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| 2020 | one thought at a time |

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01 | January

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