Tuesday, October 29, 2002

The storm is over
The worst of the storm is over. It has been a heavy one, taking more than ten people to heaven, in Germany only. I could see trees aching, umbrellas dissolving into parts, car drivers trying to dodge swirling garbage etc.. I had a lot of fun skating the downwind, reaching easily a frightening speed. Finally, autumn has come.

Madame Butterfly
Yesterday evening I've visited the opera, Madama Butterfly from Puchini was scheduled. I've never been a fan of operas. Why should I watch people running from on eside of the stage to the other, singing Italien which I wouldn't even understand if I yould speak the language? Hell, I don't know. Anyway, I decided to take another attempt towards operas on Monday. And I must conlcude: I still don't like it. The music was fine and the Polish actors all right. But still it doesn't entertain much in my opinion. I'd better watch a Shakespeare play or something. There's more action and you don't have to read the plot before going there. - Over and out!

Sunday, October 27, 2002

American pride
I did know that Americans are pride of their country. But must they do EVERYTHING with pride? Even packing a package? See the photo, I had a big laugh when I received it. Anyway, I really like the adress of this guy: Whirlpool Street in Niagara Falls, what a name.

Saturday, October 19, 2002

Travel dreams
Today is the big student party of this semester, so I'll leave soon. But that's not what I wanted to tell.

I finished a book from a 60-year-old German traveler who went through South America on his bike. It's a book I got from Steffi and it's amazing what he experienced on his way from Buenos Aires to the Cerro Rico in Bolivia. First he went a long the Rio Uruguay, then making a short side trip to the Iguacú waterfalls. But the really interesting part of the journey was the way through the Gran Chaco in Paraguay, a countryside so hard to live in and with so much German history in it. He didn't succeed coming through til Bolivia because of the worst floods in a long time there, so he had to cycle back most of the way to Asuncion and take a flight to Tarija. From there he mostly pushed his over 50 kg heavy bike over 4000 m Anden-passes to the rich silver mountain near Potosi. This mountain is one of the UNESCO's cultural heritages. The Spanish conquerers took thousands of tons of pure silver from the mountain, letting the Indios work for them. An estimated 8 million Indios died here from bad working conditions. "Potosi is the city which gave most to the world but owns the least." (Eduardo Galeano). The working conditions aren't much better today, but there's almost no more silver to be found.

There is a moving description about an expedition into the mountain with a miner in the book. It's worth reading. I don't know if it's available in English, too. The German title is "Vom Silberfluss zum Silberberg" from Christian E. Hannig.

I also finished a book called "Die Franzosen pauschal" which is not that good. It pretty much handles the usual predjudices which is sometimes funny but mostly studpid. By the way, it's the translation of a book called "The Xenophobe's Guide to the French" from Nick Yapp and Michel Syrett.

Tuesday, October 15, 2002

"The loss is entirely ours" (or: The story about Australia)
I recently finished Bill Bryson's book "Down under" about his travels through Australia. It's not common travel literature but gives insight into unknown stories about this huge continent. The most puzzling experience was that we really don't know anything about this place.

Culture: Australians are the biggest gamblers on the planet. The country has less than 1 per cent of the world's population but more than 20 per cent of its slot machines. Theyspent over 2000 Australian Dollars per head a year for various games of chance (page 34)

Australia's imported animals: Did you know that out of Thomas Austin's 24 imported rabbits in 1859 had become millions which almost entirely overrun Autralian territory, changing the green landscape characterized by lush groves and emu bush into deserts? In the 1960 they tried to kill them all with a special virus which showed to be succesfull in 99.9 per cent of the cases. It took a while for things to get rolling, but the surviving one rabbit in a thousand was enough to bring Australias rabbit numbers back to over 300 million today, climbing fast. The damage to the landscape, much of it irreversible, goes on (page 152).
But rabbits aren't the only imported animals. For examples camels were imported for use of the building of the railway between Adelaide and Alice Springs. "Today 100,000 of them roam the central and western deserts. [...] There are so many introduced species, in fact, that the red kangaroo, once the largest animal on the continent, is now only the thirteenth biggest" (page 185).

Australia's gigantism: "So unyielding is the land that ranches have to be vast to support a single operation; the largest of them, at a place called Anna Creek, is bigger than Belgium" (page 323). Or take the "School of the Air" in Alice Springs. "It has a catchment area of 468,000 square miles - that is an area roughly twice the size of France - the Alice Springs school has just 140 pupils spread between kindergarten and the early teens. (pages 347-348).

Unknown secrets: Australia is not just vast in size, but also rich in natural wonders which haven't even been discovered. Take this example: In 1989 in Sydney, "scientists found an entirely new species of tree called Allocasuarina portensis. People had been living around these trees for 200 years, but because they weren't numerous - just ten haven been found - no one had noticed them before" (page 360). If you even find such wonders within the biggest cities, what about the remote territories? There are thousands of such stories. Another funny one is about Gerard Krefft who caught two very rare pig-footed bandicoots on an expedition in the nineteenth century. On the way back home he grew so hungry that he ate them, destroying, as far as anyone can tell, the last of the species (page 341).

Bryson travelled most of the country. He comes up with a very pointing wordplay: "What a preposterously outsized country this was. But that is of course the thing about Australia - that there is such a lot to find in it, but such a lot of it to find it in" (page 393). His conclusion about the country: "Australia is mostly empty and a long way away. Its population is small and its role in the world consequently peripheral. It doesn't have coups, recklessly overfish, arm disagreeable despots, grow coca in provocative quantities or throw its weight around in a brash and unseemly manner. It is stable and peaceful and good. It doesn't need watching, and so we don't. But I will tell you this: the loss is entirely ours" (page 394).

Well, I agree and I am happy to have chosen this book. It's a part of the world we should at least know something about. And I'm sure, one day I'll travel there to see it on my own. The pages refer to the UK paperback edition from 2001.

Bill Bryson: Down Under, 2000
Deutsche Ausgabe: "Frühstück mit Kängurus"

Sunday, October 13, 2002

Successful weekend
The touring car race at the 'Nordschleife' (&copy 2002 by Johannes Beck)It was a great racing weekend. After a night at my aunts house in Wiesbaden our team won its first touring car race on the famous "Nordschleife"-circuit at the Nuerburgring on Saturday with an edge of just two seconds. Saturday evening we drove our third Bonnfinanz Team Cup race this year which me and my race partner won. Moreover I got the most overall points from the 3 races in 2002 and became Team Cup Champion 2002. All in all, I had much more luck than expected this weekend. To see race reports and pics, visit the Bonnfinanz Motorsport Homepage.

I came home around 8 pm due to a stop in Göppingen near Stuttgart where I went out to a cafe with Geli. The trains were awfully crowded, I didn't even get a seat and had to sit on the ground. Anyway, it were some nice three days.

Thursday, October 10, 2002

Out for the Weekend
I'll leave tomorrow morning to Wiesbaden to visit my aunt. On Saturday I'll go with a team mate to the Nuerburgring racetrack for the final showdown of this years Karting season. The last race of the Bonnfinanz Team Cup is held. I'll be back on Sunday evening, after a short break in Stuttgart to visit a former fellow student.
Photo Upload
I've been diligent uploading my photos at last. Ít took some time and effort, because I don't have no CD-writer, no broadband Internet and no working network card. So I transfered the pics with my camera via USB to Kai's computer, burned them on CD, and finally uploaded them in the compter lab at university. It could be all so easy...

Anyway, I created four new albums now. See the links below.

> Oktoberfest album: 98 photos from the Oktoberfest in Munich and the smaller version of it in Ingolstadt. Read the blog entry from Oct 5.

> 24-h-Geisenfeld album: 38 photos from the running event. See the report at Sept 17 or the official website for more infos and photos.

> Schweiz/Liechtenstein album: 81 photos from the weekend trip this summer. You can find the detailed travel report including a selection of the pics in the travel section of my website.

> Belgium album: 73 photos from a short trip to Brussels in Belgium with Kai.

See all my albums at pixum.de. That's it for the moment. Next time I'll be faster.

Saturday, October 5, 2002

Oktoberfest & Ingolstadt Volksfest
As already announced I went to Munich on Thursday with Kai, Andrea, Christoph, Frank, Silke and Andre. We had some food, much more fun and unequally more beer. The Oktoberfest is not a must see in my opinion, it's just big. And you'll hardly find a place with more drunken people. Anyway, the athmosphere in the beer tents was great, as well as the rides there.
Oktoberfest Ride (&copy 2002 by J. Beck)Ingolstadt Fair (&copy 2002 by J. Beck)

My cousin Lothar and me at the Ingolstadt Volksfest (&copy 2002 by J. Beck)Kai, Andrea and me missed the last train to Ingolstadt because Andrea's purse was stolen which took some time for arrangements afterwards. But fi you got some beer already, you can sleep anywhere, also on a train station. I came home Friday 7am.

My bed could count on me at least til the evening when my cousin Lothar (on the left pic with me) was scheduled for a visit. He's a joiner on his tramp southwards. So I had to shop some groceries and so on. In the later evening we met again in the beer tent of the local brewery Herrnbräu with Kai, Andrea, Steffi and her brother and cousin (see the pic on the right). Steffi was leaving today, so it was kind of a farewell party in a bavarian style. Family Eisele on tour (&copy 2002 by J. Beck)

After 2 days of beer and party we had a somewhat alternative Saturday. Getting up late, playing beach volleyball at the Baggersee with Kai and watching TV in the evening. Tomorrow it's definitely time to go on work again.

Photos: I'll upload the photos of the Oktoberfest and lots of others soon, gove me some more time. I'll post the links here. Good night!

Thursday, October 3, 2002

Auf geht's, gsuffa wird...
Today afternoon I'll leave to Munich, the Octoberfest will be visited with some friends. It'll be hard to find some seats in the beer tents, as tomorrow is also the reunion day, Germany's holiday number one.

Wednesday, October 2, 2002

Bladelight® - a revolution for skaters
Yesterday I got my Bladelights® by mail. I had ordered them almost 2 months ago, way too long to wait for such a cool gagdet. A student invented that innovative light system for Inline-Skates last year. They still don't produce in big scale, and they are quite expensive. That may be why I've never seen anybody skating with them.
Bladelight® (picture © 2002 Johannes Beck)

Anyway, I am convinced of the system. You have 2 blue LEDs in the front and one blinking red LED on the rear of each skate. They are surprisingly bright and so you're not just perfectly seen by others but you can also see where you're skating on. It's a phantastic feeling, and the people look like they have seen a spaceship. I went for a two-hour ride last night, it's just fun. See the pics. I should get a camera with a longer exposure time, I think you could make photos with nice lightworm effects.
Bladelight® (picture © 2002 Johannes Beck)Bladelight® (picture © 2002 Johannes Beck)

You wanna have such a light system, too? Order them at Bladelight.de or see my ebay.com-auction. I ordered two sets, so I am selling one.