Tuesday, September 30, 2014

October, migrating birds, bookfair, everything at once, secret stuff & the world

It's that time of year again: seasons changing. The trees, the whole landscape changing colour. Migrating birds leaving on long journeys, southbound. One of the "bird migration highways" leads through the very area i visit regularly, the Randecker Maar. Once a vulcano site, the shape of it now lets air cirlce upwards. Birds use the upstream flow as an air lift to the higher plateau they have to cross on the way south.  

(view from the ground towads south, with maize field in the late-September sun)

I knew that there also is a bird watching station in this area, but I didn't realize it's right there, on that small hill that I walk past when I visit the Maar. It's run by professional bird scientists and by dedicated bird lovers. Each day, from dawn to dusk, they sit and watch and count. It's a field study of huge dimensions, running since thirty years. This weekend, they had a day of open door. And great weather for it. Here's a photo, this is the counterpart view of the first photo: the view from top to the "lowland" in the north. The dot in the air is a bird, gaining height by gliding in circles:


Such dedication, to watch and count. Day by day. To puzzle together the larger picture. They also monitor butterflies.. migrating butterflies. I know they exist, but it's different when you know they fly right by there, on long distance journeys.

More journeys, this time of the human kind: Next week is Frankfurt book fair. Publishers and authors from all over the world will be there, flying in from all directions. The guestland this year is: Finland.
I will be there for a day. in Frankfurt / Finland / Bookworld. Here's a photo from last year, tainted to enhance the surreality of it:

The week after the book fair, it's comic fair, combined with work meetings.

And parallel to all that, I am working on a freelance project I am not supposed to talk about. It's a project that is mainly about market research, or rather: consumer behaviour research. It's fascinating: the human behaviour. Our motivations to get and have, to collect objects, to complete challenges. The patterns that surface. So much to reflect, and more to come with Frankfurt and the comics, And with all the web news: the new Napster. Ello. Trends that go viral. And parallel to that, the ongoing stream of breaking news, much of it so terrible. All the refugees. And Ebola. But also this news: 2000 volunteers in Germany who offer to fly to the Ebola regions to help.

Today, I saw this in the web, a retweet from ScienceDump It's pretty much how I feel, too:

Which leads to the question: how to keep track of things, and how to process and reflect, especially when so much is happening?

Standing there at the Maar, I wished to be a bird, for a while.

This morning, my horoscope read as if it picked up the thought:
"This is a good time for any kind of study and education, because you are intellectually eager for knowledge and new experiences. You want to take a larger view of life in order to see how the various parts fit together to make up the whole.
Any new and interesting phenomenon from a world outside your own is likely to attract your attention at this time. It is a good time to travel, because your curiosity makes travel very interesting to you. You are also quite open to alternative lifestyles at this time." 
But first, coffee. And the deadlines for today ;)

Saturday, September 27, 2014

new moon sky duality + a larger universe

for sky friday: a fascinating sunrise, which looked like 2 skies in one. reality, so surreal sometimes. i guess the effect was caused by morning mist that still lingered in the forest.
the first photo is from 6.48:

and this is just 15 minutes later, with the sun rising:


and a  different kind of sky moment: this week, the tv channel arte featured a docu about CERN  centre, where scientists try to figure out how our universe works. it was fascinating, and for once a docu that took its time, visited different places in CERN and gave an idea of the place and the people who work there. it's online here: Cern. and yes, it starts almost meditative, and multilingual. the interviews are in English ("the common language at Cern is broken English", states the scientist in the first inteview), the subtitles are in German, and the intro page of the docu is German/French..

Watching it made me think of my own Cern moment 2 years ago, at the Frankfurt Bookfair, where to my surprise, between all the book stands, Cern was present with an experimental stand. They had a medialab that visualized the Higgs Field.

And they had something else: the beginning of the internet. which started in Cern, with the first internet server of the world installed there, and with the original internet project proposal: the "Information Management" proposal of Tim Berners-Lee. The proposal has a pencilled note on top that says: “vague but exciting”. 

Seen like this, searching for the tiny particles that explain the universe, the scientists there opened the digital sky.

Here's more, in the blog post from the bookfair: "the beginning of the web" 


More skies in this blog: life as a journey with changing skies
More skies from everywhere: skywatch friday

have a beautiful sky week ~

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

telephone box reads: "Tempo" + Coelho + Miss Gone-OverSeas

A while ago, I discovered a "bookphonebox" in a town near here: a telephone box that some people turned into an open free book exchange by installing shelves. Since my first visit, I keep finding fascinating reads there. It's a magic little place. Here are my latest phone box reads, and an e-book from faraway:

"Tempo - The speed of life" - Robert Levine
I hadn't known about this book on life and time. It's written by scientist Robert Levine, who explored the different takes on time in different societies, and shares his studies in a trip around the world and through cultures. From the book info: "Levine, who has devoted his career to studying time and the pace of life, takes us on an enchanting tour of time through the ages and around the world. As he recounts his unique experiences with humor and deep insight, we travel with him to Brazil, where to be three hours late is perfectly acceptable, and to Japan, where he finds a sense of the long-term that is unheard of in the West."

Here are some of the things he explored: "The top five countries using the index of pace of life or time consciousness are in order, (from fastest to slowest) Switzerland, Ireland, Germany, Japan and Italy. The five slowest or least time conscious countries are, Syria, El Salvador, Brazil, Indonesia and Mexico. By the way the US is 16th place in world standings."

For more, try this interview link, or read into the first chapter online:

Thanks, bookbox, for this one.
And now to the next, from non-fiction and timemaps to a story set in Slovenia:

"Veronica Decides to Die" by Paulo Coelho
Some years ago, I read Coelho's "Alchemist", this wonderful tale that feels like a modern classic. So when I saw this newer book by him, I picked it. And probably expected something along the same alchemist lines. Yet the Veronica book and his rather lighthearted take on painful problems like depression, suicide and the war in Yugoslavia left me wondering: is this reflection, or satire?

Here's the book info: Coelho "addresses the fundamental questions asked by millions: What am I doing here today? and Why do I go on living? Twenty-four-year-old Veronika seems to have everything she could wish for: youth and beauty, pleny of attractive boyfriends, a fulfilling job, and a loving family. Yet something is lacking in her life. Inside her is a void so deep that nothing could possibly ever fill it. So Veronika decides to die. She takes a handful of sleeping pills expecting never to wake up."

Reading the book made me think of the recent blog posts about depression and suicide, following the death of Robin Williams. In the end, I gave up on this book that felt like it was an almost soap-like version of the tragedy that is depression. Here are some of the blogs in a collective links. If you want to read about the topic, I would rather suggest those than the book:
blog stream: Robin Williams/Suicide Depression

And here's a surprise find, not from the book box, but from the web:

Miss Gone-OverSeas  by Mitchell Hagerstrom

Earlier this month, I looked for the next possible books from places that I haven't visited yet (literally), and arrived in: Micronesia. Which is a subregion of Oceania, comprising thousands of small islands in the western Pacific Ocean. The most "famous" of the islands is the Bikini Atoll, which was turned into a nuclear test zone. Micronesia's history is influenced - or rather: dominated - by colonization since the 15th century (more here at wiki)

In her book, Hagerstrom offers an unusual perspective that takes the reader back to the time of World War 2, as seen by a Japanese woman who was sold to the islands:

"In the sparse style of a classic pillow book, Miss Gone-overseas is a chronicle of wartime life that doesn't focus on the guns or bombs or military depredations, but on the pedestrian life of a lower-class Japanese woman as she reflects on the turmoil around her. Set on a tropical island during World War II, the book opens and ends with separations that become beginnings."

It's an intriguing read, and the diary-format makes it rather approachable and personal. More here at Goodreads, and here's an excerpt at Issuu: Miss Gone-OverSeas.


Currently Reading + More Reads:

For 2014, i didn't join a specific reading challenge, but i try to read books / authors from different countries and continents, and this summer I am focusing on short stories.
Here’s more about it: Reading the world

On the left is a photo of the book phone box, it feels a bit like a magic shelf. So far, I always found books there that I didn't even know about, and that I really enjoyed.

For more reading notes in this blog, click here: life as a journey with booksand a reading list by regions is online at: World Reads by country

Other book blogs: It's Monday! What are you reading? 

Saturday, September 20, 2014

sunrise moon moment, or: home

the weather is still mixed here in Europe, with huge rain systems moving through. but the clouds also bring stunning moments, like today's sunrise spectacle. i looked out of the window when the clouds started to light up – and then noticed a celestial visitor higher in the sky, easy to miss, but beautiful to find: the crescent moon:

the photo is also a "home photo", taken right from the window here - it's one of the things that fascinates me, how the same sky can look so very different every day. here are more sky moments, all from the same window:

i still remember how this sky series started: the first photo of the series was inspired by a task/share thread in a web forum - Lonely Planet Travellers. the simple task back then: "take a photo from the window of the room you are in."

many responded, some with stunning city skylines. one posted a simple image of a small garden, with some houses and trees beyond. "Nothing special, just the view from the window here," she wrote. to which someone answered: "Those views are special - because they are ours."

i still remember that line: "because they are ours".

which is also one why i admire and enjoy online communities like sky friday or photo friday; each is a celebration of "just the view from here".

here's the link to the whole series: life as a journey of changing skies.

and as an ending note: a close-up of the sunrise moon:


More "home" moments: photo friday
More skies from everywhere: skywatch friday

Have a beautiful sky week ~

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

links that touched me: September 2014

When I come across an interesting link / video / story that touches me, I often copy the link to blog about it at a later point. Yet by then, there's already another interesting link that is waiting... to keep the links from vanishing unblogged, I started this "links-that-touched-me" series. Here's the next part:

Previous links:
- August 2014: the art of fiction, NY, Maya Angelou..
- July 2014: look in the mirror, 61 things...
- June 2014: travel is, Slowalk, real words
- May 2014: Perspectives, ISS, Poetry Storehouse
- March 2014: Kerouac, shipping yard, film fatales,Hiding, Guardian Film Show
- February 2014: transforming problems, noticing thejourney, poetry podcast
- January 2014: stop saying, when i was, worstpasswords, windows, why dieting....

Monday, September 15, 2014

World Reads, continued: short stories from the Caribbean + from Exile

The stories I read this week... were from many different place. Here's a photo that gives an idea, reaching from the Carribean to the Middle East and further, and including places that were "firsts" on my reading map. Like: Tobago. Or: Jamaica.

Pepperpot:  short stories from the Caribbean
So: Jamaica. And: Bahamas. First thing that comes to mind with those names is: long white beaches, ocean breeze, Sun. Reggae music. No real idea about the places themselves, though. It's great that the 2 publishers Akashic books and Peepal Tree Press teamed up and made this collection possible. It includes stories from:
  • Trinidad & Tobago
  • Jamaica 
  • Belize 
  • Barbados
  • Antigua & Barbuda 
  • Bahamas 
No easy island reads, but some rather tough topics included. I guess to every place, there is an outside / touristic view, and the view of the people who actually live and work there. This collection takes you there, to this other side.

Here's more about the collection: Publisher's page: Pepperpot: Best New Stories from the Caribbean

Story  links
The opening story is also online at Granta, and gives an idea of the different view the collection offers:

The Whale House by Sharon Millar, Trinidad and Tobago
"These offshore islands rise out of the water, rugged and black with deep crevices and craggy promontories. Her father used to tell the story of building the house. Dynamite under the water to blow a hole in the hill, a false plateau appearing like a shelf, the hill buckled up behind it."

And a second story link, from an online magazine that focuses on the Carribean, too,with a focus on poetry, but they also published some stories: Tongues of the ocean – stories

Here is one of them, one that stayed with me:

"Saving Rupa" by Lelawattee Manoo-Rahming, Trinidad
"Yesterday I decide I not running no more. I can’t manage with coming last again. Ever since that time when the boy hold down Rupa, it look like I use up all the speed Maha Devi give me for this life..."


Writing Exile
Last week, the new issue of Words Without Borders went live. And it was such a good suprise. The theme of it is: "Writing Exile".Which connects almost perfectly with my recent reads and the blog post about them: "Reading from Chile to Paris to Romania with Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Milan Kundera & Herta Müller, or: home, exile, and fiction (blog post link)"

Here are some lines from the introduction to the Exile issue:

This month we present writing about and from exile. Although not all exiles flee political persecution or war, they have in common an involuntary departure forced by adverse circumstances. In fiction, poetry, and autobiography, writers explore the notions of departure and absence, memory and loss.

Reading it, it made me think that violence is a theme that runs through these days, too - and that exile often is a form of violence: being forced to leave your homeland.

Story links
The issue includes authors from Syria, Cuba, Uzbekistan and other places, here are some direct links:

  • Fragile States: Artwork from freeDimensional: the issue also includes a virtual exhibition with artists from Iran, Burma, Cameroon, Zimbabwe, Indonesia, Syria, and Malaysia: "Fragile States explores the physical and psychological experiences of persecution and forced displacement."
  • Exiled in Europe: an interview with 3 women writers from the Middle East who currently live in Europe, with some surprise views of exile: "The Iraq that we see on TV today is not the one I was raised in and lived in. It’s like Noah’s Ark. The millions who left, not only for political reasons but in order to have freedom, took a little bit of Iraq with them and preserved it.”
  • Bag of the Nation: magic realism short fiction by Osama Alomar, Syria: "I took the big bag that I had inherited from my grandfather down from the attic. It was brightly colored like a storm of rainbows. I hoisted it onto my back and went out into the street. I closed my eyes and began to choose samples at random from everything that was inside: humans and stones and dust and flowers and wind and the past and the present and the future..."


Links + More

Reading the world:  the collected list of stories is online here: global reading, and a note on the reading journey can be found here:  reading the (missing parts of) the world 

Friday, September 12, 2014

sky friday: sun beams and a field riddle, solved

For sky friday: moments from a sunny September walk along some new ways. The route first led through forest. some parts were still green, but some trees were yellow. Such a play of light and color and sun beams. And i am glad i tried to catch that moment. didn't think it would work, but there it is, the touch of September sun:

From forest, the walk moved on through fields , and along a patch of apple trees with a view. The grass is so green, from all the rain we had, it also could be a spring image:

The walk also brought the answer to a field riddle i had come across: in several places, there are fields that look like sun flower fields at first glance, but with lots of other flowers and plants growing there, too. Almost as if the seeds had been mixed the wrong way, and then the farmer had let it kept growing anway:

Now I learned that the mix was exactly right: the patches are a nature project, to bring back more diversity for the field birds that live here, and provide places to nest, and feeding spots (here's more, in German).

Still glad for the walk, which also brough a video moment (will dowload it and put it online this weekend). It also made me think that like the diverse field, the walk held all kinds of diverse horizons, from forest to fields to nature projects.


More skies in this blog: life as a journey with changing skies
More skies from everywhere: skywatch friday


listening to: FKA Twigs / Young Turks at Dazed
reading: Litro interview with Catalan author Marc Pastor 

have a beautiful sky week ~

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

machine meditations, revisited

Revisiting this video and blog entry made me remember that i wanted to experiment a bit more with video....

"from the series of "machine meditations" - after the washing machine, and the coffee machine, and the old clock, another of the machines who "live" here: my sewing machine.

and a note on the machine videos, from poet Rose Hunter:
"I like the machine videos. It makes me think, how astonishing it is we have all these machines in our lives, and (most of us/someone like me, not technically-minded) – no idea at all how they work. I find that's what occurs to me when I contemplate/meditate on, your little videos. :) I like it!"
it's same with me - this thought: how does this work? all those inventions that surround us, small ones and big ones. each coming from a line of development, adjustment, innovation. and even the manuals they have sometimes need an own manual."

reading: The Old Houses of Belgrano: Place and Memory in Buenos Aires, Argentina Part 1

listening to: Kiesza / Hideaway (to be able to dance like that..) (& watching it also made me think of this note in an essay on the web, that MTV could have been YouTube, if they had realized the potential.)