could only think of famous buildings in London. Oh, the shame of it. Will I ever be able to walk down a street in Manchester again? The teacher kept saying can you mention any famous buildings outside London, but only a list of London buildings came from my mouth.. I suddenly had an inspiration and said the name of famous building associated with satanism, called Old Trafford. Oh the shame of it! Will I ever be able to walk down a street in Liverpool again?

I felt like Judas. The London mafia has brainwashed me.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Japanese festival in Dusseldorf

Last Saturday I went to the Japanese festival in Dusseldorf. The fstival was held on the bank of the Rhein close to the Aldstadt. There was a big firework display that I didn't stay for, because it didn't start to till late.

The festival had a lot of stalls that sold Japanese stuff and food. The food was a bit disappointing. They had to serve a lot of people, so there wasn't a sushi chef there, just the prepared boxes. I did get to drink a glass of Saki, so that was good. There were a lot of people wearing Japanese costumes. There were also a lot of Goths wearing black, but they could have also been characters from Manga. Who could tell. There were a number of people wearing Samurai swords. Perhaps they were fake, but I don't think so. I don't see that the British police would have been too happy to see swords at a UK festival.

An Englishman's home is a castle

I don't want to sound paranoid but I don't like answering the door, unless I know an appointment has been made. It is more likely to be someone who is trying to sell me something.

So I was not best pleased to hear the bell. I went to the door and pressed the intercom button. This was a good opportunity to try some German, so I said "yes". No response. So I thought good. A minute later the bell went again and then even worse there was a knock on my door of my flat.

I opened the door. A man and a woman stared at me. The man started talking to me in English. They were some kind of missionaries, who wanted to send me to some Bible school. I was just going to get my horse whip, when I remembered that I didn't have one. I did think of inviting them in to have a theological discussion on the balcony. "Yes that is an interesting point. Just let me get hold of your legs..."

After a short conversation I ended up with a book that I didn't want. The guy was very persuasive, so I have the horrible suspicion that they will come back to talk to me about it. Perhaps they will help me win the Templeton prize.

If you are reading this and you are thinking I am some kind of anti-social freak, or the mental illness meter has swung from creative and different to social misfit, because I don't like opening the door. I would like to point out that I am just applying a SPAM filter to the people coming to my door. I also refer you to. Safety first!

a projection of a dream

Last night although I had drunk enough beer to stop me dreaming I had a dream in the early morning. I was talking to a well known physicist about physics. He wanted to make some point about and he pulled out a remote control and used it to project a paper onto the wall.

What would have Freud thought about my dream? I can't even found some great company to produce small portable data projectors, because Amazon already sells them. This is what happens when you spend too much time online, your dreams are inspired by Amazon.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

The girl with the dragon tattoo

I had a lot to do last weekend, so it was a mistake to start reading "The girl with the dragon tattoo" last Sunday. There seem to be a lot of crime writing coming from Sweden. First there was Wallander, and now there are the books by Stieg Larson, and I care about people with names such as Lisabeth Salander and Mikael Blomkvist.

There are two more books in this series that I will have to read fairly soon.