Wednesday 24 February 2010

Not old, yet!

I thought I am getting old, and this morning I figured out that I don’t. I mean: I do, but not to the extent that I thought I did... Do I make any sense at all?

See, recently I thought I couldn’t keep up with life anymore. For so many years I have only been arranging myself around hubby and the occasional night out with IL, or dinner with friends, and things were fine. Now some younger people – and with this I mean a quarter of a century younger people – have entered my life and I feel like falling apart.

Don’t get me wrong: I love being around them. It is inspiring and fresh and they are lovely. We cook together and go to the movies and watch movies at our house – it’s just that I am exhausted, my head is buzzing and I am feeling like having aged a decade within a couple of month. This being a development which I am not appreciative about, I decided to question the 'age' conclusion.

At first I thought I might have been too settled, with spontaneous activity being kept to a minimum. I once wrote that one needs routine for the nitty-gritty bits of life to free up time for spontaneity. Had I introduced too much routine? All too often conversations go like this these days:

Question/suggestion: 'Let's go to the movies!'

Me: 'Well, what is on? We could go next Thursday.'

Response: 'Oh no, I meant tonight!'

Me: 'TONIGHT!?... tonight... - ahemm'... gaining time... 'hmm... What is on?'

Response: 'Oh, doesn’t matter! Let's just go!'

Me: ...still gaining time with harrumphing, and quickly thinking about when I have to get up next morning, what I wanted to do that night, how much sleep I had last and will have next night, and if I will survive... 'What time, did you say?...'

Those negotiations usually go on for a while, my cool is gone at that stage, and while everybody is getting impatient, I feel the need to explain myself, what makes the whole matter worse.

When my goddaughter came to visit I knew she would stay for a week and I would dedicate this period of time. That seems to be an important thing to me: Being able to dedicate time. There it was again! The planning ahead thing. Why do I have to plan ahead so much?

Feedback was needed and I interviewed hubby. He tried to be kind in reminding me, that movies never really where my thing. He had a point there, and movies quite often were on the agenda, I however realised that I wouldn’t be up for anything else either. This was a dead end: Was it old age after all?

Now the subject started to follow me. Even Nury wrote a column on '22 signs you have grown up' meaning that you 'got old'. Oh my goodness... don’t get me started.

This at least triggered another thought: What if the theory that children are keeping you young, is wrong? What if they only hold a mirror into your face? What if the solution lies in the choice of social environment? During my holidays I felt perfectly young, sipping my cocktails with 60+ year olds. Blissful moments!

The final clue however came during my morning gym session with my dear friend Imola who is 10 years younger than me. I felt like a spring chicken and hence down the drain went the theory above. And then, while concentrating on my exercise ahead, the mind floated for a split second, and I knew! All of a sudden the burden fell off me and I was one with the world again: It was not my age; it was my lifestyle!

It IS the social environment, but it doesn't have anything to do with age. I am a morning person, and I am surrounded by evening people. With Imola, who is an early bird as well, I felt entirely at ease.

In order to fit into the night owl’s lifestyle I am eating my food at the wrong time of the day, and although I love going to the gym in the mornings I go in the evenings. I like to get up early to do the main housework and pet care, because it gives a clean start into the day – it feels accomplished! I like to sit at the computer early because this is the time of the day when my brain is working well. In the meantime the night people are either in bed or nurturing their morning grump.

I like lunches instead of dinners, but by that time owls only have arrived at breakfast. When they are eventually running up to full speed at night, all I am able to do is to hang in my arm chair keeping hubby company at the telly – something which so far was recognised as a valid and appreciated activity, even if I nodded off.

Now that had changed. All of a sudden I am supposed to be really active at night, meaning that now there is a rather big likelihood of not only performing badly in the gym, but at my morning activities as well. And on top of it all nobody seems to understand why I am such a killjoy when all they wanted to do, is to introduce all this fun into my life. Well, I didn’t understand it myself...

This newly introduced spontaneity is throwing my carefully balanced life completely out of whack. Going to the gym at the wrong time of the day for the benefit of doing something together with hubby is a compromise I am happy to handle, but I cannot compromise on my writing. I can handle spontaneous actions once every fortnight or so, but not several times a week. For everything that needs a shower and hair-wash I’d like to have two days notice, please!

See, and because I am actively voicing my constraints and visibly leaving the scene when everybody else is at their prime, I am a killjoy and weirdo. Owls just passively and invisibly don't show up when I am at my best. Everythging that is not there cannot be weird, and hence they are the 'normal' people.

I am herewith proposing a swap-over scheme. One month I will adjust my lifestyle to the night people and going out with them, and the other month they will have adjust to my ways. Getting up at 5:30, helping with the housework and the pets; when having the morning coffee, I could do an hour of writing, while they do their facebook and internet stuff, and then we could be at the gym by 7AM; coming home by 9 AM to have a shower and a quick breakfast, to then set out for work at 10 – their usual time. On non-gym days we would either do the groceries shopping, or would start work at 8. This way enabled to leave by 4PM we could do some outdoor sport, run errands, or meet friends.

Let’s see who’s up for movies at night, then!

Sunday 14 February 2010

Travelling Skills

Madrid  Airport

Madrid Airport...

I was wondering if there are people who are just not suitable for travelling, and if I may be one of them. The other day I was at the movies watching 'Up In The Air' and I quite liked it, and not just because of handsome womanizer George Clooney. Traveling comprises of two parts: Firstly 'being somewhere else than home', which is fine; secondly 'getting there', which is not. Watching the movie I thought that it would be so cool if one could thoroughly enjoy the moving about part of travelling as well. I could picture myself, stylish, assertive, and well organized; jetting around the world, oozing sophistication. Well, today I was thrown back into my real world of travelling.

When I was on the first leg of my flight to Fuerteventura with a pit stop at Madrid I was dreaming myself into George Clooney world – did I pack efficiently? Well, it was alright given that I am planning to have some sport and fun and not just business; my suitcase is perfect, good size and swivel wheels.

Handbag a good size, practical with pockets for everything I need including iPhone and netbook, and shoes easy enough to take off and put on again to be quick and efficient at security. Only hiccup is that I am not a frequent traveler and hence not used to my luggage. At about 4:32 AM this morning I had the shock of a lifetime. I think I have never broken into sweat like this before. I wanted to SMS dear hubby that I made it to the airport and couldn’t find the bloody iPhone which had slipped into the wrong pocket when the taxi picked me up at the hotel - so much for slimline devices!

Realising that the precious device is representing a lifetime of contacts which have no place in my brain anymore I jotted down the most essential numbers on a sheet of paper, which I hopefully will find if needed. Thus relieved I scrutinized the departure board for my check-in information only to find this particular bit missing. Some 15 minutes later it eventually disclosed the information and joyfully equipped with the letter ‘F’ I made my way to the location. Given that I had seen the info flashing up on the board just there and then and that I was close to the point already, I should be one of the first in the queue – so I thought in joining about a mile of people zigzagging their way to the counter. I have no idea how all these people got the news so early. True travelers seem to have the gift of divination.

However, check-in and security went well, and I was soon sitting at the airplane dreaming myself into Clooney-world again. So first rule of travel coolness is to avoid check-ins. Queuing is utterly un-cool. Self check-in is cool! However, due to every numbnut being able to print boarding passes at home, there is a queue at the baggage drop off point as well. Hence no check-in luggage at all is paradigm for efficient travelling.

Now I am sitting at Madrid Airport – which I really loathe – well, at least I am sitting. See, the 'Up In The Air' flair only comes to full shine if you are travelling business class… I am bench; hard wooden bench, and that is where display boards come to play their role in harassing travelers. Their main purpose is to guide people to the correct destination. These days however they have become mean devices which make people wait right in front of them, far away from any coffee place or shop. Only in the last minute they reveal the destination to make people hectically rush to reach their gate. I am pretty sure that there are people sitting behind the security cameras and placing bets.

If one just wouldn’t have different hopes: The boarding pass is already in place since check-in, no passport control since it’s a transfer, plenty of time – one is German after all and always is working a lot of safety transfer time into stop-overs – so what can possibly go wrong?

The expectation is a 2 1/2 hour break during which first thing a visit to the loo is to be executed – brilliant, Madrid has plenty of such facilities – and then a sophisticated cappuccino with possibly a nice little piece of cake is to be consumed, while looking very important using the computer or the iPhone, followed by a stroll through the oh so expensive shops, looking as if one can afford them.

Now, Madrid Airport terminal 4 is about a mile long. It needs something like 20 minutes to get from one end to the other. The board of course only is telling me that I am in the correct terminal, but gives no information whatsoever about WHERE TO within the bloody thing I have to go. So off to the loo, and then a bee line to the next coffee shop. Bloody hell, only coffee late; I hate late. The guy is a decent chap, though and telling me that half way down the hall is a cappuccino joint. On arrival the first half hour is gone, and I am not really feeling at ease. It would be just lovely to know how far I have to go to get to the right gate, the board around the corner however tells me nothing new. It is small so I can’t read it from the coffee shop and me the un-cool traveler is quickly gulping down a hot Cappuccino – eventually a hot one – and a cake, burning my tongue while the rest of sophistication goes down the drain. Repeated board consultation doesn’t bring any news and so goes the first hour of my break.

Maybe I should find an information stand. Later it would turn out that there are two, but of course I am choosing the one furthest away.

There I am told that only an hour before the flight – not the boarding, which is half an hour before – they will know the gate, that it is confirmed now, and this time my letter is ‘J’ the place where I just came from. On reaching the spot I feel nicely worked through, the coat is keeping me warmer than expected and the so reasonably packed bag is starting to feel like a suitcase – while the board still refuses to confirm. Hoping that the guy who told me the gate knows his job I am settling into a chair to write it all down, not without getting up every 5 minutes or so, taking bag, coat and computer with me to check the darn board. Eventually! Confirmation! And a number to go with the ‘J’ which tells me that I am in the right spot. Now I can relax – for 25 minutes of the total 150.

This whole thing sort of spoils the cool look.

Madrid  Airport

... and from the other end!

I walked this bloody hall twice, got rather hot in the meantime and now am looking so disheveled that nobody would ever consider me an example for a cool traveler. That teaches me another lesson: Sophistication needs money. To pull off the Clooney travel style one needs to have access to VIP lounges where everything is taken care of.

Now I am on my second leg and a few thousand feet high up in the air. I am sweating with a vigorously coughing baby right behind me, so be prepared that in a couple of weeks time or so I will be moaning about a cold. See, babies don’t travel business class - only babes do, and handsome guys like George Clooney. I really need to publish this book that I am writing – and you, for crying out loud: Go and buy it! I need to get rich!


Men, Women, Humand kind and the Gods

- or: How to cheat properly! -

Who on earth thought it a good idea to use female and male humans as the different genders of the same species. It is as if project management failed horribly when the Gods created the living things. That happens in the best of companies, right? The right hand is not entirely sure what the left is doing and Bob’s your uncle… the production line is messed up!

In the end they must have found that they were left with two species which didn’t quite match and they must have thought: Well, it did cost a lot of money to get them made, let’s just throw them together and see what happens.

After I had already commented on an article about the gender differences in nest building and seasonal decoration habits I now stumbled across another one about cheating. I always thought cheating is, well… cheating. But apparently not.

According to this article women are catching up in regard to frequency – not sure if that is a good or a bad thing – but how the aftermath is handled, that is evolving on a very different level.

Apparently the first thing a woman asks is: ‘Do you love her?’ What already implies one of the problems should she be cheating… love is her measure for the gravity of the cheat. Since a fling is not something that would tear her world apart, attention is something very nice to attract and the ravages of time are not getting any kinder on us, she even might allow herself a little slip and thus stepping onto the slippery slope that leads to love with the initial fling.

Should he be the culprit, she needs a bit of time to get reassured that he only had a fling – of course she needs to see 'the other woman' to figure out her position in this picking order and to establish the appropriate actions to stay on top for the future. That done, she might well be willing to take him back… and a guilty man is a good man!

Now, this article is suggesting that men see it very much differently when women cheat. His first question would be: Did you have sex? In the male world performance seems to be the measure for the gravity of a cheat. The very fact that apparently quality and/or quantity was not sufficiently provided from his side as otherwise the wife would not have strayed, seems to be hitting right into the core.

So now imagine her trying to explain her fling by proclaiming: But it was just sex! Oh oh, that would be pouring oil into the fire.

How on earth is woman supposed to get out of this when the starting point of the quarrel is on such different positions. See, again the Gods didn't get it right. Even the remedy for the intricate situation lies on the different ends of the spectrum and is best depicted with the proverb: ‘A woman needs to feel good to have sex and a guy needs to have sex to feel good’.

A lot of make-up sex might put him at ease, but given that she just broke up with her lover that seems to be an unlikely option for her.

So there are only two things that come to mind to avoid the hassle.

Either: Don’t do it!

Or: Do it right and don’t get caught, for crying out loud!


Winter Blues

According to the Telegraph today is the officially most depressing day of the whole year: Winter blues par excellence!

Combine that with an all time low of hormones and lack of sleep, and you will get a rough idea of my mood status – this isn’t anything close to the usual mood swings, this is grown-up gloom. The symptom that might give the best indication of how far up the scale I am, is when shifting gear on my way to the food store sounds like beating the record on TopGear for a round in the reasonably priced car.

So there I was this morning Monday, 18th January, starring at the sandwich bread that just wouldn’t want to transform into sandwiches all by itself and was close to giving it all up – again! Boooohooooo, why am I here? What am I doing? Nobody is interested in my website, why do I bother? Wahhaaaaaa!

I had hoped that my morning coffee with a bit of celeb gossip would cheer me up, and promptly I stumbled over an article on ‘Invisible Women in their 40s’. Well, that DID cheer me up – it’s wonderful to be understood, to not feeling alone in the world, and to know that apparently there are still women out there who might be interested in my writings. Didn’t this article just cheer ME up? I should be able to write one that will pass this cheer on! Unfortunately I then started reading the comments...

Uuuuhhh, please don’t cheer me up by telling me how good I have it! I know that there are loads of wonderful women out there, who are so much better than I am, who have a hard life and are coping without a single moan, and that I should strive to step into their footsteps and that I should stop pitying myself and rather go out to safe the world.

... it’s just.... I didn’t choose to be moody today... and now my coffee is empty and I have to make sandwiches and I don’t know how to safe the world... it’s so big!... whhhhfffff....hmmmm... whhhhfffff... and I’m tired and nobody listens and ....

So now not just carrying my own mood, but the burden of the world, I trudged downstairs to attend to the sandwich problem.

Then I heard hubby in the next room! “I need a HUUUUGG!” ... and then the darling downloaded the IL statistics – ohhhh, risky - ... and found that we are on a steep incline. People DO read, and they ARE interested! And then the letterbox rattled and I got a letter from a Twitter friend telling me that I would be allowed to attend a ‘Primate Enrichment Session’ at Colchester Zoo, meaning that I will be able to see behind the scenes of the Orangutan enclosure. How wonderful is that?

Two lovely people did something nice for me and all of a sudden the day is a bit brighter, and now that it is afternoon even the sun decided to have a look from behind the clouds.

Oh well, life is not too bad after all, and maybe I’m now strong enough to take on a little bit of the world.

Related links:

Stupid Hormones
Can't Cheet the Sandman
Am I too spoilt?



What is happening to me? On one end I am all ‘wildlife experience, Orangutan charity’ –ish and on the other I can’t get enough from TV-glamour-celeb gossip.

From one of the links thrown at me by Twitter I stumbled over the Daily mail website – I must have done before but never cared – but now I am hooked. First thing in the morning when I sneak back upstairs with my cup of cappuccino to sit a bit in my artificial sun, which by the way seems to be working for me, the first thing I look at is the gossip page. Oh, maybe it IS the sun, that Ibiza feel that triggers it?

However, I am thrilled to see 51 year old Sharon Stone without make-up and then glammed up, thinking: Well, a bit of paint does do some good to an old house, I really should learn how to decorate my face for those emergency moments when a big outing is looming.

And I am thrilled to see which funny turns the articles take. Like the one about Fergie - Black Eyed Peas – Ferguson where the headline suggests it’s about her and husband showing up at an event allegedly to brush aside a stripper’s affair claims. The first turn then takes us to her staring alongside famous people in a film of which the premiere saw or did not see – so weirdly phrased that I don’t really get it – a megastar cast, and the last twist explains the lives of those megastars and whether they have singing skills or not, and then the big final: a picture of the whole cast where Fergie – she is incredibly short, even in heals – is fading somewhere in the background. Hmm, and I am working my brains out to be consistent in my stories.

I guess what excites me most however, is that my voyeurism is getting satisfied. Oh, all these wonderful wobblies, and fashion faux pas, all the make-up mistakes and misbehaviours… wonderful how human these celebs are. And bringing their status down a few degrees seems to be bringing mine up a similar amount, creating this tingly feel-good factor. Just that it’s not true; it only levels things out a bit. The decent way to reduce the status gap, would be to work my way up rather than bringing them down. Oh well, and then of course there is this bit of malicious glee that is born out of envy.

But you know what? It’s just lovely to live all these mean little feelings for this brief, half sleepy moment when I am sitting with my cuppa and my light, trying to find the entrance door to the day ahead. Consciousness is not yet fully awaken, which for the rest of the day at least tries to make me the good gal I am supposed and want to be. So with the guards still down it’s only between my computer and me… and the machine won’t tell anybody…, or will it?


Christmas Perfectionism & Compliance


'The search for a way out'

I came across a column published in the 'Mail Online' claiming that Christmas stress is home made by women. I have to admit: The author has a point. I was like that, and since I changed it I was always wondering why I feel obliged to excuse my lack of Christmas enthusiasm:

Oh see, we don’t have kids. Christmas with tree and all is only really nice with kids. And in the meantime our house is so cluttered I have to re-organise everything to get the tree in. Well, and our parents are not travelling over Christmas… no, we don’t travel either. We didn’t do that when we were back in Germany. The traffic is horrendous and so many people died in accidents. Our parents never wanted us to travel. So no, we are not going to see our families.

Truth is: I probably miss one single trip to a Christmas market. I'd liked to have a ham roll and a bag of caramelised almonds. But that is enough, anything beyond that is just plain noisy, smelly and exhausting. I’d like to see my parents for one lunch and probably an afternoon tea. And I’d like to have a Christmas tree for probably 3 days. It just creates such a lovely atmosphere. But again, beyond that, the tree is a nuisance taking a lot of place, the cat will smash another few baubles and throw up over the tinsel it has nibbled.

Would I have a traditional Christmas

  • I would have gained at least 5 pounds - I know that because it happened in the past
  • I won’t be able to shift this weight at least until summer - which I know about because it happened before
  • I would have taken at least 3 additional days of my A/L to get everything in place before, and to tidy up after, and
  • I will be going back to work in the New Year and be happy that eventually everything is back to normal and that I can relax now. Later in the year when the weather is lovely, I will be missing those additional 3 days of leave which I took and wasted, and I know that because I experienced it before.

Thus it will be the 3rd year now that I am skipping Christmas. Hubby and I, we just don’t go there. And it is wonderful. Well, I did gain weight in the previous two years due to biscuits and cakes during the run-up to Christmas - that stuff is just jumping into ones face from every shelf. This year it’s only 2 weeks to go and I even lost some thanks to the sugar experiment. I didn’t fall into the trap and I am proud of it. Additionally I set me a challenge for end of February – a new photo shoot. I am looking forward to catching up with a few things I always wanted to do: Eventually I will be able to read, to find out how to publish my book, and to start work on the new IL site.

Well, and as for the excuses… it's a female thing to play down a great thing in front of her girl friends to not make them feel bad. And although everybody seems to love Christmas, nobody loves the run-up to it. I have a hunch that some of my friends might like to have what I have, at least for once, to try it out. Maybe not to the full extreme, only just a little bit. But they can’t. There are the family commitments, the tit-for-tat game that has to be played in regard to gifts, the kids who do like Christmas and are not to be disappointed, and no two ways about it: Food is the pinnacle of hospitality and hence has to be perfect. So I play down my joy about my Christmas lifestyle, allowing them to pity me.

In the end of the day however, we are all responsible for our own actions and I think the Mail column is tapping right into the IL philosophy: If you like it, then go ahead. If you are not happy, then stop moaning and change it. Doesn’t have to be drastic, small changes sometimes work wonders.

So I am wholeheartedly wishing you a wonderful Christmas with your families. Enjoy the festive season to the full, and no need to pity me.


Column Talk

Since I am pretending to be a writer, making up concoctions like this one, I discovered that there seem to be certain codes of conduct in place for this sort of writing. Columns are non-fictional in a weird way. One is writing about something that grasped the attention at one point in life and when the time feels right this bit of real life occurrence is turned into a comedy, a farce or a good rant on a very small sheet of paper. Those snippets however are far from a proper documentary, and hence looked down at by ‘real’ writers. Columns are a bit like speed dating, everything shrivelled down to the essentials.

Well, your humble narrator usually is cheating a bit, stretching these dates to the limit. I am not restricted to paper where a column IS a real column – 500 words or so - one can’t drift into the margins. And see, there is another rule: The narrator is always very 'humble'. We are ranting a lot and apparently knowing everything about everything - why else would we write about it? But when it comes to addressing ourselves, we are desperately trying to get ourselves out of the line of fire by pretending not to know a thing while taking the mickey out of ourselves. It is a brilliant way of getting away with things.

And now there is something else I realised: Thanks to the internet we found a wonderful way of bragging. These days columns are often run within blogs where communities form and comments are left, resulting in chains of conversation which sometimes are funnier than the blog itself; so far a reason for me to not run the columns in a blog. See, and then we visit each others blogs and leave comments including links to our own pamphlets, trying to confuse the community and to win them over.

Oh well, at least I do that! But I have an excuse: I am not famous; I have to steal attention wherever I can. Whereas there are some very generous, famous columnists like Nury, who let me thrive on their wave. Out of this a conversation via columns took place on Nury’s blog which I would like to tell you about… well, and it is another wonderful opportunity to brag about myself! Here is:

The story of 'He is so sweet!'

I love it when a story goes circles especially when it happens to one of mine, and especially if this circle contains a lot of praise for me. It all started when I left a comment on Nury’s blog asking when he is doing all this writing. A column EVERY day! And they are all good ones. If I am on a high I can come up with one a week and if I get lucky, then every other is a good one. Hence the valid question: When on earth does one find the time for that?


Dear Rika, thanks for your kind words--I had a visit to your site and found it great fun. (Click on Rika's name at the bottom of her comment above to go straight to her page.) As for how I write so often, I'm not sure what the answer is. One thing is that I get up early -- six o'clock this morning and straight to work on this site in my pajamas, before getting into a suit and heading off to the office to do my real job. The other thing is the pressure of having readers. Once you know you have a few, then you can't let them down--I'm sure you feel the same!

Yay! He likes my site… and he is assuming that I have readers... and well yes, the reader thing is true. Although I am writing on a weekly basis: I didn’t miss a single Wednesday in two and a half years. Who knows, there might be someone actually coming back... Nevertheless: Writing in the mornings – what an idea! So I wrote my own column on that matter, called 'He is so sweet!'.

Time went by, about one and a half years of it, when all of a sudden he wrote a column – much funnier than mine – about the same kind of start into the day… hmmm?! That sound’s like somebody had a bit of a lifestyle change… So I couldn’t help but leave another comment:

My dear sweetheart Nury, welcome to the real world!

A good two years ago I asked you how on earth you manage to write all that stuff you are writing, and I got a response:

Oh yes! I am German, remember?

Back then this inspired me to write my own account of my sad life: and reading through it again I now feel blessed; your life seems to be even sadder than mine.

But it gave you a new column...

Posted by: Rika | Thursday, 26 November 2009 at 02:51 PM

And again I got a lovely response. First a lot of praise for other commentators I am not keen to bore you with, and then:

Rika, I love your site. Anybody who hasn't been to it -- do make a visit, click on Rika's name in the comment above. She writes really well. You can really picture her.

Posted by: Nury | Thursday, 26 November 2009 at 07:43 PM

See, one may say a lot of bad things about the internet, the fake friends luring you into an addictive internet lifestyle, the crimes and abuses. Well, it pretty much depends on how one uses this thing, I guess. This example shows that it can truly connect people across the world, although… Nury is desperately trying to prove that Angela, one of the gang members is real,… and sometimes… hmm…?!? … his pictures look so airbrushed… I will have to go to Hong Kong one day and track him down!


Moaners and Whiners

Me being a Gemini sometimes has this weird effect of finding my 'Second Me' standing right next to me, observing. I would love to think that I am floating around like an angel or an airy ghost, but no, I’m just plain silly and non-gorgeously standing there.

Second Me’s duty seems to be to give me a replay of things when I am not really prepared for it, just to tease a bit. Like when I am under a nice hot shower and all of a sudden I am punished with an additional hot flush of vivid, Technicolor-recollection: ‘Oh my goodness, I didn’t really do this, did I?’

From those recollections I realised that apparently I do moan a lot. I seem to be moaning about almost everything; I moan about things going on in the world, at work and especially about things related to me: fat legs, stringy hair, veins, no time, lack of sleep, wrinkles,… You name it I moan about it.

On the other hand, though I am a happy bunny. How do those two things go together then? Now it occurred to me: There is a difference between moaners and whiners.

Moaners are actually people who take a close look on things and have a lot of interests. A bit opinionated, maybe, but generally they want to know how thing work and why they are the way they are. Additionally a moaner talks a lot, hence every question that might pop up while observing, comes straight out of their mouth: ‘Why on earth, is that green and not blue? Why can’t they have street work done at night? Oh my goodness, look at these wobblies, why oh why do women have to have them, sooo unfair!?!’

Now, whiners are usually similarly opinionated, but there is a difference. While the moaner expresses opinions in a firm voice with theatrical intonation, the whiner resorts to a rather high pitched, faint voice as if carrying all the weight of all those questions on their shoulders. They constantly are expecting more questions to crop up adding to the load, what makes them miserable before it even happens. Due to their concerned state of mind they consider themselves the pillars of society - what do I say – of the world, and do they get praise? No, of course not! Not a single: ‘Thank You’. Ever!

See, that is the big difference between moaners and whiners: While whiners consider everything happening in their oh so miserable lives the fault of others which one can’t do anything about, the moaner is not judgemental: Opinionated yes, judgemental no! For them ‘sh.. just happens’ and as far as they are concerned one can do something about it. Moaning is what drives them to make things better, to take things into their own hands. They might be a bit pushy at times, but since their frame of mind is set on improvement they are able to learn and to change their minds about things, something a whiner can’t do.

It would be nice though, if once in a while all of them would just shut up!


My Very Own Sun

This morning, Saturday 7th November 2009, I received my very own sun via Royal Mail Special delivery.

You don’t believe that the Royal Mail delivers the sunshine these days… Think hard! How often did we have sunshine? … and how often have they been on strike?...There you are!

So to make sure you receive your very own you have to put in an online order. Mine was for Amazon and thanks to special delivery I got it after two days already.

My little sun is small, cute and comes with a travel bag – very important these days since even in southerly holiday locations sun is not guaranteed anymore – so better take your own.

Aint it cute?

The reason why I eventually decided to invest into my own was the telly. I tend to watch too much, but this time it was good I did. A doctor was interviewed regarding a common condition which patients complain about in winter: Tired, hungry for carbos, grumpy down to depression. Well I always thought that is how one feels and wouldn’t have necessarily thought about bothering my GP with it. And then I remembered another telly incident. I watched Stephen Fry explaining his depression, and he, being an author and man of the word in general, described it so vividly that at some point I blasted out: ‘Oh that feeling I know!’ … and Detlef – dear hubby, that is – almost fell off his chair. He never had experienced any of this, found it rather interesting that others do, but could not relate to it the least bit, while I was glued to the screen.

Well, depression comes in degrees and it seems that some people have it coming in waves, and some have it coming from certain events. And it seems that people in a depressive phase seem to hide away, so nobody knows, really. Only Detlef knows me when I am down, sleeping all day, or watching telly. I can’t write, well I can, but it’s all rubbish and lacking wit. I am not creative, and if I try – theoretically depression is to give in when the victim is doing something nice – so if I try, I am so clumsy that everything turns into a listless design, smudged and brittle. Photos are out of focus because my eyes are slow and heavy… I’m just useless in phases like those, thus the nice theory mentioned above is herewith put to rest.

Age helps in a way because it made me more experienced. At work I know my ways and focus on the stuff that doesn’t need a lot of thinking, and when I have to meet people I hope I can fake it well enough. I seem to be a lighter case and usually it’s gone after a couple of days.

However, the interesting thing is that I thought it's normal and seeing this doctor talking about it made me realise that it is not! They even invented a fancy acronym for it: SAD – Seasonal Affective Disorder

More interestingly even, there seems to be a simple cure – which is to get your own sun. I even had heard about it before some 15 years ago. My in-laws got a rather big device, something like an A3 desk lamp with several fluorescent tubes and depending on the number of tubes, one has to sit in front for 20 minutes to an hour daily. Back then it was a word-of-mouth thing like taking some herbal remedies for all sorts of things. These lights were expensive and bulky so I didn’t consider it further and forgot all about it.

Now I instantly used my geeky husband to research the matter properly and a couple of hours later I found an email with three links describing the most suitable products. Two were still the bulky type using power leads – oh how I hate cables, they are utterly depression enhancing – and one was the little cute less than A5 size battery operated blue light.

Firstly I love blue light. Whenever I see these blue Christmas decorations on houses I go 'Oh' and 'Ah', and given the choice of blue or red LEDs on electric devices I always would choose blue. Additionally it seems to put less strain on the eyes as some people get headaches from the fluorescent tubes. Well, we have to see about that. And we will have to see if it works at all. It is supposed to help against winter blues and jet lag as well.

Main task now is to get it working, it has to charge for an initial eight hours – bahhh – later it’s only four or so, but I briefly had it on using the mains and it is … bright … and blue … so that will have to be it for now. It’s said that after a couple of weeks one is supposed to feel a difference…

Well, until then folks: In good homeopathic tradition of 'like cures like' let's try to fight 'The Blues' with somethig blue!


Now! That is somewhat interesting!

The matter if intelligence always fascinated me, probably because I am not. Well, or at least I think I am not because I am in an environment where everybody is so much smarter than me. Put those guys into a group of Nobel Prize winners and they appear pretty dumb, though.

And see that is the thing: We ordinary mortals compare our levels of smartness to the people we are with. Scientist then go into their ivory towers and tell us that they found an absolute measure and this is the only way to figure out whether or not one is smart: Do a test, count the points and there you are, well or not! And because it is fun to openly humiliate people these tests are used in schools and TV shows. Britain is especially good in finding the smartest brain via television which usually has to do with spelling, maths, and the task of recognising things quickly and re-arranging them – and usually I am feeling like crap afterwards.

So why am I coping well in an environment with loads of smart people without feeling dumb all the time – I work as a secretary in an research lab – while when watching the telly and getting asked all those questions my mood is sinking rock bottom?

I now figured it out! And that is why I find this subject somewhat interesting.

The scientists got it wrong, and because they got it wrong for a long time, their ways of handling the matter have entered the mainstream so much that it is hard to get it removed from it. See, in order to measure something you have to define it first - and you have to define the scale you want to measure with. So, if you wanted to have people measuring up sugar you have to make sure that everybody knows how sugar looks like.

Now, there is normal sugar and the brown one and then we have Caster sugar which is a bit finer and then we have Icing sugar which is entirely powdery. If your recipe works on grams you are fine to use a scale. But what happens if your recipe is in gram and you are using a measuring cup? A scale measures weight, and a cup measures volume. If you put a cup full of coarse sugar on a scale it weighs something different then a cup full of icing sugar because between the grains of the coarse sugar there is actually no sugar but air - which doesn't weigh a thing, while the icing sugar is packed much denser and hence you have more sugar in it.

It is a difficult matter isn’t it. When you do your baking you intuitively do the right thing because you have a feeling for it, you already did it a few times and you just know what is right. But try to explain it to somebody else, and then try to write it down for all the rest of the people who you can’t talk to in person. This becomes quite a task, and we are only talking about sugar, something you can see and touch.

And now imagine somebody would tell you: I am about to explain how to measure ‘Intelligence’, Yay!

This person must be bonkers. You can’t touch it, you can’t see it, what the hell is intelligence anyway?

See, and that is where they got it wrong. They didn’t define it right. They thought intelligence is all that stuff like maths and so on; scientists call it abstract thinking. Take trees! Trees are fine, trees are real. I have no problem with counting trees. The number ‘1’ is not fine, nor is the number ‘2’ – don’t laugh, I am trying to be serious here – these numbers represent something else, but the ARE NOT the 'something else'. They are a thin, weirdly bent line on paper. 1+2 is something we can handle because we learned it and if you would add the word apples it even would makes sense, I’d love to have three apples.

But what about?

That doesn’t mean anything to me and never will. Although the bits and pieces surely do represent some real thing, but it is ‘abstract’, it doesn’t look like the real thing at all.

And it is all that stuff that scientists thought is what makes people intelligent. There was one big hiccup with the scientific world in regard to brain related stuff: Instead of trying to figure out what makes people tick the scientists relied on and concluded from their own individual experience and their own skill set. So a mathematicians would measure with maths, while linguists might use word games kind of things and they would hence build a very different theory about the same question, in this case: What is intelligence and how to measure it.

And now it turns out: It’s all not true. Already in the 1970s and 1980s there were a few really smart guys proposing a different definition for intelligence. One of them is Howard Gardner and he suggested a multi intelligence model defining seven different kinds of intelligence in people. This definition looks into the different ways people use to approach the world they live in and how they solve problems. These seven are:

  • Linguistic – using words
  • Logical/mathematical – using abstract things
  • Bodily-Kinesthetic – love to move about
  • Spatial – translate everything into pictures
  • Musical – love music
  • Interpersonal – like to communicate with others
  • Intrapersonal – may be shy, but very aware of own feelings and self motivated

That already makes a lot more sense. I for example quite like to listen to music, but it is not my way of approaching the world, and although I like writing, words are not my most intuitive way into the world. I am using writing at a later stage of problem solving, but the very first thing that happens when I hear or read something is to translate it into some sort of imagery or colour. It happens automatically, so I am definitely a ‘Spatial’ person. Additionally I am an Interpersonal gal and my Intrapersonal skills are not to bad either

And now I saw a documentary on the telly about all the new computer stuff and what the future will bring and what sort of robots they are already able to build…

... Robots?!?

… robots are important! They are important because they are mimicking human behaviour. The better they get the more scientists actually understand what makes humans tick. And it is incredible what modern robots can already do. They work on a very emotional level, the address cuteness, helpfulness, pity, love and many more things which we don’t usually associate with robots. In this BBC4 documentary on 'The Intelligence Revolution' Dr. Michio Kaku said the one phrase which inspired me to write all this. He said:

Emotional intelligence is the most important form of intelligence we have!


Emotional intelligence? Isn’t emotion the resort of hysteric women? Isn’t that the thing that is to be excluded from the business world? Isn’t that the one thing we have to exclude from science to be able to take reasonable decisions? And all of a sudden it is the most important thing we have?

Emotional Intelligence became fashionable when Daniel Goleman published a book in 1995, and I remember that my father-in-law used to tell me about it when I was all too self-conscious about the fact that I was crap at university and that I was about to fail again - did I tell you that my subject was computer science? Me of all people, and computer science... Whenever I was low I tried to promote this idea of emotional intelligence, which nobody else in the world seemed to know about, and I again looked a bit of an idiot who just wanted to excuse another failure.

Well, time has apparently worked for me and 14 years on it is considered the most important type of intelligence there is. And I am guessing the reason for me being so comfortable in a world full of these IT researchers is that I can solve problems easily which they can’t. I might not be able to build a rocket, but there are a whole lot of things I can do better than these conventionally smart guys – and I am the only one there, I am invaluable!

Yay! I like this theory!

See, THIS I just find very interesting. This is something we ladies usually are intuitively good at. This is something we should ADD to the business and science world, rather then copying the boffins and suppressing this wonderful skill.

Off you go girls!
This century could be the era of the ladies!


Nudism VS. Fur

What is this with us humans and being naked? Gosh we are so squeamish!

We seem to be so proud of having lost the fur what makes us oh so distinguishable from our fellow primates, and now we go berserk if there is naked flesh on show. Well, almost all of us lost the fur, and although to some body hair has a rugged attraction I am assuming that the majority prefers the groomed look, the more that the remnants of our ancestral skin cover have a tendency to show in areas where they are less attractive.

Couldn’t we just have kept it, made a style out of it and got on with our lives? Would have saved us a lot of money for fashionable supplements and bickering about wobbly bits. But NO! We have to make it part of our civilizing efforts to determine what can be on show and what has to be hidden away. It however seems to be a cultural thing as well: The Germans, for example, have an extremely weird reputation. They are thought to be hairy AND naked…

I don’t know where this ‘Germans are hairy’ thing is coming from. I am pretty sure that they as well spend a fortune on getting things sorted as human culture demands these days. But the naked thing is absolutely true.

I got inspired to think these few thoughts by some holiday greetings a fellow commentator on Mr Jam’s Diary had send. At first the poor thing was shocked to find that on visiting a sauna in the lovely city of Stuttgart all sorts of naked folks was hopping around.

Having escaped the experience alive and with a still sound mind, Angela moved on to the Mediterranean and then made a tiny mistake. She entered the boat of a German skipper who gave her a close-up view on a pretty beach of Mallorca. Not knowing that half of Mallorca is occupied by Germans, again she was in for a bit of a surprise when there were naked people basking like grill chickens in their hundreds.

The same happens when I go on my winter holidays to Fuerteventura. German hotel beach equals naked people, and of course each hotel has at least one pool for the nudes and of course you go to the sauna in the costume you were born with.

And every time I go there something weird happens. I go with the flow and throw off my clothes – and it feels… normal! For once it feels really weird when everybody is naked and you are not; it is much worse to be the odd one out, rather than being naked.

But there is something else. These days it doesn’t feel just normal, it feels liberating. I have written about this subject before and depicted that it can’t be in my upbringing. I had a phase when I only joined in under group pressure and wasn’t comfortable at all – although I looked millions better back then. It must be an old age confidence thing then, and apparently I have become one of these ‘confident due to not having to lose anything anymore’ culprits myself. Hence most of the nudes are not the ones who can afford it, but the amazingly many – oh well, how to put it kindly – oddly shaped people who drop their clothes.

Told you: We should have kept the fur!

Why on Earth does it have to be Ballet?

For starters: I am not a musical person! Never was!

My mum is the only person in this whole world who thinks that I have a nice voice, but mums believe their babies are pretty…

In my early teens I was admitted to a gymnastics class and we did all sorts of dance stuff. The thing I liked best was the tight red body with long sleeves and white rim – the ones we wore at school were cotton and had short sleeves. This one was elegant, and I felt very special. I even made it into a performance and didn’t fail my mates. Blessed times! Everything after that was fraught with embarrassment and a lot of stiffness around the hips.

See, in the later teens one wants to be cool – and I just wasn’t. When dancing at parties all the others had these routines like 'The Hustle' and no way could I ever remember which way round to turn. Tried my luck with ballroom dancing, but after a year or so the trainer has certain expectations in regard to the pupil’s performance – well, needless to say that I was not at the top of the class. Same with Jazz dance and any other kind of aerobics. I can never remember the routines and what do I know where left and right is. Since I moved to England everything is upside down anyway. When giving directions I point, but I don’t say.

So, now it is ballet, eh?

Yeah well, although I am not good at it I just like moving to music. So I thought I’d give it another shot and try to actually learn how to do it right. And what is better to find balance and posture than ballet? So one might think.

Off I went to the newly opened dance centre to enquire, got confirmed that it is not a problem that I already missed the first two classes of the term – we proceed slowly – and decided to be back: Monday, 6PM, be early, admission from 5, classes fill quickly.

An hour before I wanted to leave the house I realised that changing there means changing room…oh! … shaving! … oh! … barefoot … feet … oh! …

Made it well in time nevertheless, paid my five quid, changed and met the trainer before everybody else came. Good! Can brief her that I am an utter newbie.

She is very kind, very ballet, half a head shorter than I am and half as thin, very elegant and fragile looking with an English rose complexion and a similarly faint voice. 'Oh yes we have shelves, you can have your things and water in here and no that is no problem that you are new – we are proceeding slowly…' - OK!

Oh my goodness! You should have seen me!

I had my place next to an open window, street noise deafening the one ear while the other one was trying to catch the faint voice. I whished I were a cartoon character to extend it into a satellite dish – not that I would have understood any of the French murmuring. Turns out that these people are doing ballet since a long time, they know the drills, they are just not daring enough to take it to the next, meaning advanced, level.

Clutching the bar with the left hand I had a girl in front of me who was really good and whom I could follow. As soon as we had to turn round to move the other half of the body I was lost. Of course one can’t turn the head to search for the trainer, so most of the time arms and legs were fiddling purposelessly in the air like a bug on its back.

And then the highlight: Ever seen Fame or any other dance movie? They always split into groups and then diagonally jumping and twirling through the room followed by the next group and then the next, and they all look so gorgeous as they jump and twirl… Ahemmm… in the last group was yours truly, … and step step and slide and stop and hop and turn – no the other direction – and hop and step! … Yep! Me! And you know what? I wasn’t the least bit embarrassed. I don’t know if it’s the Omega 3 that I am taking since more than a year or just a newly gained confidence. Probably being older is a good thing: Nobody expects you to be cool or perfect. People are sort of impressed that one tries at all… fine by me!

The next day I had a lovely muscle ache in all the right places – bum, thighs and calves. So I will be back and see if I can nail that task, and if not: Who cares?! At least it does my rear some good!

Update 22th October: Class 2, two weeks later

Apparently I wasn't the only one in need for a hearing aid, and apparently the acoustic of the room gives instructers a hard time to get through. But the dear thing did her best and so the lesson was much better.

And it seems as if she didn't want to put off newbies by correcting them too much - hence me not getting help. This time she jumped in and I felt like actually improving. I now know that I am not too bad with arms, but a crap jumper; that my pelvis is all over the place and hence my balance is lacking and most of all - that I am stiff as a log. Not that I was told, but in being able to follow the instructions better I easily could feel for myself where I am lacking skill.

One thing is good though: I enjoy being old! Nobody is expecting anything brilliant - Yay! For the first time I can make a monkey out of myself without feeling like one. Brilliant!

Definitely will go on!


Confidence & Humour

I have come across something that made me wonder if my interest in bringing Bodybuilding into the mainstream might have to do with a very personal quest. I could just do my own thing and leave it as it is, but no: I have to campaign and try convincing people that joining me would be doing them good. Why on earth is that?

See, I am a Gemini, and I always was interested in a lot of things. It however is one thing to have a lot of interests, and it is another not being able to decide where to focus and hence not really knowing what sort of person one wants to be. I don’t mean that in terms of general goals, I mean that in regard to which image to display. Some women are ladies, some are tomboys, some are mums and some are business women – what am I? Well, I’m not a mum, but I had my broody phase.

When I joined all these social networking sites I realized how quickly one gets branded. On MySpace I am a Bodybuilder and a rather blokish girl, an image which apparently has a certain sex appeal and not just for men; on LinkedIn I wanted to present my writing side but they don’t let me get away without a company name. As soon as I typed BT, that was it! I only get connected with BT people, and mainly IT guys contact me. I am not an IT person for crying out loud, I am a part time secretary and I want to make it as a writer – Help!

Where do I belong? In sport I am a rather good indoor rower as well as a Bodybuilder; I like to dress up and I like to go in combat trousers. However, because my shape is a bit different than the mainstream, people wonder if I should dress up in frills and laces, and if I should wear 5 inch heels, and if I should be interested in Make-up. A sport person is not into make-up, right?

Now I came across something very interesting, actually someone very interesting: Dita von Teese. She is a burlesque dancer and she created herself as this person since she was a teenager. She is always the same, on stage and in private. I admire her for her determination, her openness, her style and finesse. She is not entirely beautiful, but she radiates a confidence which outshines the most beautiful supermodel.

When I read her book and how she came about to be the person she is now, I got really jealous. She knew from teenage age what type of woman she wanted to portrait and went straight for it; and then I started day dreaming and bringing things together and then it occurred to me:

In a way she is restricted. She might be able to walk those heels better than anyone else, and she might always look pristine in her corset laced shape, and thanks to the perfection achieved by this kind of focus she might have become stinking rich by now, but she never gets to feel the fun of getting dirty in the garden and the power of being able to lift the weights I do; and I still can lace up and wear my heels. My hands may look a bit scruffy and my muscles may look a bit antagonistic, but I’d make a decent diva.

We both moved out of the mainstream, and as soon as one dares doing so one gets looked over by some; she for her burlesque and I for my muscles.

And although we both confidently claim that we don’t care; can it be that we are secretly wishing to belong?

Can it be that one is creating tasteful perfection so that she becomes a worthy advocate for making burlesque an accepted art form? And can it be that the other is creating a community for herself in which she will blend in?

Well, could be!

But not really, though! At least not for me; the stronger I get, the less I want to blend in. Confidence comes with control over ones body and of course I would like to see more women finding confidence. Confidence leads to passion and from there to success and back to confidence. Dita is a dancer and always was body conscious. I have been fat and don’t have a musical bone in my body; sport is the only way to achieve a similar effect.

And ultimately the best friend of confidence is humor! Judgmental people I shrug off with laughter.

Nothing wrong with that!

You don't know a lot about women, do you?

There are no two ways about it: Men and women approach the issues of life differently. I’m not saying that one way is better than the other: Just ‘different’!

It is a bit like talking different languages; misunderstandings are not easily avoided if one doesn’t see the joke in a weird phrase and takes it with a bit of humour. Talking different languages is a rather obvious obstacle while having the two genders of the same species interact should be straight forward, shouldn’t it?

See it is a cultural thing; it is how interaction within a gender works fine and is trained from childhood on, which then backfires when the two mingle. For example take a random problem occurring: The guy will decide on a way forward quickly, without having all the facts and being very confident that he will be able to troubleshoot should it be necessary. It is all about getting into the game, and checking out the competition. Amending the plan as he goes along, he is flexible to changes but prone to mistakes. It is a high risk strategy which is very successful when it works, but very disastrous if not.

A gal would gather all the facts, would come up with plan A, B, C and probably D and then realise that the guy already pulled all the resources. For her it is about planning success and if it is a problem where time is not an issue – or guys are not around - she usually is successful in a very efficient way. Since she has at least three strategies, and knows her stuff inside out she is flexible in a more planned way, hence a high probability for a successful end.

See, depending on the problem both strategies have advantages and are equally successful, it’s just that in mixed teams woman usually are the...slower... backup crew doing the nitty-gritty work in case the male boss misjudged the situation and details are needed, while he is out there showing his face and hence earning the praise.

It is not about which style is more valuable, both approaches are needed to ensure success, it is about how society values the ‘face’ of a project and not the busy bees in the background.

Thus it is established that henceforth we are talking about differences in a non-judgmental way – oh well, I may get a bit judgmental at times, but be honest; it’s more fun that way. So let’s get more specific.

Women are highly competitive!

Despite the common business wisdom that women are not good in competing and hence they have trouble in climbing the career ladder, be assured: Women are competitive; more than any man ever will be. Only that their way of showing it differs from the male approach. The full on, mock-fact bullshit is not their style. A woman who enters this arena usually lacks these early playground years when guys practice their skills by fighting over toys and showing off their penises. Additionally she can’t avoid being a woman between men and that’s when the latter feel an itch in a certain area depriving them of concentration. Thus untrained, with men paying attention to the wrong arguments she is bound to become a bitch when she wins, and when she loses, the male world is put back into the right place and she becomes woman instead of business women again.

In regard to social competition there is rarely a mix between genders. For men it means ‘man against man’ in sports, cars, mistresses,… basically about a lot of things one can buy. For women it either means ‘women vs. oneself’, or women vs. women: And it’s about everything one has to work hard for. The title of best mum, cook, gardener, figure and dresser is always at stake and usually being member of several social circles that means a battle on many front lines. Well, we tend to buy things as well, but when we overdo that we have lost in the eyes of our peers already: ‘Look at her! She got another dress and those shoes. Is it really necessary to only buy brands? Bitch, it’s all her husband’s money!’

Guys come home with a trophy in their hands; for the new car the garage gets cleaned out, for the ugly sports cup the mantelpiece gets cleared from the carefully chosen decoration – nothing of the male success can be overlooked. A woman loses an inch around the waist, wearing the new dress – she has to draw a banner across the room saying: ‘1 inch, new dress’; the kids do well at school, they get the praise not mum for spending hours on end doing homework with them; the new pie recipe goes unnoticed because it’s just another dinner; and when she comes out on top against her girlfriends, then she is right to be bit pissed off when there is nobody to put her on the pedestal which she deserves.

Women need to know!

This relates to the earlier mentioned male bullshitting skill. Men can easily, let’s call it: stretch some facts - and can get away with it - with males. This is their way of testing the cognitive capabilities of their competitors. Women always seem to fall short of those cognitive capability because they are not trained to succeed in that sort of test. They have a hunch that something might not be quite correct but they want to get their facts right before they answer and hence they miss their slot while guys just fire back with bullshit. Like in sex it seems that for men it is a lot about timing while for women it’s more about quality. To ensure quality in every aspect of her life a women needs to know what makes her counterpart tick at a very early stage of contact, best even before contact. Hence they will collect information wherever they can in order to have all the pieces of the puzzle in place when needed, and thus women are called nosey.

Women assume!

If they lack knowledge women assume. They are masters in the game: ‘Find the missing piece‘, and their deduction skills are nothing short of a CSI. So guys: be very careful if you are thinking about cheating: this skill and all of the above will blow your cover, in this game you are going to lose.

However, as importantly, they are assuming that everybody else is assuming, too. This is when a great skill can horribly backfire.

For example: Women show affection by doing something nice for someone, like preparing the favourite dinner, make sure that there is always beer in the house, or having that favourite shirt always ironed. This is concept lost on a male brain. They usually show affection at the beginning of the relationship and that has to be enough for the rest of life. Telling the secretary the date of the anniversary so they will get reminded in time, already is quite something. They did commit themselves, didn’t they? What else do we want from them?

Since women can’t accept that, we try to train them to do nice little things to show their love. For example we make them bring the rubbish out by asking: ‘Darling, could you please do me the favour and bring the rubbish out.’

See, they don’t get what we mean by ‘favour’, for them it’s a set phrase and they think that a household task needs to be done – no hidden meaning for them. Now! Woman assumes that he caught her drift and when the rubbish is flowing over again he might pick up on it, taking it out to ‘do her the favour’ hence showing his love… and of course he won’t, he doesn’t have a clue. Over time women assumes that he doesn’t love her anymore since he won’t even do such a tiny thing for her. How is she then to expect something bigger, and wasn’t he staying longer at work last week, and he is always with his mates and never with her… boiling in her own broth and losing perspective she assumes that her marriage is over.

Women have elephant brains!

The tiniest suspicion will sit in a secret organ that science hasn't discover yet and will survive forever. And there is a miraculous sorting mechanism. Even over a long period of time she will know whether or not events are related and she will gather the information. However, this will not go on forever: once in a while steam needs to be let off. This either happens on a monthly cycle when thresholds are weakened, or when the reservoir is full. In this case conversations usually open with phrases which have no answer, like: 'What are you thinking?' Nothing, of course! One can assume - see above - that between tasks men rarely think. So this is always a good starting point to light the fuse.


It only needs small things to make a woman happy. However, DO! Don't buy, at least not at the beginning, and don’t make too big gestures unless you have built up to it over time! You don’t want to make her suspicious, do you? Remember the CSI thing…once you are under suspicion you are doomed!

Phrases like: ‘I thought you’ve been very busy lately so I did…fold socks, take rubbish out, sort the newspaper pile…’ will shoot her over the moon. Well, it does help to actually do it.

And you may want to pick up on her cycle in order to know when this magic is definitely in order. But please! Never mention, or you risk instant explosion.

And for the rest of it: Make her laugh once in a while!


Location, Location, Location


I think I am going colour blind! Green, that is.

We all know these urban people, having lived in their city homes all their lives, nature only gets as close as a safari trip to the latest 'in resort' watching the odd giraffe while sitting on their lodge deck sipping wine, and local wildlife for them are the sad flies which manage to hitch a ride into the aircon maintained apartments by clinging to the Prada coat.

They are said to feel the urge to move to the countryside when they reach a certain age. Apparently they are starting to long for some fresh air and some greeneries and the posh country estate, of course.

See I am on the trip the other way round!

Not that I am after Prada coats now, especially not the ones which invite flies to hitch a ride on. No, it’s my escape route that goes the other way round. I might even see a few moving in while I move out.

I was a country girl all my life. I grew up in the middle of the German nowhere, and I loved it. Then I moved to a city apartment – small, and city; and I hated it. I moved into another city apartment – bigger, but still city; and I still hated it.

I moved to England to live in suburbia. Oh, I loved that! Eventually close enough to the countryside and sort of tiptoeing back into it.

And now today my eye-opener which left me green blinded. I was out and about to scout for locations. The photo shoot which is supposed to catapult me to the top of the ‘old, but still looking good’ pedestal is upon me next week and locations were still to be determined.

To my delight the photographer had suggested some rural beachy areas not far from my home, so off I went, armed with my printed Google map research to check things out.

Oh my goodness… Hardly ever have I seen so much green countryside in one place! I now know why we are the laughing stock of the country. In spring it might be still alright with flowers brightening up the space, but in July all one can do it to dive from one green into the next. My last nights dream was haunted by ‘Public Footpath’ and ‘Bridleway’ signs fighting over their rights to stay put.

I saw a lady wearing wellies and a funny hat clamping an empty compost bag to scavenge the freshly cut hedges for ‘material’. Must be some crafts project. THAT would have been me a couple of years ago. Now the site of it made me cringe a bit.

One thing is for sure, I might never be an inner city girl, but the countryside witch is gone as well. Living in the countryside – or in the city for that matter - is so restricted. Country life gives no reason to dress up for miles on end, so the wardrobe wouldn’t even yield a garment to do so, while city appartments are too expensive to waste space for storing wellies and Drover coat, so if the urge for some fresh air would occur one instantly would be stuck in dirt with the heels.

Turns out: My perfect location is suburbia. I need a bit of fresh air but with city proximity. And I always thought that one can take a girl out of the countryside, but not the countryside out of the girl.

Where did I hear that one before?

Oh, I remember now, I heard the ‘other way round’ version: You can take a girl out of the city but not the city out of a girl!

Maybe I’m just watching too much Sex and the City…


Going Cat Bonkers

Who on earth has broadcast this myth about cats being independent and easy to keep? I'm sure this person never had a cat - let alone two - let alone two which hate each other - well: One hates, the other one fears!

I was so delighted when sweet, little old Vinny recovered from a weird illness that had kept him in a kind of depression for more than a year. He started going out at night and big bully Moritz had is strolls during the day, what made sense since at night things are calm, no noisy kids jumping around, or bikes whizzing by. Vinny enjoyed is tranquil walks and then he became talkative.

The range of sounds cats do to greet or demand are pretty amazing - and annoying when they are brought to my ear in the middle of the night, just to announce that one is back now, will have a bit of food and that it would be just lovely to have a bit of company for that - and probably a cuddle, because it naps so much better when after food there is a cuddle...

I thought that would be as bad as it gets and given that cat was a happy cat again human owner doesn't mind to suffer.

Well, I can now confirm: It can get worse! Vinny made friends with boisterous Bimmel who was featured here earlier and from him he gained the confidence to go out during the day. Idiotic owner I am I appreciated this new skill: Sunshine is good and healthy, isn't it? However, with Moritz locked away for even more hours he had to get something back - and the one thing he is very interested in is Vinny's territory. So he was allowed upstairs while the little black devil had a nap in the garden.

All this implicates a sophisticated change over routine. It works like an elaborate system of floodgates. Doors, windows and catflap have to be opened and closed in the right order or disaster is looming in form of a screaming fur ball of eight clawed legs and two heads which would make lions proud.

However sophisticated, I didn't really think it through, though! Today the weather was not as pristine as the day before so I was glued to my computer with Moritz happily dosing next to me when I heard moaning noises from the patio: Vinny howling like a wolf!

After feeding and a lot of negotiation regarding possible napping places it turned out: The little buggar was bored!

It is not enough that he is in the place he likes most in a particular moment in time, he likes to be with company; and he is so persistent, showing his most reproachful face, that owner complies, ushering Moritz downstairs and setting the open/close/upstairs/downstairs game into gear for the correct fight save door settings... only to discover that Vinny had slipped out with me again when I got some stuff from fridge in the garage where he found himself a piece of carpet to nap on. Apparently new beds are much more important than company.

So now the garage has to stay open, doors and windows in the house are locked tight what I think might be the wrong setting, I believe Moritz is downstairs but I'm not entirely sure and ... I definitely need more coffee!

How To Be Funny

I always wondered what it is that makes things funny. If one would know it would be so much easier to actually be funny.

Recently I eventually got a hint. Nury had published a column about Twitter heavily disliking it. That is fair enough, I know a lot of people not liking it. It’s either just not their thing or they don’t get the concept and hence not knowing how to use it properly.

Of course he got a lot of comments hitting the head of the same nail, and of course I couldn’t help but give my own two pence. I was rather serious and tried to tease Nury a bit to tickle a response out of this funny little community… - and not a single one picked up on it. They all were all rather self indulging in their own ideas of why Twitter should be considered rubbish and creating new imaginary tweet-lines supposedly showing the irrelevance of posts.

And that was when it occurred to me: Things are funny when they are rubbish or go wrong.

This is 'cute' - but not funny!

... ate them all, and it was gooood!

The biggest cat ever on the bird table is - funny!

And NO! He didn't eat the birds, the birds were fed with cat food and he stole it from them.


... a friend just skyped:

"I nearly fell off the bike yesterday - I breathed in a fly and then choked on it and made the bike wobble."

The poor thing! But this is somewhat funny, isn't it?

In regard to Twitter there are all sorts of funny scenarios imaginable if Twitter is considered rubbish. Me insisting in liking it makes me nothing but a geek, and geeks are boring.

So, what else can I do to be funny? Well, I could do more movies. I am pretty rubbish at that, and people seem to like it. I could go shopping more often; that opens up to topics like overspending, buying the wrong things and getting in a fight with the shop attendant.

I really admire people who open their mouths and something funny comes out. Sometimes I don’t see the wit although it is sitting right there on my nose.

Is that old age? Is it the fact that before I hook into my grave I eventually would like to be successful in something? Oh THAT is something I should bank on. I could easily be the queen of un-successful and according to the rules that is supposed to be funny. My life under the funny-meter:

School life - Rather successful, hence not funny at all.

University years - utterly funny, all 15 of them. Beginning with chemistry studies without really knowing what a chemist does and breaking up after three semesters, liking the idea of becoming an architect but being horribly scared of the amount of maths involved and eventually studying computer science without really knowing what a computer scientist does and with an even bigger amount of maths involved... and I didn’t even mention all the little interludes screaming for laughter.

What was I thinking?

Well, without all that I wouldn’t be the person I am these days, and … – see, there the ‘being funny’ thing goes down the drain again – … I quite like the person I am. Luckily there are still a few bits and pieces I’d like to change like the size of my legs and the volume of my voice… so, there is hope for future drollery.

Three Cheers to USG

Utter Summer Gorgeousness

A good week ago I received a Tweet: I need to get off the drug! Are you with me sister?

Who can resist such a cry for companionship? Of course I was in!

Less is more is never more true than in respect to chocolates and sweets. Be honest! Be really, really honest! No need to voice it, just answer for yourselves: I am claiming that only the first bite tastes really fantastically good! After that it is the wish to recreate the experience of this very first bite. One might be settling for the silky texture of the chocolate, the crunchiness of the biscuit, or its buttery smell, but the lift your closed eyes to the sky and feel the saliva kick in of this first bite just won’t happen anymore… and by the time one realises the whole pack is gone. That is when addiction takes the place of indulgence.

So a sister needed help to go cold turkey. I already have quit several times hence I am experienced. I know what the sugar does to me! Not just the weight gain, I could live with that - to an extent – no, the grumpiness when I under-sugar and the constant focus on having enough of my drug close by. I needed help myself!

Off we went into our first week, which is over now and on meeting in the gym one could tell that it started to work. Better shape, better spirit, better performance!

We are now entering the snooty stage. Of course I only can talk for myself and actually I shouldn’t as it throws a rather bad light on my ways of thinking. The snooty stage is that feeling of being so much better than all those wimps out there. It however is a very important phase; one is still very vulnerable, and putting oneself on a pedestal makes one not just look down on the others, but as well onto the sad self one has been just that one week earlier.

Thus instead of feeling bad about the unseemly thoughts, one should rather embrace them as an important stage of stabilisation.

Now, we are twittering our support in just 140 characters per post. This restricted one tends to come up with weird ways of phrasing and at one point the toast to ‘utter summer gorgeousness’ USG was coined.

I like that toast! I always wanted to have MY legs – maybe this summer is the summer I get them!?! … and all of a sudden I realised: USG is not about these silly sweets and weight loss, it’s about things that make us feel good, really feel good. If it is chocolates for you – Yes! Have them! But be sure that it is what you actually want.

This afternoon I had the house for myself and I should have been working for IL but my mind went blank. I sneaked into my armchair with my hand grooming set and shoved ‘Sex And The City the Movie’ into the player for some cosy ‘Me-time’. Yes! I definitely do want to have those legs! And I love eating fried chicken straight out of the pan, and I love to sing although I’m not good at it, and NO! I don’t even particularly like chocolate, just - sometimes I forget that!

USG is not about looks, it is all about how we feel and what we really, really like doing to get that feeling. Sometimes all it needs is a bit of sunshine and to listen to our dreams!

PS: This is how the Sugar Experiment came to happen


To Lent or Not To Lent!

I don’t understand Lent!

Well, I understand that it is originated in the religious believe systems. I understand that it made sense in the old days when food became scarce at the end of winter, when some resourcefulness was important for survival since nobody could know if the winter would be a long one and when the next fresh food would be available. I understand that it was adopted by modern Zeitgeist people and I know what one is supposed to do during lent, but I still don’t understand why I should do it.

What good would it do me to give something up for 40 days?

If I were to give up something that is not good for me like smoking or promiscuity – what’s the point of giving it up for 40 days? I should give it up for good, shouldn’t I? Or, one could do some travelling during lent to compensate for the losses and stock up on duty free cigarettes and make some contacts for the time after…

If it is something fun to give up, like chocolate or promiscuity – why would I want to deprive myself of something nice for 40 days? Why should I make myself miserable for one tenth of the year? Be assured, you don’t want to be around me when I am miserable; nothing good can come out of that.

Let’s take chocolate! Lent time is the ONE time of the year which only can be survived on a chocolate based diet. For the rest of the year I don’t need chocolate, but during this period of time it is an essential asset for survival.

One is fed up with winter, the sun may be shining once in a while, but as soon as one is cheated out of the house by the prospect of some warmth, it’s still freezing cold and windy out there. So we may decide to get fit for summer and start running, keeps one warm in the cold morning mist. A silly treatment for a body only just crawling out of hibernation; chocolate is the only food that can refuel the energy deprived floppy self, and deliver comfort for the underperforming soul. So for the good of my fellow people: giving up chocolate is not an option.

For the rest of it: I don’t smoke anyway, any other food that is fun I have given up already, can’t give up the computer, because that would deprive you of my wonderful articles – can’t let that happen! So the last of my fun resorts is: The telly.

Since I am a bit of an addict this could be an idea. However, I cannot advertise this option.

Have you ever had a look on how the good shows are distributed throughout the year? In summer, when people are holidays and are out and about in nature they are not watching the telly. And hence there are no new productions done for that period which is almost three month long. Since this is a bit of a dry season anyway: Why can’t I take my Lent then?

Then there is the Christmas season which starts some time in October, thus basically right after the summer holidays. That’s when only really cosy things are on and all the old stuff gets repeated, so no new productions done for this time either.

This is two thirds of the year gone by crappy TV. Eventually in spring right in time for Lent is a slot available where people have the time to watch all these wonderful nature documentaries like ‘Yellowstone’ and ‘Natures Great Events’. Can’t let those slip through, not with the new HD screen we now have. And then there are great shows like The Sex Education Show or ‘Grow Your Own Drugs’ from which I got the lovely chicken soup recipe. I can’t let my health go down the drain by missing out on valuable information like that!

And on top of it all: If all of a sudden we would not watch telly anymore during the only entertaining time of the year, we would bring the whole TV business to it’s knees and causing massive job losses in the entertainment industry. We can’t let that happen, especially not in these credit crunch times.

So I have been browsing websites to get inspired for what else I could give up. I found that there is one thing high up on the ranking lists: It’s Porn!

Oh well, I am having my silver anniversary this year: Feel free to take a good guess whether there is more or less porn needed in my life.

So, you tell me what Lent is good for!