Friday, September 30, 2011

On tomatoes and class

I am trying to change my eating habits so that the dreaded calories going into my mouth are reduced. To succeed in this I need to add more variety in my diet. So I have been slightly more "adventurous" in the food I buy in the supermarket.

So in the supermarket I saw a box of red shriveled things. So those must be "sun dried tomatoes", I speculated. Will I be able to eat them without turning into a middle class person I thought. Luckily the current Tory government is trying to destroy the middle class by their management of the economy. Cameron and Osborne will only stop when there are two classes CEO and hedge fund traders and everyone else working in Tesco. I didn't realize that Hugh Osborne was the MP for my home town Knutsford. Yeah what a surprise.

I sort of liked the sun dried tomatoes, but I still prefer the fresh kind.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


I am a man of steady habits. I have cut chocolate out of most of my life, except for a bar of chocolate from a vending machine, close to my office, at 11:00. I could get the chocolate bar from the cafe in front of the vending machine and save 15 cents, but the chocolate from the machine is colder, and I like machines.

There is a great film called "the Repo man", that has a song that goes something like "when the shit hits the fan." One of the crazy characters, perhaps a scientist, has a long speech where he claims he only eats food from vending machine, because he likes the surprise that when he orders something, he might get something completely different. It was that kind of film.

I have been eating a twix (two double bars) at 11. There is now a white twix. Cunning;y they mix the white twixes in with the standard boring milk chocolate twixes in the same line. It is revolutionary! I never know whether I will get a magical white or boring milc chocolate twix from the vending machine -- it just depends on what is at the front of the rail. Sometimes I hang around the vending machine, waiting for someone else to come along and buy the milk chocolate so I can rush in and buy the white chocolate. It is like big game hunting, or like being in the secret police., when I stalk the vending machine.

I am easily pleased.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Smile or die

When I was young and unfortunate enough to live in a village in the south of England, a baker tried to make me smile more, by giving me sugary things. I am not a great smiler Smiling is a cultural thing as well. I remember an American radio program, where a person tried smiling at people in Paris. They were avoided as crazy people.

I have just finished reading "smile or die" by Barbara Ehrenreich. Barbara is an author with progressive politics (that is probably the worst bio she will ever get -- sorry). When she was close to 50, she got cancer. Luckily she recovered, but while she was taking chemical therapy, she found the world of positive thinking. There was a lot of pressure to think positive, however she was angry.

After this experience and when she got well again, she investigated the "positive thinking movement." I have read a number of positive thinking books. What I didn't realize was that the positive thinking movement is a very powerful way f brain washing people. For example the advantage of positive thinking for people with cancer is that they complain less to people around them. A similar situation occurs when a person loses their job. Companies are now using life coaches to tell people getting fired the challenge of finding a job is the best thing that could have append to them.

Barbara reviews the literature on whether positive thinking actually helps recovery from illness. It was not clear that it did help.

Now that you know that smiling and being positive is wrong, you are ready to listen to my worries.

On death and forests

I have been thinking a lot about death recently. Well once you get to certain age, death does seem to matter more. Especially as you start to lose friends and relatives. I am not getting too depressed about "the end", so that I just sit in a room drinking whisky, but ...

I was walking to work two days ago. I looked at the ground ans saw dead leaves. No, I screamed, all the trees are going to lose their leaves. I am going to sit on my balcony and stare out on a wasteland of empty trees. It is like waiting for the second coming. I will look out onto a road and see some allotments. Why do the trees have to lose their leaves?

Well some people may say that I should be enjoying the forest while the leaves are green. I should takes walks through it, trying to avoid the many dogs and dog shit. I should marvel as the leaves change color. Even when the leaves are gone, I only have to wait a few months, before they start to grow back. To these people I say "fuck you." I love the leaves and the forest. Why does it have to die every year?

This is what happens when you live in Germany. It is not enough that I have the daily challenge of finding a decent sausage, but I also worry about the forests.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

1000th post

So dear readers my google account tells me that this is my thousandth post. I can feel your sense of excitement. What will he write about for this special occasion. Vague rumors may have reached you of me switching from Vodka to absinthe for light night cocktails, to pour green fire on my creativity. Strange stories tell of a man limping into many bars of Wuppertal, and saying in a loud voice "I will take a Gin Gimlet" and "has anyone seen my friend Terry."

Perhaps he will talk about special trip abroad. Some adventure in a foreign land, involving exotic fruit, veiled women, and some tassle with a taxi driver.

Maybe Craig will review this blog. He will try and make some sense of reallity through the prism of old blog posts. He might stress some lesson he has learnt.

Or perhaps he will review some special book, such as the Necronomicon, written by "Mad Arab" Abdul Alhazred. You will read with amazement, and then dread, as I rant on about "old ones", before I finally disintegrate into THE MADNESS OF CAPITAL LETTERS.

Suddenly I reveal the word hypnosis. My experiments with blog hypothesis have revealed the importance of the power word "tipple". When we meet again, I will say the power word. You will awake 2 hours latter, with your clothes in disarray, your money gone, but me smirking in front of you.

But as your eyes reach this part of the text, a sudden fear grips you. Could it be that Craig will write a post about "nothing at all". Sure it was funny when Seinfeld did a TV series about nothing, but the joke gets a bit dull after a while. I have read enough about literature to know that is more important to write about the process of writing and the difficulties of being an American teacher of creative writing, rather than anything as quaint and old fashioned as a story, or rational information.

So dear reader, I feel your pain and disappointment. (But I don't really care.) This post has been about nothing. And in your rage, you notice that the comments section is blocked. You will have to vent your frustration in the more traditional manner of going out and slapping someone.

Of course rather than writing a 1000 posts, I could have writen a 200 page novel instead. I could be looking at the reviews on Amazon of the kindle version: "a novel about nothing is not worth 20p." Still I would be cooler, and separate me from the twitter and facebook crowd.

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Jeeves and me

I am often asked questions about the philosophy, history and culture of the Anglo Saxon world. A bit scary, because I know nothing about any of that. I do my best to wave the flag for the UK. People around me now know the importance of hating Manchester United and Etonians.

Currently the UK is being ruled by a bunch of ex-public school men. They are asset stripping the country. I want to put a horse whip to the dam blighters.

Why this sudden blast of posh, but weird threatening language? I have been reading a number of books P.J Wodehouse.

On holiday I read:

I am sure I have read them all before. I also watch the old ITV series with Fry and Laurie. I recently purchased series 3 of that TV show. Also the BBC radio Iplayer is playing an old radio series of the stories by Bertie and friends.

I am not sure why I like the Jeeves stuff. I know nothing of their world. The upper class has declared "class war" on the rest of the country and are destroying it before they move to the US top work at a Hedge fund. So why then do I like reading and watching the exploits of a bunch of rich idiots running around?

They make me laugh anyway.

Doctor Who and the Daleks

I have never been so shocked by a book, before I had read: Doctor Who and the Daleks. This was the book of the first ever episode of Dr Who! What shocked me was that the Dr deliberately hid a piece of the Tardis, so he could explore the city of the Daleks. This was mean, and he looked even more stupid, when they all got radiation sickness.

Is this the same Dr, we have come to love and fear?

On bathing

The eternal question is shower or bath. There never seems to be enough time for a bath, although somehow there is always time to goof off and stare at the cartoons flickering on the TV.

I have not had a bath since I have been in Germany. It is such an effort. People used to say that a famous Archbishop in the middle ages was so clean that he took a bath twice yearly -- whether he needed it or not.

I do shower of course, but I suddenly noticed that the bottom of my legs looked a bit grimy. The idea of starting Sunday with a next hot bath grew and grew.

Well today, I thought, is bath day. I started the water and it flew into the bath. But it was not so hot. My past memories were of bathwater being so hot that it was almost scalding. It taking me 15 minutes to actually acclimatise my body to the sub-boiling liquid.

But sitting in tepid water is no challenge. My body is so stiff, that it was non-trivial for me to get in and sit in the bath. I did wonder whether I could get out. What a way to die - he starved to death in his bath, because he was too weak to get out.

My abdominal muscles have faded away, so I don't feel comfortable lying on my back, because I find it hard to breath. This was a problem when I was doing ground work in martial arts clubs. It make it hard to relax in the bath.

So after 5 minutes I got out of my tepid bath and dried myself down. I have scheduled my next bath for when I leave Germany. I am not looking forward to it.

Friday, September 02, 2011

On being fat

For some time now I have been feeling a "little" over weight. I thought I should quantify this, so I purchased some scales to weigh myself.

So I stripped naked and looked at the scales. I was a bit nervous as to what I might find. I stepped onto the scales and the little needle swung to 80 kg. I thought that seems a little unlikely, because the average weight of men in Germany is about 80 kg. Although a diet of sausages, spuds and beer does take its toll -- many of the students are rake thin.

So I entered the weight into an android app. Then I discovered that I had not been standing on the scales properly. The shitty little needle moved up to 90 kg -- bad but not super bad. As I was moving the scales below my bed for storage, I found that there were bits of cardboard stopping the scales moving correctly. I removed them, stepped on the scales, and the evil little needle spun up to 104 kg.

I was thinking "fuck man" do I have to calibrate these scales. So I have three measurements and I have to assign a central value and an error. After the last PRL referee's report I saw, I know they want me to quote the absolute value for the errors.

So my weight is 92 +/- 12 kg

I am only one sigma from a normal weight!

more on Steven Segal

Although I know many physicists who tell proudly tell me that they don't own a TV -- I still like to watch TV -- mostly because it fills my lonely room with sound. Also it helps me relax before I go to sleep.

Last night I was waiting some incredibly crap German reality show that I translate as "the meadow". I was waiting for an action movie to start, but I must have got the time wrong, because this crappy "meadow" TV program refused to stop. Everyone was wearing country Alpine like cloths. One woman had to do the challenge of eating 6 hard boiled eggs -- which she did very slow, while the woman in charge kept saying "schnell".

I turned over and later flipped back to see if the action film had started. It was a Steven Segal film I had never seen. It was dubbed into German, but it is so weird to not hear his cocky American Italian voice. Although Segal was a legitimate martial artist when he was a young man, he got very big as he got older. When I was training in martial arts, I used to say, that although I am crap, at least I don't need stunt man to do a basic thing like a kick, as Segal does. (I should say I really like his first films such as Nico.)

Anyway the film last night featured him doing a number of Aikido moves -- that looked good.