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| 2020 | one thought at a time |

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02 | February

21 | [on holidays] Dentist. Yep. As is always the case when I have a few days off, something happens. Over one year ago, someone screwed something up. Something I have had to deal with on a regular basis since then. The dentist I visited today tried his very best to remedy the problem and invested tons of energy to help me live through the next three days in Nuremberg, a city I haven't visited since I was too young to remember. We're heading there tomorrow and I'm looking forward to visiting the historical parts of the city plus relaxing in an apartment-like hotel , which had more than enoughdecent reviews. Let's see how things turn out ... although the weathermen have promised us a stormy and rainy Sunday. Cocktails for me then, from 12 noon onward. ;-)

20 | [on holidays] Today was an absolute highlight. Although the edition was limited to 100 copies, I managed to find two items (small and medium) I have had on my radar for months. Once again, I had waited too long and missed out, online. In Stuttgart, I managed to find two of three vases I absolutely wanted to have. I love the "Bauhaus" school of design and "Königliche Porzellan-Manufaktur Berlin" produced this spectacular limited edition (German site; I now own the small and medium vases that are depicted in the header image of a press release which will probably disappear soon) that I might have killed for. Leave it to my better half to steer me towards the only shop in Germany that still had two of three in storage. Bliss.

19 | [on holidays] Today, I worked through my bookmarks, visiting a ton of shops in Stuttgart which carry items I wanted to have or had on my short list. Interestingly enough, in an online world, 99% of the objects I had on my radar turned out to be (expensive) duds. I met a ton (!) of extremely friendly people though who were friendly and knowledgeable enough to steer me towards alternatives. I simply do not understand how people can rely on online shopping only. Many of the more intricate details, only sales people in the various shops I visited could help me with.

18 | [on holidays] The first day was spent getting school work out of the way for that future day the holidays are over and done with.

17 | [on holidays] In Ditzingen once again. Long time ... no see.

16 | [on holidays] I have always appreciated the luxury (as the only German who doesn't have a driver's license) of being picked up and driven to my destination. Today is another one of those days.

16 | [on holidays] Because I'm heading to Stuttgart once again, a city with a ton of excellent and upscale design and furniture shops, I researched and bookmarked places I want to check out while I'm there.

15 | [on holidays] Today I gave my apartment a good dusting in preparation for 9 or 10 days away. It's actually the first time I leave my new place for more than a day or two.

14 | [on holidays] The powers that be decided to restructure this state's school holidays a while back. The result is that I now have 1 1/2 weeks off instead of three or four days for the annual carnival mayhem, which rolls around here like clockwork.

13 | 75 years ago, Dresden was carpet-bombed into oblivion. "But the bombing has become one of the most controversial Allied acts of World War Two", writes BBC Online. "Some have questioned the military value of Dresden. Even British Prime Minister Winston Churchill expressed doubts immediately after the attack. 'It seems to me that the moment has come when the question of bombing of German cities simply for the sake of increasing the terror, though under other pretexts, should be reviewed,' he wrote in a memo." More importantly though, in "Dresden revisited: how Germany’s far right is giving new life to the Nazi lies", Oliver Moody (The Times Online) writes about how 75 years after the horrors of the fire bombs that destroyed it, the city finds itself at the centre of a new culture war.

12 | Until today, I refrained from paying for online news because in Germany, viable subscription rates which aren't aligned with outdated print ones simply do not really exist. But after "Spiegel" updated their website and then forced people to accept outrageous tracking if they didn't want to pay up, I subscribed to FAZ, a site which still has what I would call a traditional journalistic approach instead of publishing clickbait and endless streams of opinion pieces.

11 | Although I haven't used WordPress for quite some time now, I still follow its development. The new upcoming release (5.4) seems to have taken quite some steps towards making the block editor - and site-wide editing - a more pleasant experience.

10 | Why doesn't this surprise me? "Apple’s Independent Repair Program Is Invasive to Shops and Their Customers, Contract Shows".

09 | There was a brief moment in time when Def Leppard's "Mirror, Mirror (Look Into My Eyes)" from their second album (1981) was perhaps the most important song I listened to on repeat. I was absolutely delighted to find out that Def Leppard are releasing an interesting boxed set that pulls together their first two albums (they lost me after those), "On Through the Night" and "High 'n' Dry", reworked and remastered, including live recordings, demos and BBC sessions. The package will include 5 CDs and will be out on March 20th. For someone like me, who used to be a slave to the so-called "New Wave of British Heavy Metal", this one is a must-buy, although I always considered Def Leppard to have been one of the bands who signalled the end of said wave.

08 | If you like Saltimbocca, you need to be together with someone who can prepare it properly. I am.

07 | I'm thinking of travelling to Nuremberg for an extended weekend in two weeks from now. I haven't been there since I was something like 8 years old. From the former "Nazi Party Rally Grounds" to "Hangman's Bridge" and the "State Museum for Art and Design", it seems to have enough on offer for 2 full days there. Plus plenty in between.

06 | Yesterday's political earthquake in the state of Thuringia unfortunately proved what I have been saying for years now (although most people didn't want to listen): the far right is gaining ground rapidly and antisemitism is definitely on the rise again in my country and in others, like the UK. It's a really sad and troubling state of affairs.

05 | Yes, I'm a "boomer". I just hope I am not as terribly irritating, crusty and outright stupid as many others I have been unfortunate enough to follow on social networks and other places online. I can't shake the feeling that for those born around the time I was, it seems to be a given that most brain cells decided to leave their origin behind a decade (or so) ago.

04 | "Life sucks ... and then you die!". It's a motto I have used incessantly since I started at our school in 1994, just for fun. I remember getting into trouble when an entire graduating class chose this motto and printed it onto a T-Shirt they decided to wear for a week or two. But, hell, it's true ... and it elicits a few laughs whenever you pop quizzes on 29 students, throw a ton of homework at them or simply tell them to stop complaining. Today a student threw it right back at me when I complained about his aberrant behavior. Unfortunately, I had to laugh out loud.

03 | The first signs of an impending storm are popping up around the various weather channels I frequent. I've always had a weakness for these kinds of things and it is interesting to see how the various models differ. There will be a storm, but these models range from "mild" to "absolutely crazy". One model even predicts - if worse comes to worst - that at least one of our North Sea islands will virtually disappear. This upcoming weekend will be ... interesting.

02 | A student of mine, whose parents immigrated to Germany (from Vietnam) a number of years ago, told me about many Germans' absolute inanity. Now that carnival has rolled around - and will (again) dominate the next three weeks or so - many of his (former?) friends have told him to stay at home and secluded ... because he is "Asian". Apparently, he is deemed a carrier of pestilence (coronavirus). Unfortunately, spontaneous stupidity and (inherent) racism are starting to be socially acceptable again around here. Absolutely sickening. Sometimes I wonder why - as a teacher - I actually bother. My work seems useless.

01 | I really enjoyed David Warren's brief blog post entitled "Empörungsgesellschaft". He quickly works through the bullet points required to get at least a basic grip on what German society / online discourse has slid into.

01 | January

30 | For the first time in 26 years, today I actually got a new schedule for the second half of our school year that is not nearly as horrible as I had expected. So, I decided to celebrate that with one of my best friends, also because tomorrow I have a day off, probably the last one until I go on pension. Life is good, for now.

29 | The other day I found out that my foot still hasn't healed properly. That puts me in a group with our national soccer team's goalkeeper, who has had to battle this irritating problem for years. As it turns out, the bone I broke is actually one of the dumbest ones to break, simply because it takes forever to heal and has a tendency to easily break again. My doctor told me that I'm still facing months - if not years - until things will be back to normal ... or not.

28 | When I got my new turntable, I actually had to buy an LP to test it out because the 100 or 200 LPs I still own are all in storage (until end of January/beginning February). This (triple-) LP has been a real joy ... although it is a little bass-heavy. Recommended.

27 | Teaching a dog to "speak". Very interesting stuff.

26 | For some reason, I noticed today how little I use the Internet, my smartphones, my tablet and, last but not least, my PC. Compared to earlier times, I'm down to maybe 5% of the time I used to invest/waste. As regular readers know, I also haven't had a TV for years now and, to be quite honest, all of these changes are good changes. I don't miss a thing and real life is much cooler.

25 | When I converted my old Samsung S5 smartphone into an audio only device, I killed every (usually pre-installed) app I could, aside from what I needed to play hi-res audio. There used to be an app in the Play Store for that, which has since been - of course - removed by Google. Still, if you manage to get rid of all the crap, the (removable) battery has a life of a full week, often two full weeks ... while powering music playback for many hours ... every single day.

24 | And, referring to my previous posts two and three days ago, I finally set up the new Technics SL-1500C turntable. For once, the instruction manual was actually written by someone who cared (and as an LP freak of 45 years, things were pretty much self-explanatory), so after a short while, it's spinning the first LP.

Pros: Nice looks (perfectly goes along with my matte-black Marantz setup), nearly fool-proof technology, ability to use a built-in phono stage or your own, versatile arm.

Cons: Shock-proof enough for my current place and setup, perhaps not in other environments; the provided pickup needs quite a bit of more weight behind it (might upgrade) than I usually use; interestingly enough, connecting the ground cable to my amp causes high-pitched noise (not connecting it solves the problem ... technology has changed)

P. S.: The dust cover was broken in one corner. My HiFi shop promised immediate replacement ... that's why I have been with them forever.

I'm a happy camper.

23 | Currently, we're finishing up this school year's first half with several conferences and meetings. Luckily enough, people in charge have finally caught on to the fact that unnecessary gobbledygook should be left out. It only took 26 years, but this week's conferences were easy sailing. Detailed when necessary, lightening fast when not. 5 thumbs up to the people in charge.

22 | Continuing yesterday's post, the Technics turntable arrived mere hours after I ordered it (from my Hifi shop of choice since the late 1990s). That comes close to the fastest delivery ... ever. I won't have time to set it up until one of these next days, so expect another post on the topic.

21 | After much deliberation, I decided to buy a Technics SL-1500C turntable to finally complete my stereo setup. I had an old ELAC record player which, in all likelihood, was and is equivalent or even better (vintage players usually beat newer ones by a mile), but it started to be a hassle. The counterweight broke and I simply couldn't find a new one short of buying a second turntable as a repository.

20 | I'm not the royalist type at all, but as an English teacher, I have been following the whole Harry and Meghan debacle pretty much from the get-go. I always thought they were being treated more than unfairly by the media and the following opinion piece pretty much sums up the press' intention behind the nastiness prevalent in the yellow press today: "There’s a reason why the royals are demonised. But you won’t read all about it" (by Alan Rusbridger, The Guardian, January 19, 2020). Then again, only an abysmally tiny fraction of the population really cares.

19 | I finally gave up my resistance and ordered "Hittin' the Ramp: The Early Years 1936-1943", a 7-CD set released by Resonance Records (November 2019), which collects every known Nat King Cole track from the days prior to his time at Capitol Records. At just below €100, it is still a pricey affair, but this box set landed across a myriad of "best archival release" posts around the globe, often stealing the top spot. And, by the way, two members of the "Steve Hoffman Music Forums" were involved in the project and on this thread here, you get some cool info directly from the horse's mouth. Beware: With altogether 33 tracks missing, the considerably cheaper download versions of this material available via Amazon, Bandcamp, etc. are not the entire set!

18 | Today, probably for the 25th time, I (re)watched Steven Spielberg's "Schindler's List" (1993). I know he will also be remembered for "E.T." and, I hope, "The Color Purple" (another favorite of mine), but this film will stand the test of time and be one day remembered as one of the most important films of the 20th century. Afterwards, I watched "Steven Spielberg On The Legacy Of 'Schindler's List' 25 Years Later" (NBC Nightly News, 2018) and Spielberg had this to say:

Q: "What do you want people to take away from this film who may not - they know about the Holocaust, but may not - have really focused on it?

Spielberg: "Individual hate is a terrible thing. But when collective hate organizes - and gets industrialized - then genocide follows. And that hate is not something that is not to be taken seriously. And we have to take it more seriously today than I think we have had to take it in a generation."

In 2020, unfortunately, that statement is more important than ever.

17 | Today my dad, who is slowly but surely approaching 90, had a scary car accident. Fortunately, no innocent bystanders were hurt, and he himself remained relatively unscathed. Still, and that is something we often talked about, he immediately (and finally) decided never to drive again.

16 | After much deliberation, we have decided to ban smartphones in most situations and for most of the day at our school (for everyone). We didn't do this because of higher-level students (adults, really), but because elementary and middle school students apparently cannot live without them. It never ceases to amaze me that nine-, ten- or eleven-year old students have $1000 iPhones in their possession. I have no problem with parents wanting their children to be available if needed, but to not understand what their children will do with these devices the rest of the time is absolutely beyond me.

15 | These past few hours, I've spent quite a bit of time researching (again) what "elite" universities like Stanford, Georgetown, Oxford, Cambridge, Sorbonne and a number of others require in regard to letters of recommendation. What always surprises me is that they all want the same thing, but they invest an incredible amount of verbiage without getting that across. Their instructions remain factual, hint at a matter-of-fact approach ... but they actually want the kind of passionate letter by someone who is convinced that whoever is recommended will get that rare spot on the roster. In 26 years, I've had too many excellent students to actually follow those universities' mundane instructions. I go full-tilt, with absolute conviction, because my candidates, in singular instances, warrant that path, and - so far - it has always worked. I hope that in this particular case, it will work as intended. The person more than deserves it.

14 | They still make absolutely wonderful porcelain here and there around the globe. Although I have enough to last me a lifetime, for many months now I have had my sights set on a line called "LAB", produced by "Königliche Porzellan-Manufaktur Berlin". I just love it. I wonder if I can refrain from pulling the trigger on, for example, a breakfast set designed by Thomas Wenzel, their art director, who was portrayed here (German), for example.

13 | I finally decided to get the comparatively cheap (18 Euro for all the studio albums + bonus CD) and bare-bones (simple gatefold covers, no extras) "Every Move You Make: the Studio Recordings" boxed set by "The Police". Good sound, great music. Life for collectors in the 21st century is actually pretty damn good.

12 | A quiet day with a nice small lunch and, later in the evening, a partial binge-watch of "The Blacklist" with an absolutely wonderful James Spader.

11 | I'm looking forward to a nice dinner tonight with the most important person in my life. Plus some quality time (with lots of good music ... and a cocktail or two).

10 | Today I spent some time researching what my home state has been doing to ensure civil servant pensions can actually be paid out in the future. Summary: They used every trick in the book to put money in the bank (via loans!) and withdraw it again whenever they needed it for something else. Of course, the whole thing was sold as advantageous and future-oriented. Let's see when the whole construct blows up in our faces with a loud bang. Probably whenever the people in charge have moved to southern Spain to enjoy their red wine.

09 | In the past 26 years, I have had a mere handful of absolutely exceptional students who have reached goals I myself wouldn't have dreamed of for myself. They are dedicated, incredibly inquisitive, have invested tons of time into furthering their goals and have, altogether, chosen incredibly successful paths. Today, I wrote the most personal recommendation for a student who graduated some years ago, someone who has done more in his short life than most of us might achieve in a lifetime. I really hope that my recommendation can take him to new heights. At Stanford University. If they don't accept him (which they will), they will absolutely lose out.

08 | I have said it before, but in the past few weeks those feelings have reached a zenith. Social networks and forums I am a member of have started souring my life to an extent that I decided to can them all. Every single one of them. So, since late last year and, especially, in the beginning of 2020, I have started withdrawing from all of them. It is the acidity that has put a lid on my involvement. Instagram, which I haven't posted to for several months, is still the most agreeable one, but it got caught in my hate for Twitter, an absolute cesspool of uninformed contrary opinion, music forums, which are split right down the middle, and any other venues whose opinionated (out of misguided principles) members I simply cannot stand anymore. Someone says "yes" and, automatically, others will delightfully pile on with a "no", not because they know what they are talking about but because their knee(s) tell(s) them to do so. Life is simply too short … and … I'm out. If you haven't tried to do the same, do so. Ever since I left Facebook, stopped posting on Twitter and refused to participate in inane discussions on music forums, my life has brightened to no end … and I intend to keep things that way.

07 | Not much work to do today, so I pulled out this old German pop-rap group whose early material is just tons of fun. "Die Fantastischen Vier", a.k.a. "Fanta 4" (from Stuttgart, a city a mere hour from here), started hitting it big in the early 1990s and kept rolling from there. Especially their first few releases I just love listening to, although they have had numerous hits and great tracks since then. Early tracks like "Jetzt passt auf (108 BPM)", especially "Hausmeister Thomas D (LP-Mix)", based on "Brick House" by The Commodores, and "Mikrofonprofessor (140 BPM)" are classics from their debut album that I still love listening to today.

06 | The last day of Christmas holidays is usually filled to the brim with work and, unfortunately, today is no exception.

05 | A lazy day with lots of reading, for example about the 100 stars that mysteriously disappeared. I also archived my 2019 micro blog.

04 | If you have as many CDs as I have, they need to be reorganized every few months to incorporate new boxed sets and other new arrivals. Today is that day. I expect to be busy the entire day.

03 | After having waited nearly two months, I bought another vintage piece of furniture from the shop which has quickly become a favorite of mine around here, Velvet Point. "Velvet-Point specializes in the business of buying and selling vintage furniture, timeless classics, and home accessories. The range of our furniture spans from Bauhaus classics to Scandinavian rarities including selected contemporary designs. We work internationally, selling to both private and business customers in a variety of business sectors. Among our clientele are theatre and movie productions, hotel and restaurant establishments, interior designers, and antique dealers."

02 | We had to return to Wörth because the powers that be decided that electronic heat cost allocators had to be read by an external company. They had to do that on the one day off everyone is trying to enjoy. That's German planning for you, but I managed to get a day of early spring cleaning done.

01 | Happy New Year, everyone! And ... that was too much (good) food last night.


Archived Micro Blogs | 2019