Happy anniversary Thinkpad

My first laptop was manufactured by Hewlett-Packard, second by Sony, third and fourth by IBM. In 2005, 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 from 1998 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. I was never a real Apple person, although i had a non-Intel “Cheese Grater” Power Mac G5 from 2005, a first-generation iPad, several iPods and iPhones, when Steve Jobs was still alive.

My old Thinkpads 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. I didn’t try to run “RollerCoaster Tycoon” or SimCity on them because of this. I would have needed an external CD drive anyway. Since Thinkpads 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. Not necessarily by my own choice, but rather by chance. It does makes sense too, since i watch almost only videos in English. And Canadians travel more abroad, and are perceived as 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.

My relation to people in white coats

I wore between around 1993 till around 2002 dental braces, because my mother has a underbite. And to make it less likely to happen to me, my parents decided to put me through years of horror. Because they wanted just the best for me. Depending on the braces or retainers i got at that time, it was a pain to brush my teeth. This is why i don’t know how to really smile, while others have done it their whole lives. And i developed quite late a brushing and flossing routine. Luckily, back then, the health insurance covered all costs.

At some point, in my first years of school between 1993 and 1996, i got eyeglasses, but i never got used to them, so i didn’t wear any till around 1998. Because my sight is not too bad, with my right eye at -1,00 and my left eye at -0,50. But eventually, i was at the eye doctor again, and she gave me a new eyeglass prescription. Since then, i wear them and they are part of my identity, just like Clark Kent, also known as Superman. At least, this is what i like to think. And the weight is not an issue anymore, because the frame is made from titanium by Titanflex Eschenbach.

I was a hypochondriac for some time, but i got it under control. I still don’t like to touch door handles, toilet flush buttons, public transport handholds, and i can’t accept food workers handling money and touching food without wearing gloves. This is why i avoid most food vendors, and make it myself, preferably with organic ingredients.

Dying in front of me up in the air

It was the second time i experienced someone dying. The first time, a person jumped from the Cologne cathedral. Years ago, in late 2014, i could feel and hear the bang it made when the body smashed into the ground. Now, in mid 2017, a passenger of my flight from Hong Kong to Frankfurt got some critical medical condition. My first impression of him i got was while we were filling the bin with our carry-on baggage. He was a solo traveller and already a bit old. He seemed to be nice and patient. I think he even smiled, because i performed some serious Tetris skills to get our stuff into the bin over the seats. He was definitely happy that i got him enough space for his bag.

After this, we ate our first meal of the 12 hours flight. And at some point, i saw his head and left arm hanging over into the aisle from the seat in front of me. I thought he was just really tired. The flight attendant, who was checking him out visually, thought this too. Because our plane started after midnight. But hours later, i came back from the toilet and saw a lot of action around me. I realized, he is probably dead, because he was for a while like that.

At the check-in counter in the airport, i got a seat at the end of the plane, next to my mother. They brought the body behind us, where enough space was available, right in front of the toilet and next to the kitchen. I could experience the whole thing, how they tried to get him back alive. But only his beer belly was still moving. And after they gave up, we got new seats, while we were still in the air, to make room for the professionals on the ground later. In the end, i got to fly for at least six hours with a dead person, literally close to heaven.

Watching seven seasons of MacGyver

In the past couple of days, i binge-watched TV series “MacGyver”, and it made me feel happy from start to end. The theme song makes me smile even more. As a child born in 1986 i watched MacGyver as much as possible, just like “The A-Team”, but i never got to watch all seven seasons. Later, when i was older, i rediscovered actor Richard Dean Anderson in “Stargate SG-1” and tried to watch all episodes too.

Back then, i only got to see the translated version for the German audience. But now i enjoyed the original version of MacGyver. They started with the TV series over three decades ago, but many themes are still quite contemporary. Things like roboter, artificial intelligence or speech recognition were already part of episodes. This puts MacGyver almost in the science fiction category, because they were ahead of their time.

When i was young, i wanted to be like secret agent “Angus MacGyver”, because he finds non-violent solutions and solves problems by making things out of ordinary objects, like duct tape and a swiss army knife. I never got as smart as he is, but i don’t have screenwriters working for me either. He and “The A-Team” influenced my view on justice a lot and teached me how to get things done too. I would be a different person without their existence.

The power of introverts

Earlier this month, i repaired my “iPod Photo 4th Gen” by replacing the dying battery. I got the new parts via eBay and followed a tutorial on iFixit to give it a second life. I bought this Apple iPod model in white with 20GB over a decade ago, in August 2005. But it failed and i got a new device through warranty, in March 2006, and i never used it again. Because i bought a black “iPod Video 5th Gen” with 60GB, while i waited in February, and later, i got a “iPod Nano 4th Gen” in black with 16GB, which is smaller and without a spinning hard drive inside. Nevertheless, the iPod Photo battery didn’t last, even without any use.

I tried a couple of audiobooks with my new old media player this month. But i’m quite annoyed by writers who are trying to make things longer than they need to be, just to sell more pages without useful content. But i liked “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking” by Susan Cain, because i can agree and relate to many things she writes about: “At least one-third of the people we know are introverts. They are the ones who prefer listening to speaking; who innovate and create but dislike self-promotion; who favor working on their own over working in teams.”

Now i have two audiobooks on my to-do list: “The Three-Body Problem” and “The Dark Forest” by writer Cixin Liu. I didn’t found his third book “Death’s End” as audio version available to me. But it should be enough to satisfy my hunger for science fiction, at least for 36 hours. If i’m not tired enough at night, i like to listen to books or podcasts, because the time is wasted otherwise.

How to get her attention

I went a little bit crazy early this year. But later i found a more productive path for me, and created this personal blog instead, to get things sorted, for myself and everyone who might be interested. While i was slowly realizing that i’m wasting my time, i was still targeting to get her attention, by pushing up my website in Google results. Just in case she does some “egosurfing”. As of now i got me these positions by searching for:

That’s actually not too bad. I was not only aiming for her attention, but i also wanted to prove myself that i can still kick ass in terms of SEO, also known as “Search Engine Optimization”. It’s funny to see that some things don’t change too much. But people are trying to manage their footprint on the internet only with Youtube, Twitter, Instagram or Facebook, just because it’s the newest big thing. They don’t realize that none of these companies are sharing “link juice”, what makes them look like birds in gilded cages.

Your whole life from start to finish

In the past couple of days, i watched quite a few movies, but not many of them made me think about it later. I just saw the movie “Arrival” with actress Amy Adams as Louise Banks, a linguist and mother. I can’t even summarize the story, it’s just that good. But at the end, it’s about how the direction of a language shapes behavior and the perception of life, and going beyond beginnings and endings, because it’s limiting what we are capable of thinking.

The alien language is nonlinear, written in circular puffs of smoke, without a beginning or end. The beginning of a sentence contains already the information of the end, because they both exist at the same time. Most movies are told in a linear way, unlike “Arrival”, where future and past become one. This is why the story gets a little confusing, because our “Memory is a strange thing, bound by the order of time”. Another sentence i liked: “If you could see your whole life from start to finish, would you change things?”

Only a handful of songs are on my phone

When i was young, i liked country and pop music a lot. It gave me comfort and hope, when i was sad and lost. But when i got older, i realized there is nothing new coming anymore. Sometimes there is a song popping up i find interesting enough to play it on repeat for a while, and let it absorb all the feelings and thoughts i have at the moment, like a temporary distraction. But at the end, i still have the same music on my “smart” phone. Some of them are with me since many years, because it’s familiar and soothing:

  • Song “On the Nature of Daylight” by Max Richter, 2004
  • Song “Ashes Of My Paradise” by Kelly Sweet, 2012
  • Song “I Was a Fool” by Tegan and Sara, 2013
  • Songs “That would be enough” & “Burn” by Phillipa Soo, 2015
  • Album “The Corrs Unplugged” by The Corrs, 1999
  • Album “Vivaldi: The Four Seasons” by Janine Jansen, 2005
  • Album “Tchaikovsky: Violin Concerto” by Janine Jansen, 2008

The first time i heard “I Was a Fool” by Tegan and Sara was in London, while i was eating breakfast at McDonalds. When i noticed the music from their speakers, i immediately took my phone out to record a piece of it, so i could download the song later. The first time i heard “Tchaikovsky: Violin Concerto” was in the movie “Le Concert” with actress Mélanie Laurent as violinist Anne-Marie Jacquet. I really liked that movie and it made me cry a little too.

Around 1998, i got my first “mobile” phone, a Siemens E10. I remember how friend Luis from school called me after the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center got hit by planes in 2001. We both were sitting in front of our TVs and talking to each other via phones to make sure it wasn’t a bad dream. Back then, they weren’t capable of a lot of things, because making a call almost everywhere was enough. And the mobile phones couldn’t play music either, but getting custom ringtones was a thing.

In November 2003, i got a iPAQ H2210, and a little later as backup, a iPAQ H1930 Pocket PC by Hewlett-Packard, long before i got my first Apple iPod in 2005. The most annoying thing about them was their volatile memory. At some point in between, i even had a Palm PDA, but i just couldn’t go back to a monochrome display. In October 2007, i got my first smartphone with a physical keyboard, the Nokia E61i. My first iPhone was a white 3GS with 16GB in 2009. After three years, in May 2012, i got my first Android, the Samsung Galaxy Nexus. And over the years, i have seen fewer phone booths being around, till they were gone.