Wow. Here’s an entertaining video that I stumbled upon quite accidentally. It’s some guy covering a fun (and dance-inducing) tune from Daft Punk:
A song this good, made with the constraint of one solitary musician’s talent, makes me think of how oftentimes constraints can actually foster creativity.
When the video above is over, hear The White Stripes succinctly express that sentiment with this song:
Sometimes we need to keep our rooms small and our ideas big (and not get distracted with superfluous options).
Constraints, in whatever we do, can force us to use our limited resources, whatever they may be, to focus on what’s important. Would Picasso’s Guernica be better with some colors? Would A Farewell to Arms be better with more adjectives?
Ok, there’s certainly a limit to how far one can take this “constraint appreciation,” as I agree that “nothing destroys the spirit like poverty.”**
Thanks for abiding my poorly-articulated quasi-philosophical ramblings.
Oh, and should you be compelled to leave a comment (I do like getting comments), please comment here; not on Facebook. I no longer read Facebook because, well…
“… if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.”*
I think it was starting to make me more stupider.
*It sounds better in German: “Und wenn du lange in einen Abgrund blickst, blickt der Abgrund auch in dich hinein.” –Nietzsche
**Oh snap, did I just quote Jane Austen? Yep, I’ve definitely gotten more stupider.
Lately, I have been frequently commuting to work and back by a combination of train, river ferry, and bicycle. It’s pretty fun.
Instead of succumbing to my oft recurring illness “shiny metal syndrome” and buying a brand new bike (to which I gave a lot of thought, btw), I decided to make a few upgrades and tune up my 10-year-old Trek 800 Sport. I figured that since I use my bike like a minivan, with all the loading of kids’ seats, trailers, Trailgators, groceries, Nacho, etc., I should hold off on getting anything new and cool and just convert the old Trek into an all-rounder. Plus, it has a fantastic anti-theft feature– it’s a 10-year-old, heavy as heck, bottom of the line Trek– no one wants it! Oh, and I call it the Wienercycle because I bought it in Vienna. Not the cool Vienna in Austria, the Vienna in West (by-God) Virginia. That makes the bike even sadder, dunnit?
Ah well, here she is in all her *ahem* glory.
Here it is on the Thule racks with the Trailgator (for Nina) attached:
Cati bought me the Brooks Saddle for Xmas. I bought and installed some SKS fenders. I bought the Topeak office bag last time I was in the U.S. It conveniently clicks into the MTX rack we have for the child seat, and I must say, it’s nice. I also swapped the tires out for Schwalbe Hurricanes. Although 90% of my riding is on paved roads and bike paths, I am really glad to have the edge-tread for that rare but important 10% of the time I need it. It has kept me from having to get off and walk through mud and muck a few times, and it has also prevented me from wiping out completely on mud covered asphalt. I also put on some cheap toe clips for use with any shoes, a little rear-view mirror, some battery powered front and rear lights (required here in DE), bought a cheap bike computer to track my speed, and that’s pretty much it. Like I said, the bike is an all-rounder that’s good for every kind of riding, and thus, great for none.
Here’s me just illin’ in my tracksuit.
The morning view to my right:
and then I get to the ferry to cross the Rhein. It costs 0,50 € to cross with my bahn card. Cool, eh?
A fellow masterfully sculpted cyclist-body shown above. :)
It’s interesting that on my ecologically-conscious bicycle commute to work, I get to watch the power company unload and transport literal tons of coal for the production of electricity.
Then, at the end of my hour-long bike ride, I have a shower and get to work.
For the ride home I take a train for part of the way and cycle home the rest of the way. It’s a nice commute too.
Crossing back over the Rhein; this time by bridge.
The view of the town we live in from the bridge.
So, I’m pretty down with cycling culture. Not so much the body-shaving, blood-doping, car-driver hating, racing bike scene (yet?), but more the trekking and commuting scene. It’s a hobby that includes elements of fitness, tinkering, DIY, practical engineering, frugality, and ecology. Plus, it’s fun for the kids. I can dig that.
Until next time.
I asked my good friend Lars to write a blogpost recounting his visit to our place in $peµer for Xmas. Lars has his own website where he recounts highlights (and sometimes lowlights) from his solo sailing adventure around the world. He supplied the text to the post below and I the photos. So without further ado…
After a long layover in Abu Dhabi (where I was pleased to find that they do sell beer and also that the airport is rather user friendly with free wifi and showers), the final leg took me to Frankfurt where Alex met me at the airport.
My mother arrived an hour or two later, and the three of us drove southward for about an hour to the town of $peµer where Alex, Cati, Nina, and Natalia, and Nacho (the dog) live. Also there for the holidays was Teresa, Cati’s mother. $peµer is a charming town of ~50,000 inhabitants, on the banks of The Rhine, in southwestern Germany.
The next day, in preparation for the upcoming holiday meals, Alex and I visited a local winery, along with Alex’s friend York. We sampled many of their fine wines (and a few less than fine—all the whites were tasty, but the same couldn’t be said for the reds. Maybe not enough sun in these parts?) and left with an ample supply.
We enjoyed a lot of delicious food and drink (perhaps a little more than was strictly necessary for sustenance). Among the delicacies at the Christmas dinner table were several different cured meats from Spain and Norway and an out-of-this-world fois gras, outstanding cheeses, Alex’s famous eggnog, and pinnekjøtt (cured and dried mutton: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pinnekjøtt).
It was warmer than I had expected (around 5 to 10 degrees C), and I did not see a single snowflake. Nevertheless we enjoyed $peµer’s Christmas market (numerous wooden booths in the city center, selling crafts, sausages, crepes, but most importantly, glühwein, as well as a carousel for the younger children) several evenings. Glühwein is what we call mulled wine in English, or gløgg in Norwegian.
The new year was rung in at Armin and Kathryn’s lovely apartment where we enjoyed raclette (a Swiss thing where you prepare your own little dishes, where cheese is the key ingredient, and cook them on a hotplate in the center of the table), delicious local bock beer, delightful local wine, delectable homemade eggnog (courtesy of Alex again).
After watching “Dinner For One” (An old, British, black and white, short tv comedy sketch where a butler becomes increasingly drunk as he has to play the parts of 4 imaginary dinner guests, a new year’s eve tradition in Germany as well as Norway), we watched the fireworks from the balcony—a most enjoyable display. There was no publicly organized show, but thousands of people were launching their own stash of fireworks. All around the sky was lit up and in the horizon one could see the fireworks of neighboring towns. A good start to 2013.
Of course all these highlights were secondary to the main purpose of the visit–spending time with Alex, Cati, Natalia, Nina, Berit, and Teresa.
[Just one more thing LT didn't mention and probably hopes to forget-- the German uber-germs affected him rather adversely for about two days (just him). Poor guy. See you soon, LT. -- Alex]