Thursday, March 22, 2012

Human transporter

I was eating some fries in Bruges, when I saw a group of city workers moving in SegwayTM Human Transporters. It wasn't clear what they were doing, but it looked cool, so I thought I should take a picture. But first I finished my fries. That was a bad move, because they had all moved off, but if you look  hard enough you will see them.

Actually I was having a major panic attack, because I was scared I could not use my web skills to find the name of the transporters, because with out the name you have no chance of seeing them.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

My holiday in Bruges comes to an end.

So all good things come to an end. My weekend holiday in Bruges was over. I left the hotel and
went to the train station to buy my ticket back to Wuppertal. Obviously the guy selling the ticket spoke English, so there were not problems.

I had to change trains at Brussels. However, when I travelled to Bruges, there was a station called
Brussels-Midi. However my ticket told me to change at a station called Brussels-Zuid. This was confusing. When I got to Brussels-Zuid it turned out to be called  Bruges-Midi again. I guess that is what happens when you live in a country with three different languages.

Food in Bruges

So I got out of the last art gallery in Bruges and I though that is me done with art. I need some wittles to keep my body and spirit sound.

My guide book described a kwak beer that required a special glass. The glass was so expensive that the restaurant required a shoe as deposit -- or so my guide said. The beer was also meant to be 1 L of 8% or 9% strong beer. When I ordered the beer, they didn't ask for my shoe. Also there was probably only 1/2 L of standard beer in the glass. Still it was fun to drink. I ordered Mussles and fries. It was all very tasty -- as it should have been for 40 Euros.

After that I had another beer and then took the bus back to the hotel. A bit later I had a drink in the Morrison bar with a picture of the lead singer of the Doors at the front of the building. It was a local bar with a group of friends drinking in a small bar.

So that was another birthday done.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

More pictures seen in Bruges

On the Flemish primatives

After my life changing viewing of the pictures in the Arentshaus, I thought I would finally find the famous Groeningenmuseum, because according to the map it was close. After sometime I found it and realized I had passed it many times.

It was a modern museum with 6 centuries of paintings, the most famous of which are those by the Flemish primitives. The colors were amazing and luckily they were not all about religous subjects.
Below is part of "the judgement of cambyses" by Gerad David -- an early zombie flick painting.

The gallery was arranged by time. The BBC recently had a great adaptation of the Mountains of Madness by HP Lovecraft. This had explorers in a mountain in the Artic looking at the pictures of the "great old ones". At some stage the pictures degenerate with time as the race loses it. I was reminded of this as I entered the modern abstract art part at the end of the gallery.  I am no conservative, but where does art go after Damien Hirst.

Thinking about Brangwyn in Bruges

  On the decline of  the reputation of Frank Brangwyn

After a small Capichino (at a mere cost of 5 Euros0 I was ready for more art. I wanted to find the Groeningemuseum, because it had paintings by the Flemish primitives. But could I find the museum ?Could I fuck -- even with the map I had.

After cursing map makers and geometry I did find a museum that looked to be in sort of the correct place. I didn't see many people going in the door. The museum was called Arentshuis museum.

When I stepped into the ticket counter, the woman who was selling tickets seemed surprised that I was there. I was surprised by her surprise, because the guide book had said that the Groeningemuseum was one of the best in the world. She first tried to sell me a general ticket for all the museums in Bruges, until I managed to get to sell me a ticket for 2 Euros for her museum, but she kept telling me that it was "modern art" in a worried way.
It was becoming clear that this museum didn't contain paintings by Flemish primitives, but I was in polite English mode. It looked as though, she had been wound down by people coming in, mistaking her museum for the more famous one.

So I went upstairs to a completely empty gallery. The air smelled of decay and dust. The light was poor. The work was all by Sir Frank William Brangwyn -- someone I had never heard of. He had been born in Bruges, but he moved to the UK as a child.  I walked around the pictures. The floor was incredibly squeaky, every time I moved the floor  boards groaned. I kept thinking the woman below is listening to me trying to work out if I really wanted to be looking at her pictures. I heard a couple
come in below and try and buy a ticket, but after a while it became clear that they wanted to be in the other more famous museum, so I was left alone in the gloom.

There was a time line on the wall of  Brangwyn's life. It looked very distinguished. He was born in 1867, so I could compare his accomplishments in 1912 with mine in 2012. I wanted to cry bitter tears of failure. The paintings I liked enough, he was a realistic type. I did notice that he travelled to Istanbul and maybe even to Africa, but that didn't radically change his paintings in same way that African art had effected the style of Picasso. That made me sad. From the wikipedia site, it does look as though he was an interesting guy. He wasn't one of those University trained posers, and had even worked with William Morris.

So that is the future. Even if you are successful in life, your legacy could be a dusky and empty
gallery, that at some stage will be closed and his pictures burnt or sold in car boot sales. What is the point of it all?

Anyway my favourite artist is now Brangwyn -- more to be bloody minded than anything else.

I liked the quote below from wikepedia.

  The art writer Marius Gombrich has linked the decline of interest in Brangwyn's works to the decline of the British Empire, pointing out that Brangwyn's bold, vigorous, outward-looking art was suited to the expansive spirit of late-Victorian British society but inconsistent with the inward-looking, less confident, and intellectually effete ethos prevalent in the post World War I period.[14]

Picaso, waffles and fries ...

Second full day in Bruges

I started the day by eating Waffles at a little store in train station. Then I went into the center with a bus, and ate some fries purchased from a little store in the markt area. I think I went a bit wild with eating fries in Bruges, because today I didn't feel like Pomme Frittes for lunch.

I then wandered around the city for a while, just looking at the nice buildings and rivers.

I then went into an exhibition of Picasso's (and Joan Miro) work. Picasso painted a lot, so there were many paintings and it was interesting to see his change of styles. I also liked the fact that he was always learning and talking to new people.

I can now see why people steal paintings so that they can look at them alone. There were not too many people in the gallery but they seemed to get in my way.

Picaso managed abstraction with out painting stuff that required no skill.

Monday, March 19, 2012

End of first full day in Bruges

I ended my stroll around the center of Bruges with a fish stew for dinner. Belgium cooking works for me, because as far as I can tell you get fries with everything (but with no vinegar).
My table was near the door and one of the waiteresses just stared out of the door to look for new customers. This freaked me out a little bit.
The meal cost 28 Euros, but when I gave the waiter a 50 Euro note, he asked if I didn't have anything smaller. This shows that 50 Euro notes are hated through out the EU.

i then worked out how to get a bus ticket on the bus and went back to my hotel.

Escape from Hell

While travelling I read "Escape from Hell" by Hal Duncan. I found out about this book from the white screen of despair run by Gary Gibson.

The book was action packed with a group of people who sent to hell, escaping to hopefully a better place. I enjoyed reading it. It is always good to see people surmount impossible odds.

Johannes Cabal the Detective

It was just warm enough to read outside. In between visiting museums and wandering around Bruges, I read Johannes Cabal the Detective on my kindle. This is the second Cabal book I have read. What is great about the character is that he is mostly immoral, but he does occasionally do good things. In some sense it is like the gnostic idea of god that is basically evil with bits of goodness hidden in it.

My love affair with the guillotine

Museums are not always boring when they contain an instrument of death

I looking through my guide book for something to do that didn't involve beer or reading. One of the museums, called Gruuthuse , looked a boring -- until I got to the sentence that stated that there was a guillotine there. I put down the book and started running (perhaps a fast limp is a better description).

It took a while to find the museum, because it was hidden away. The museum was a meant to show the life in Bruges in the past, which is something I am not too interested in. I am wise enough to know that the staff will think me a bit weird, if after buying a ticket, I just say, "so where is the fucking guillotine?" I rapidly toured the first floor of the building, but couldn't find it.
It turned out to be in the first room, but just standing in the corner. Personally I would get rid of the other stuff in the building and just keep the guillotine well lit.

I was starting at the guillotine ans was just starting to think about life, death, and justice. A family came in starting at looking at the stuff in the room. One of the children went off and started to explore the guillotine on their own. I was just thinking, this might not end well. Then the rest of thye family came over. The father explained to the children, who I think were around 10, what the  guillotine was for, in an educational way.

Sane well adjusted people take all the fun out of visiting museums.

I then took some pictures. I got told off in a museum in Vienna when I tried to take pictures of the car that Franz Ferdinand was shot in, which was the event that started the first world war. I had turned the flash off, so I was worried when I took the pictures, because it was gloomy in there.

I didn't realize how high the guillotine was.

In Bruges and in Bruges

Watching the film In Bruges in Bruges

I watched the film "In Bruges" while I was staying in Bruges. I rented the film via Itunes.
The film had two hit men hiding out in Bruges after a hit goes wrong. Only one of the hitmen wanted to be there, but the other hates the city. The city Bruges is almost part of the actors because it plays such as important part in the drama.

I kept thinking I was there today, but without a shooter.

TV in Belgium and the fate of the UK

My hotel room has a TV that shows TV programs from a number of different countries. I could watch BBC1, BBC2, and ITV1. The local Flemish channels show English language shows but with subtitles. Some people thing that this is the reason that everyone can speak such good English.

So I was channel hopping (zappen). On the UK channels, two had shitty game or talent shows on.
Even worse BBC2 had a program about how the British felt that they were a special people. One of the local channels showed one of the new Sherlock Holmes programs made by the BBC, but with subtitles.

So the local here improve their English while the English nation is brain washed with game shows and propaganda for a lost Empire. So what is the plan to make Britain great again. Are we going to invade India and sell opium to the Chinese? What we don't need is a program telling us "we are the chosen ones."

The Elites of this country need to let go of the Empire idea. OK, many of them have, of course, they are too busy stealing as much money from the country, so they can buy a big castle in France. and retire there. Cutting the 50p tax rate -- very power to the people.

On getting old

So I was 45 yesterday -- that was the main reason I was in Bruges (apart from a massive burn out). This birthday hit me very hard. I got depressed about age and death. One of the problems with no having children is that I am not distracted by looking after my family, but I have plenty of time to go inwards to despair.

I now fully understand the mid life crisis thing, but I am not sure what to do about it.

On a more positive note I actually feel better than  last year, because of the diet and extra exercise. I just need to lose another 10 kgs and work on my flexibility. The last week has been a week of excess, but if I can calm down, than I will be back on track again.

There must be a way to cheat death.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Salvador Dali

So after surviving the lack of breakfast trial, I was ready to do some hard core tourist stuff. I was in the markt area and there was museum for Salvador Dali. When I was between 16 and 23 I was interested in surrealism, but when paranoia and madness became the normality of my normal life, I lost interest somewhat. But still I like Dali I thought.

It was a small museum but still very interesting. I didn't realize that Dali had dome so many book illustration.  He had done pictures for books such as Alice in Wonderland and Venus in Furs. Dali was both a good painter and drawer as well as good at self promotion. A lot of his work was based on philosophy or ideas

There were a lot of mirror in the museum and that freaked me out. I was a bit unsure of reality.

First day in Bruges

My hotel in Bruges is close to the railway station. The web site of the hotel claimed it was either a 20 minute walk (for normal speed walkers) to get to the city center, or take a short bus trip. It took a short while to get a ticket. I got on the bus to the Zentrum. After about 5 minutes I got off at a market. It was a standard market, with stalls selling 5 pairs of socks for 5 Euros. However I was in tourist mode so I was searching for the historical bit and a place to buy breakfast.

After the market  I walled in what I thought was the correct direction. Bruges is a tourist town, so I thought I should find something quickly. I was partly looking for history, but mostly looking for breakfast, because the night before I had just eaten 3 beers and a chocolate bar. But I walked and walked, but I didn't find any cafes or open shops. I thought, this is hell -- I am going to just walk around until  I starve or go mad. At some point I thought I smelled bacon, but I could see no shop or cafe. I shook my fist at heaven.

Just as I thought, well this is it, I hit the man tourist  area. I then had to decide on what rip off cafe to eat at. This took some while and I eventually went into a fast food joint to order a bacon burger, because please remember I was close to death and needed a little meat.

 The burger was delicious and even used a brown bap.

Belgium beer

I got the train from Wuppertal to Bruges on Friday. The train to Brussels from Koln was late, so I got into Bruges train station 20:00. However, most of the shops in the station were closed. This was a bit of a bummer, because I needed something to eat. My hotel was close to the train station.

After I checked in, I found a little shiny modern bar. I knew most of the Belgium beers on offer. I started with a Duvel beer. Duvel beer always reminds me of Liverpool, because I used to drink that beer  after going to the Odeon cinema.  I like beer, but experience has told me drinking more than 2 beers with 9% alcohol content is not a good idea. So after a small glass of Leffe, I decided to be a real slob and go for a Stella. 

I have drunk a lot of Stella beer in the UK, but it doesn't have a good reputation among the real ale crowd, apart from its ability to get you pissed. The beer was poured into a small glass and the head was removed with a knife in  a European manner. (Actually the served dropped the glass when it was half full).

After my 3 beers I got a chocolate bar from the vending machine -- and that was dinner.

Now that I think abut it, I hardly ever see Belgium beer in Germany.

How not to start a holiday

During the last couple of weeks I have been really burnt out. So I booked a weekend holiday in Bruges Belgium. Before I left I thought I should weigh myself. Bad idea, because my weight had gone up to 91 kgs. This is not information I needed to know, before I visit to the land of fries, chocolate, waffles, and strong beer.

Sunday, March 11, 2012



So Rammstein seem to a big German metal band. I think that their control over the crowd is amazing. Somehow he makes wearing dungarees cool.

They are very theatrical as well



So in my voyage of discovery of German music, today we are looking at Stahlhammer from Austria.

They also do a neat cover of a famous Pink Floyd song.
I like their sound, but I want something faster .....

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Subway to Sally

 Subway to Sally

I have started my discovery of German underground music by listening to Subway to Sally. It is clear to me from the streets of Wuppertal that metal is big in Germany. I tried one song on youtube, because this band were described as Medieval metal, and this seemed interesting enough to try.
The video looks cool, but the sound is not so special, but perhaps I should try more than one track.

 OK, from the live video I can now hear why it is called Medieval metal. But is it prog?
I like these guys more now.



I was listening to Tom Ravenscroft and he played a track by Soap&Skin. I thought it was pretty awesome. She sounds a bit like Nico. She comes from Austria I believe.

I thought I should explore German music a bit more. I should make it clear that I was thinking of exploring underground German music rather than Beethoven. I could be as cool as Julian Cope,
who wrote a book on Krautrock.

I had a look at the wikipedia page for German bands. Anyway it might make more interesting posts than how depressed I am.

On being slightly less fat

On weight

So finally I have managed to reach 90 kg. I have been lost in a terrible black pit of despair, so I was happy to see this morning the reading on my scales. It makes me think what weight I would be if I had cut down on the booze. I have only lost 6 kg since Christmas, so it all going a bit slow. What is the secret of my success, well eating half grapefruit at breakfast.

Friday, March 09, 2012

Mug wars

The mystery of the broken mugs

What the fuck! I wanted a coffee so I poured hot water on the powder. Ten seconds later the mug imploded. What are the chances of that? Actually pretty high, because the same thing happened last week with a cup of tea. Why are all my mugs exploding. I think it might be due to some plot by the CIA. They know I drink a lot of tea. They are trying to assassinate me with exploding mugs, before I start to do something important in my life, such as err. Of course the other possibility is that the Euro shop sell cheap shit mugs, Another possibility is that I wake in the middle of night and start throwing mugs around, while I sleep. I am more worried about this reason, than the CIA is out to get me. Being an enemy of the CIA is heroic, but throwing mugs around while I sleep is just stupid.



I have managed to finish another book! This week I finished reading Wired by  Douglas  Richards. It was a futurist action thriller. Some of the ideas I liked, but then there was a bit too much telling rather than showing. And the end went on for longer than it needed. Still I enjoyed it.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Veggie death

 On being poisoned

I was poisoned at work today in the Cafeteria. A couple of people told me it is important to have a few meat free days every week. In the same conversation I couldn't remember when I had a day when I had not eaten meat. I am not hard core about this. I don't start the day with a burger, much as I want to.

After passing my German exam on Wednesday, I totally failed to order a pork stir fry and ended up with the vegetarian stir fry instead, so I was poisoned. I felt weak and hungry all afternoon. I had to eat a big can of tuna to recover.

It used to be that vegetarians were thought to be  bunch of flower hugging hippies, but suddenly vegetarianism is main  stream. They should be forced to eat in a different building, so as not to corrupt the food of us meat eaters. I need my strength.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012


Dreams and exam stress

I finally have the final part of my exam in German today, so it is interesting to record my dreams. Also I didn't drink any alcohol last night so my dreams were vivid.

I was walking into a room. I turned around and a figure in a brown cloak was sneaking up on me. I turned around and just managed to get a reasonable elbow shot in, when I woke up. After some reflection, I think the figure was based on the evil person in the dreams in the film "Minority Report."

When I was in another dream I was around a swimming pool. Somehow I had a database of past loves. Although you might start to worry that I am stalking women, it is actually much sadder than that. I was worried about the design of the database. It didn't use sql, but used some associative array data structures in PERL. Somehow the poor design of my database resulted in me losing contact information with women.

My conclusion. I should have taken the online course from MIT on databases, if I really am serious for looking for love. Also I need to work on my martial awareness and combat techniques.

Monday, March 05, 2012

Passport blues

New Passport

If you were to hide a hidden camera near the postbox in my flat. Everyday you would see a per son open his mail box with a look of hope, but then start to cry when he saw emptiness. That person would be me,  because I am waiting for my new passport. Why do I need a new passport? Well for a holiday of course and my old one has run out. I have been nervous, in case there were some problems (like me not filling in a form correctly.)

Or perhaps the seditious thoughts expressed as on this blog.

Passports are now sent from the UK to the address in Germany, but I had to apply to an office in Dusseldorf. When I saw the DHL letter, I was at first excited, because I thought it was my new passport, but then I saw DUS on the letter. I though that is just my old passport being sent back from Dusseldorf. But when I opened there was my new passport -- all shiny and new, all ready to send me to new far flung lands.

Sunday, March 04, 2012

I invent a new dish

Below is what I designed for my lunch todays. Chili and beans. I actually regret adding the chillies, because my stomach is on fire. Opinion seems mixed as to whether baked beans are healthy. The beans are healthy, but sugar is added as well.

Father Brown versus the Catholic church

Ok so I was baptised a Catholic, but I never took the communion thing. My family were not religious, when we were growing up. I think I was dragged to church at some stage, and perhaps I even went to Sunday school for a couple of months, but I think this had more to do with doing the right thing rather than anything to do with this God dude. Luckily in those days the churches didn't like young children so much, so that helped me keep out of their clutches.

On the Iplayer is a collection of stories about Father Brown by  G. K. Chesterton. Father Brown solves mysteries, even though he is a fat little priest. On one hand I really enjoy the stories, however on an intellectual level, the endings of the stories always seem to involve propaganda for the Catholic Church,  The priest knows more about real life than the rational men of science. To be fair he doesn't use supernatural reasoning. Personally I think a priest detective would miss all the clues, because he would spend all his time ranting about condoms and gay marriage. 

I am slightly against Chesterton, because when I was young I wanted to know about anarchism (as you do). In the days before the internet, all I found was the book " The Man Who Was Thursday", that frankly is not a good introduction to anarchism, but an interesting book.

Now that I look on Wikipedia I see that Chesterton used to carry a sword stick around, so he was a sound man.

Please note that although I don't like this nasty religious business --  I don't feel that this should stop me winning the Templeton prize, for Progress Toward Research or Discoveries about Spiritual Realities, because I could do a lot with the money and prestige..

Kill speed

 Kill speed

I just watched "kill speed" on Itunes. I think I rented it because it was available for 99p on Itunes and it was an action film. I spent a month not watching it, because I didn't really like the plot synopsis.
It was an enjoyable film in its way. There were a lot of plane chases, but the plot was fairly standard.

I do wander what this type of film is doing to Americas, because it does suggest that just be being an American jock, you can fly jets with no training.

Love and cartoons

On love

I had a major panic attack this morning. I turned the TV on, but found no cartoons. How could I wake up properly with no cartoons, but with just lots of cups tea. There were TV programs, but normally there are cartoons -- this has been true for all the four countries I have lived in. However after I had a shower, I saw that spider man was on the TV -- so all was well.

Perhaps I need someone in my life to shake me out of my boring life. About a week ago I was talking to a female in neighbour in the lift. After she realized how bad my German was, she started talking to me in English. She told me that it was bad that I had to walk through a forest to get to my home. She cares, I thought, how sweet. I don't think she was telling me that I was a loser because I don't have a car. I tried to explain that I liked the spirit of the forest, but I expect I came across as a nerdy boy doesn't talk to chicks much. Perhaps I will never see her again. I have already forgotten what floor she got out of.

So you can see why I need to see cartoons on Sunday morning to get me out of bed.

Saturday, March 03, 2012

Sharp dressing -- or not

On getting smart

I feel the need for smarting up a little bit. When I lived in the US, I used to wear colourful t-shirts, but it seemed pointless in the UK, because the weather is usually not good enough to just wear a T-shirt.
Anyway I got out of the habit. I don't see so many cool T-shirts on Amazon. But what about this one.

Unfortunately apart from being sexist, the T-shirt needs to be washed in cold water. So if I do pull, I will need some washing tips.

Thursday, March 01, 2012

I am not James Bond

On being a secret agent

I awoke last night for a toilet break. I thought, wow I have not had any dreams. When I fell asleep I dreamed that I was a secret agent. I have managed to forget the first part of the dream, but later in the dream I was in a taxi that was travelling towards a museum, where a secret organisation was based. At the museum, I was quickly identified, and I got into two fights, both of which I lost badly. My secret equipment was found and stolen.

Later my partner arrived and saved me. My equipment cam back by teleportation. At the end of the dream I was a supermarket, where I borrowed the keys of one of members of the Wuppertal theory group, who was working there part time. I accidentally took the keys  hope with me.

It seemed a very middle dream about special agents. I also see I think I am a special agent, rather than a secret agent -- no wonder that i got caught so quickly.

Exam angst

 On taking an exam in German

I am in the progress of taking an exam in German. The last part of the test is next Wednesday.
Although I am a "hard" person, I also have a nervous streak. When I was at University or school, people used to hat it when I took an exam. After the test I would go into "I have failed mode", where I would get depressed, because I thought I had failed the exam. For completeness, the exam is B1,
that is I believe close to AS level in German.

After the exam on Wednesday I started to get very depressed, because I thought I had messed up two thirds of the exam. I did manage to fail many of the practice tests we did in class. And when I say fail, I mean a massive failure with 30% score. Luckily the teacher told me I hadn't failed, just I was getting  into failure mode. My mood was bad for the test, because after studying for the test, I found that I had forgotten many of the verb conjugations for important verbs such as werden.
So I had spent the morning writing out the tables, but making many mistakes.
 I also failed the last exam at the A2 level and the pass mark is 66% -- what the fuck.

At some stage I realized I knew the word for fail (durchfallen), but not the word for pass. There is a verb called passen, but my on line dictionary translates this as "to suit" or match, but I will check with my German speaking colleagues.

When I was "revising" for this exam, I found that no one understood what I was talking about. And now that I think about it -- it doesn't make too much sense.

Well how should I relax? Perhaps I will read a little Mark Twain on the German language.