Why i never learned to swim

My father helped me to learn riding a bike. It happened on a empty playground and later on a car park near our restaurant in Ratingen, sometime between 1993 and 1996. In hindsight probably quite late. Because at primary school we were already learning the rules for biking on public streets, but i didn’t even know how to ride a bike. Maybe this is the reason why i never broke a single bone. But i passed the test, supervised by the police, and since then, i really loved to move around like that. I took part in bike rides and was even photographed once for the local newspaper, when i visited the “Schützenfest” in Ratingen on my bike. But in 2015, i sold my latest bike on eBay, because there is nothing out there anymore, and it was not the right size for me anyway: My “OCR Zero” by Giant from 2004 became a waste of space.

I never learned how to swim, and i almost drowned the first time i tried, but friend Luis from school pulled me back to the pool edge, sometime between 1999 and 2002 in Bonn. Years later, i wanted to learn it, this time with my father. Back then, in 2009, it seemed like a good way to lose weight. But i have decided that i will not pursue it any further, since i found another path to get it down, just by eating healthy. And the only time when swimming skills could have been useful was in 2006, when schoolmate Oona and i were invited by friend Dani to go sailing for a week in the Netherlands. This was very generous and nice of him. I have never done that before and afterwards, because it’s quite exclusive. There you have it, i’m going to sink with the Titanic.

Why i liked listening to this old guy

When i was really young, i discovered musician Heino while shopping with my parents. Back then, “compact discs” were a new thing, at least for us, because we didn’t have a CD player. This is why i was looking through shelves with “cassette tapes”. I saw this old blonde guy with black sunglasses on the cover art standing out, and i made my parents buy it for me. Since then, i kept looking out for him, because i wasn’t exposed to a lot of music, except for the tapes my parents already had, and i liked to pick things i already know.

I got my first CD from our landlord in Ratingen as christmas present. It was a album from Backstreet Boys, 1996. I was around ten years old, and we still didn’t have a CD player at the time, so it took me a couple of months to expose myself to a new world of music. Because i wasn’t listening to radio, or liking any specific songs at all, except for German “Schlager”. I was already occupied with watching TV, taking things apart, collecting things, being outdoors, doing camping in the garden, biking, walking, and discovering new places on my own. I never played like the other kids, probably because i saw how hard my parents worked, and i didn’t understand why.

Around ten years later, in 2007, i was visiting his coffee shop in Bad Münstereifel for the first time, together with friends from school, Melanie and Matthias. It was nothing too special, except the owner was Heino, and the decoration was targeting to fans like me. I got a piece of cake and some photos as souvenir. I already lost track of him at that time, but it was fun to warm up memories, especially with people i like.

Things i never get tired of: 1937 to 1990

Since a couple of years i’m building a collection of movies and series i liked in the past. A handful of them were published before i was born, but are still good after all this time. Unlike most popular music these days, cinema is constantly reinventing itself through new technologies. Things are getting easier to achieve and are pushing the boundaries even further. This is why i like to make videos myself. There is more than one way to do it, just like in the Perl programming language. But with understanding comes the prediction, and when i get tired of the present or the future, i like to watch these movies from the past:

  • 1937 – Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs
  • 1940 – Pinocchio
  • 1942 – Bambi
  • 1953 – Peter Pan
  • 1959 – Sleeping Beauty
  • 1961 – 101 Dalmatians
  • 1964 – Mary Poppins
  • 1967 – The Jungle Book
  • 1971 – Bedknobs and Broomsticks
  • 1974 – Murder on the Orient Express
  • 1977 – Star Wars IV A New Hope
  • 1978 – Death on the Nile
  • 1979 – Die Blechtrommel
  • 1980 – Star Wars V The Empire Strikes Back
  • 1983 – Star Wars VI Return Of The Jedi
  • 1984 – Police Academy 1
  • 1985 – Back to the Future I
  • 1985 – Clue
  • 1985 – Police Academy 2 Their First Assignment
  • 1986 – Police Academy 3 Back In Training
  • 1987 – Police Academy 4 Citizens On Patrol
  • 1988 – Appointment with Death
  • 1988 – Police Academy 5 Assignment Miami Beach
  • 1989 – Back to the Future II
  • 1989 – Police Academy 6 City Under Siege
  • 1990 – Back to the Future III

Things i never get tired of: 1993 to 2016

There are not many movies i want to see again after some time has passed. It needs a lot of care in the storytelling to make me come back. But once it’s in my heart, i hold it tight, to make it a part of me. Some movies i may forget, just to be remembered after a couple of years, when i feel lost. They make me refocus on things i have not valued enough, more than any written text could, because “a picture is worth a thousand words”, and if it’s sort of entertaining, even better. I like seeing lives broken down into moments, and trying to make the connections, the things that explain why they did what they did. I wrote a windows batch script file to get all names automatically sorted like this:

  • 1993 – Jurassic Park 1
  • 1994 – Police Academy 7 Mission To Moscow
  • 1994 – The Lion King
  • 1997 – Jurassic Park 2
  • 1998 – Mulan
  • 1999 – Deep Blue Sea
  • 1999 – Notting Hill
  • 1999 – Star Wars I The Phantom Menace
  • 2001 – Atlantis The Lost Empire
  • 2001 – Jurassic Park 3
  • 2001 – Moulin Rouge
  • 2002 – Star Wars II Attack Of The Clones
  • 2003 – Finding Nemo
  • 2003 – Lost in Time
  • 2004 – The Polar Express
  • 2005 – Star Wars III Revenge of the Sith
  • 2007 – Ratatouille
  • 2008 – WALL-E
  • 2009 – Mary and Max
  • 2009 – Veronika Decides to Die
  • 2010 – Alice In Wonderland
  • 2011 – Hugo
  • 2011 – In Time
  • 2011 – Winnie the Pooh
  • 2013 – The Zero Theorem
  • 2013 – Tracks
  • 2015 – Bridge of Spies
  • 2015 – Jurassic World
  • 2015 – Star Wars VII The Force Awakens
  • 2016 – Alice Through the Looking Glass
  • 2016 – Arrival
  • 2016 – Rogue One A Star Wars Story

A door to another world

I always liked animated shows and movies, because they were a door to another world, where bad things can happen, but no one gets hurt. And since i’m an only child with working parents and few friends, this is how i learned many things in the first place, for better or worse, because life is not a cartoon. I grew up with Alvin and the Chipmunks, Batman, Bugs Bunny, Hey Arnold, Inspector Gadget, Ninja Turtles, Pink Panther, Pinky and the Brain, Rugrats, Scooby-Doo, Superman, Sylvester and Tweety, TaleSpin, The Flintstones, The Real Ghostbusters, The Smurfs, Tom and Jerry, and, as you already know, The Simpsons and Futurama. But except for Sailor Moon, Anime never found the way to me, until i stopped watching German TV some years ago, and started to get my shows and movies exclusively through the internet, without all these ads and nonsense. In the past couple of hours i binge-watched and really enjoyed:

  • Mardock Scramble: The First Compression (2010)
  • Mardock Scramble: The Second Combustion (2011)
  • Mardock Scramble: The Third Exhaust (2012)

Why i’m tired of people

Usually, i like to write here about the rare good people in my life, because it makes me happy talking about them, like the neighbour in my childhood. But to give you a sense of the level of stress i have to live with daily, i let you know this: Since over a decade, my neighbours around me are “Medizintouristen”, basically noisy tourists from the Middle East, living several weeks or months in my town to get their health fixed by German doctors. Just imagine overexcited monkeys escaped from the zoo paying some serious “oil money” to physicians and landlords.

The whole district is catering to them. If i had the choice, i would be somewhere else, far away from this, because they live in their own time zone, and it is tiring. Back then, when i was going to school, i had for several years season tickets to the Cologne Zoological Garden, just an hour away from me. I enjoy seeing all these animals from a distance, but i would rather not like to live next to them. At least i’m here with my parents: I love them so much that i even wrote to “Santa Claus” in Himmelpfort and put their well-being on the top of my wish list. Maybe in some way they are monkeys too, but at least we speak the same language.

Eleven years on Facebook

Eleven years ago, i joined Facebook. I have a love-hate relationship with the site. Back then, i run my own online community, developed by myself, written in Perl, long before Mark Zuckerberg with his “social network”. But i never got that many users. His trick was to make the website a exclusive thing only for students. In november 2006 i was a geography student at the University of Bonn, and i had my own university email address, the key to sign up for Facebook. But now everyone can join, it became mainstream.

This is why i never used it that much, just like Twitter. When i was down for some reasons, i occasionally removed people from my friends list, because it didn’t make me happy seeing them there. I had the people close to me on ICQ, “MSN Messenger” and other instant messaging apps anyway. It felt easy to do it. But as i slowly burned out, i cut off all these connections, till i found myself. And there i was, with only two friends on the list. I remembered former schoolmate Matthias saying that we will always be friends, whatever happens. And he accepted my friend request on Facebook again. But nothing was like before. A lot of time has passed. People change, and i changed. I wanted to say sorry for not having explained myself, and i really missed the time we played board games with Johannes and David. They all have jobs now, while i’m still trying to get it all to work. There is not much left to glue back together.

My social activities are quite limited these days, even more than in the past. But i search for the right amount. Occasionally someone is saying or asking me something, while i’m folding my origami cranes. Just like a couple of days ago on the campus. She asked me where to find the coffee shop. I didn’t know, but we looked each other in the eyes, much longer than we needed to, till she left. It felt good to give and get some attention. It was like seeing a big bang, the birth and death of a universe.

Happy anniversary Thinkpad

My first laptop was manufactured by Hewlett-Packard, second by Sony, third and fourth by IBM. The Thinkpad X41 made me stop looking for another maker in this device category. I already had a IBM “Aptiva” desktop computer with Microsoft Windows 95 at the time, but i didn’t know “Thinkpads” existed back then. My last Thinkpad is the X60s from 2007. Both are still working today, but only the X60s has Windows 10, while the X41 is still running Windows XP. They are not much heavier than modern notebooks, but many hardware parts can be swapped, like the battery, keyboard, memory, and harddrive, as i have done. I took them to school, press events, university, and basically everywhere, till they got too slow for my needs. Since they were always on the expensive side, i stopped buying them, although i like their contemporary devices. Without IBM personal computers i probably wouldn’t be here. Thank you and happy anniversary, Thinkpad.

Alternatives to Anthony Bourdain

After i finished editing, remastering and uploading my latest origami crane videos, i binge-watched three travel-food channels on YouTube. In 2006, i discovered Anthony Bourdain in “No Reservations”, and since then, i love this kind of format and style. I dreamed about travelling around the world, but this was all i got: 142 episodes full of travel and food. I saw so many different people, and how they lived, i wouldn’t have otherwise. I liked the point of view of Anthony Bourdain, but every show will end at some point, and so did his. Luckily, with the rise of YouTube, people can put all kind of content out there, and some of it do fill the empty spot he left behind.

All three channels i binge-watched are run by Canadians. It does makes sense too, since i watch almost only videos in English. And Canadians do travel more, or are at least friendlier, than the average American. I grew up with German television, but i don’t have a TV anymore since a long time. This made me learn and love the diversity i get through content in English. Because there is just more of the good stuff on the internet than in any other language.

I really enjoy “Samuel and Audrey” and “Simon and Martina”: Married couples travelling around and trying local food. Their happiness feels real and is contagious, unlike other YouTubers, who are more bad actors than good people. I almost didn’t watch “The Food Ranger”, also known as Trevor James. Because he was smiling too much at first. But his “local friend”, also known as “Chu Chu” from Chengdu, made me keep watching his videos. Then i got his point of view and it made me subscribe to his channel. But all these YouTubers are not in the same league as Anthony Bourdain. He is just hard to beat for many reasons.

Lost in Time

If you hit the right spots, i can be quite emotional. And actress Cecilia Cheung as “Siu Wai” and actor Sean Lau as “Dai Fai” are telling a great story about lost and love. I discovered the movie “Lost in Time” almost a decade ago. And you are probably not going to watch it, unless you understand Hong Kong-Chinese, also known as Cantonese. But there is a little hope, because English subtitles are available. I like the movie so much, that i actually have two DVDs of “Lost in Time”, because i didn’t found my first copy from 2008, so i bought it a second time in 2010, just to cry a little bit again. Last year, i made a digital copy of the DVD via “HandBrake”, because i don’t want to let it go that easily.

A week ago, i was with my mother for three weeks in Hong Kong. And i was a passenger of these iconic minibuses several times. They are an essential part of the story, which makes it feel even more authentic. Because “Siu Wai” takes on her fiancé’s minibus business, after he has been killed in an accident, to support his son “Lok Lok”. Siu Wai struggles and finds a friend in “Dai Fai”, another minibus driver, who was at the scene of her fiancé’s accident. Dai Fai assists Siu Wai by taking care of Lok Lok and teaching her the rules of driving a minibus in Hong Kong. As Dai Fai becomes more involved with Siu Wai and her daily challenges, their relationship is getting more complicated. Now you just have to watch it yourself, because i’m not going to spoil it for you.