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Earlier in JULY, 2006 → ← AUGUST, 2006

Dispatches from the frontier … I can’t read this … VNC made easy 28th of July, 2006 POST·MERIDIEM 02:21

So, yes, to my surprise Tettnang is not remotely Vietnamese, despite what the name would indicate. (You know? The Tet offensive, Da Nang Officers’ Open Mess? Okay, don’t indulge me.) The air seemed somehow better down there; less crap in it. I swear that living here has accelerated my aging— my face no longer looks like I’m twelve, and no-one here over twenty has the skin of a teenager.

Anyway, back in Berlin, uncomfortably warm, waiting for the storm that this humidity presages, tempted to buy a Mac mini because I’ve just been paid and my Dell laptop can’t be trusted to compile redisplay.c without overheating in this weather. For some obscure reason am also having trouble reading my monitor and feeling slightly queasy.

Webex (dot com) is great, people. It’s basically VNC implemented in Java over SSL, with a central service to handle invitations and to coördinate letting other people access your machine; no need to mess about with firewalls, installing programs, ssh port forwarding. Kudos to them. (Of course, it costs money.)

Word of the day: la guajira is a Cuban Spanish word for a folk song.

Last comment from Aidan Kehoe on the 10th of August at 12:49
Emma, you dork :-) .

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Tettnang, Milton Keynes … Your flight is departing … 26th of July, 2006 POST·MERIDIEM 09:08

Ich fahre morgen früh nach exotischem Tettnang für einen Tag wegen meiner Arbeit; nächste Woche verbringe ich im genau so exotischen Milton Keynes wegen eines Trainings. So viele Gelegenheiten neue Orte kennen zu lernen; was für ein toller Job!

Word of the day: парида рафтан is Tajik for to take off, to depart by plane.

A perverse coalition … Garamantes … „prellen“ is also ‘to cheat.’ 23rd of July, 2006 POST·MERIDIEM 08:56

If one reads up on the famines that happened in the Soviet Union in large part because of the imposition of collective farming and the seizure of seed grain from the peasants by the Bolsheviks, one learns that the regime, after initially refusing it, accepted humanitarian aid from Western philanthropers and the general public while exporting grain. They hated the West enough that they were willing to have more of their own citizens die in order to hurt, uselessly, the already–rich capitalists in the pocketbook.

This makes it clear just how weird the Second World War was—as Goebbels said constantly as it ended, the »perversen Koalition zwischen Plutokratie und Bolschewismus« was not something that could be expected to hold. But it did, for long enough. The Nazis were evidently a threat everyone  took seriously.

Fascinating, under-researched civilisation of antiquity of the day: the Garamantes, a Berber-speaking group left behind a huge network of caves and buildings in the desert of southern Libya—‘Thanks to their aggressive mentality and the slaves and water it produced, the Garamantes lived in planned towns and feasted on locally grown grapes, figs, sorghum, pulses, barley, and wheat, as well as on imported luxuries such as wine and olive oil. “The combination of their slave-acquisition activities and their mastery of foggara irrigation technology enabled the Garamantes to enjoy a standard of living far superior to that of any other ancient Saharan society.”’ And the sites are mostly un-excavated; it’s cool to see that there are still big things to be discovered for archaeology today.

Word of the day: „die Prellung, —en“ is German for “bruise.”

I should be on the phones again—regularly talking—in a month, expect more articulacy then 19th of July, 2006 POST·MERIDIEM 06:51

Things I’ve learned over the last few days:

  • If someone talking German mentions your [xɛndɪ] repeatedly, they’re talking about your mobile, and they’re probably Russian.
  • Ben Wing makes stupid mistakes too.
  • Despite dressing not remotely Gothic, I am not un-Gothic enough to be turned away from a Goth club. Damnit, that was a waste of time, I should have stayed in Saturday evening.
  • Joachim Fest writes really really well, and I need to read more erudite people in German, rather than technical-oriented people.

Word of the day: Поезд is Tajik for “train,” I imagine from Russian.

Last comment from Aidan Kehoe on the 23rd of July at 21:20
Emma, that forty minutes has been my entire clothes-shopping experience in Berlin! :-) .

I am idly planning to opt out of the dressing-like-a-twentysomething thing entirely by buying good shirts, a few more suits, and polishing my (already ridiculously conservative) shoes at least every week. Plus; the time and energy put into general clothes shopping equally helps in interviews, fishing for upgrades on flights, giving people the impression you’ve got your shit together. Minus; all of the attractive women in this city in my age bracket are students, they’re unlikely to be enchanted by the markers of being budding plutocrat scum

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Mockingbird … Russendisko … κάμψαι 14th of July, 2006 ANTE·MERIDIEM 11:49

Mockingbird,  Sean Stewart; set in modern Houston, about witches. It’s got grackles and okra and Mexicans and what I imagine are lots of archetypes from that part of the world; the Canadian author describes the weather in a way that makes me sympathise with the discomfort of the characters and desire strongly never to be there in summer. (I find the weather here in Berlin uncomfortably hot lately; there’s not enough wind, it’s humid. I wouldn’t like to be overweight here during the summer.) From Sheila—again, thank you Sheila—I have to say it’s the first book I’ve read on 20th-century Texas, and that’s something.

Russendisko,  Wladimir Kaminer. Short stories—slices of life—written by a Russian who’s been living in Berlin since before the Wende. Lots of them are funny and touching; I would like the book a lot more, however, if he had not made it clear that he considered himself an ’artist’, because that means I don’t trust him to put a sentence together without lying for the sake of his œuvre, or at least his fee.

I’m not on the phones any more, as I’ve noticed before, this means my inclination to write something (anything) here weakens—no more sentences coming into my head unbidden, no more easy puns. Since I am programming, and since the development process here makes that of XEmacs look attractive, I am doing constructive stuff over there, though—but that’s even less readable than this site normally is.

Word of the day; cansado, –a is Spanish for “tired” and comes from the verb “cansar” meaning to turn, originally from greek κάμψαι.

Last comment from Aidan Kehoe on the 21st of July at 8:48
I think the second half of the 19th century is a pretty interesting time generally,

Oh, absolutely—the birth of the world as we know it, in lots of ways.

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