Home in your dreams

This one came to me when Sara Amundson tweeted a pre-flash-fiction-reading selfie of her at home, stating that was “where the Murdercorn wig lives”.

It, quite obviously, can be sung ((more or less)) to the tune of Home on the Range

Oh, give me a home where the Murdercorn roam
And the gore and the entrails, they spray
Where often is heard a bloodcurdling word
And the children cry out in dismay.


Chorus:

Hunt, hunt in your dreams
Where the gore and the entrails, they spray
Where often is heard a bloodcurdling word
And the children cry out in dismay.

The peace it was pressed from the place you get rest
It’s not likely it’ll ever return
To the dreams in your slumber where monsters now lumber
And everything to nightmares they turn.

Chorus
But don’t be afraid, someone comes to your aid
To put an end to the monsters you dream
They hunt the jabberwock all around the clock
To make sure the human race is safe.

Chorus

My brain works in mysterious ways.

What is that all about?

Well, Sara Amundson, the original Murdercorn and mother of monsters ((whom you should totally follow on twitter)) is working on publishing her Urban Fantasy trilogy Dreamer.
It’s all about monsters coming alive from nightmares. Some of those exist as flash fiction ((and you can totally request your own. I got one!)) and some even as video readings.

You know the mother of dragons:

 

where are my dragons

But do you know the mother of monsters?

where are my monsters

The Next Generation music (bad pun intended)

What if Status Quo had rocked the mid-2nd millenium instead of…ya know?

A paid vacation on an asteroid
Captain Kirk flies into the void
You’re in the starfleet now
Oh, oh you’re in the starfleet, now

Now you remember what the draft man said
Don’t wear a red shirt or you are dead
You’re in the starfleet now
Oh, oh you’re in the starfleet, now

You’ll be a hero of the whole quadrant
A five year patrol is all you want
You’re in the starfleet now
Oh, oh you’re in the starfleet, now

Alien faces as you wait to land
But once you get there no one gives a damn
You’re in the starfleet now
Oh, oh you’re in the starfleet, now

Photo torpedo flying over your head

Phaser beam flying over your head
If you want to survive beam out of bed
You’re in the starfleet now
Oh, oh you’re in the starfleet, now

Exploding console in the dead of night
The ensign calls : “Stand up and fight!”
You’re in the starfleet now
Oh, oh you’re in the starfleet, now

You’ve got your phasers set to kill
Your finger’s on the LCARS but you’re not sure you will
You’re in the starfleet now
Oh, oh you’re in the starfleet, now

Light’s are failing and the ship’s a wreck
Is this illusion or a holodeck?
You’re in the starfleet now
Oh, oh you’re in the starfleet, now

 

Or maybe the Village People?

Where can you find pleasure
Search the ‘verse for treasure
Learn science technology…

Uh. I think that one already IS all about starfleet.

 

Longing for whales

One of the many interests I’ve pretty much always had is whales. I’ve read a German translation of Moby Dick as a preteen, saw the Gregory Peck movie around the same time.

I vaguely remember seeing a dolphin show at an amusement park when I was a kid, I’ve always liked aquariums and it’s difficult to get me away from penguins, seals or walruses at zoos, especially when they’re active. Or sharks. Or whatever.

So whenever I had the opportunity to go to an aquarium, I went. Denmark, UK, New Zealand, Virginia Beach, etc.

But even befor that, whales were special. I had non-fiction books on whales, I watched the occasional documentary or movie if it just involved whales. I think that’s part of the reason why Star Trek IV is one of my favorite Star Trek movies.

I don’t think I ever thought I’d actually see real, big whales out in the wild. They’re not exactly commonplace in Germany or wherever I’d been in the first 20 years of my life, but then I got invited to visit a friend in Seattle in 2006. I’d already had my flights book when we had to cancel the whole thing due to him becoming a father for the first time. Would’ve been awkard because the day I’d arrived was the actual birth day of his daughter. Or within a few days at least.

Needless to say, while happy for him I was angry at the fate and the world, because one of the things we might’ve done while I was there: Go watch Orcas. Actual black and white beautiful whales in the wild. Even if only from far, that would’ve made my decade.
So I sulked around and talked to a friend on instant messenger who tried to console me and told me to find another trip somewhere beautiful. Googled a bit and said “How about Iceland? Iceland has whales!”
So I booked a trip to Iceland and reserved a seat on a whale watching tour on one of the days with nothing else planned. I was giddy with excitement, right up until the moment the telephone in my hotel room rang and the receptionist told me the trip had been called off due to bad weather.

Iceland was absolutely gorgeous, though.

iceland_493

The next time I even considered the possibility of seeing whales was on my trip to New Zealand in 2013. Unfortunately we didn’t find any whale watching opportunities on our North Island round trip, and we didn’t catch any whales on the week on Norfolk Island afterwards.

What consoled me a little was the fact that we saw a school of dolphins on the boat rip to White Island. Seeing those beautiful creatures swim, jump and frolic all around as felt magical.

 

southpac_0381

southpac_0385

And my first time snorkeling (Emily Bay, Norfolk Island) also made for an awesome experience and nice pictures.

IMGP0177

 

Right now I’m working on my next attempt at seeing whales in the wild, planning for my trip to the US west coast followed by 5 days on Maui. Hopefully catching a whale or three in my lens and finally having that experience.

 

Well, maybe not that trippy, even though that’d be might cool.

Olli’s Saturday School – Pronouncing C, K, CH and SCH

Credit for the following lesson should go to Brianna because well, a rather randomly starting conversation about cookies and cables during the final hour or so of my work day prompted it. In fact, I’ll mostly be paraphrasing the conversation.

Stop judging me, it was a Friday it was quiet and I was bored.

So, cookies and cables. Or Kekse and Kabel as we say in German. Pretty close etymologically, eh?

Oh, cookies and cables isn’t a German figure of speech, by the way. It was a conversation that started out REALLY randomly.

It led to the remark that German words usually don’t start with the combination C + vowel.
We turned Canada to Kanada, cow to Kuh and karma to Karma. Oh, wait…

The only exceptions that I can think of are names. While Kathrin, Katharina and Karina are common in Germany, a some actually go for Cathrin, Catharina and most commonly Carina. What we don’t usually do is Karmen. We kept that at Carmen. Which is kinda weird, because some people actually call their kids Aleksandra instead of Alexandra.

If we start words with a c, usually an h and r follow. As for names, Kristin, Kristine, Kristina are common enough, but less than Christin(a/e). Interestingly enough there’s also Christian, but way fewer Kristians.
Outside of names, words starting with chr in English usually do so in German if they have the same stem. The German word for chronicle is Chronik, etc.

As to pronunciation, all those are pronounced the same. In the beginning. It’s the common K-sound.

Cutting to the cheese ((what a great segue)), I uh…don’t know how to continue here. We don’t have ch as a tch sound, we’d actually have to put a t there. But the German word for cheese is not Tschäse ((which doesn’t mean anything)), it’s Käse. With a fancy Ümläüt ((Umlaut is how it’s actually spelled.)).

The German ch in the middle or at the end of words is more interesting. There’s two ways of pronouncing it.

One of them is the throaty rattle that you might now from Scottish place names. The ending of Loch in for example Loch Ness. If that doesn’t ring a bell, another use for that sound is the Klingon ‘H’ .  I actually found a neat description of it.

The ‘H’ in Klingon is a raspy English ‘h’, or like the end sound of the composer Bach, or the Hebrew word l’chaim.
– as Scots loch or the musical composer Bach. Lift the back of your tongue and then force a puff of air out of your throat.

The other one is similar to the English sh sound but not quite. Try saying it but pulling the corner of your mouth apart so it almost turns into a …well… hiss. Keep the tip of your tongue at the bottom of your mouth: chhhhhhh!

The other sh as in fish or shit is the German sch. As in Fisch or Scheiße.

Our word for school, Schule is pronounced schoolay ((with a very short ay)).

This can lead to some confusion with little kids and certain dialects where those two sh-versions of ch are slurred and both pronounced like the shit one.

Consider the two words Kirche (church) and Kirsche (cherry).

I hope you didn’t break your tongue or throat trying all these.

 

I’m no van Gogh – starry night photography

I’m really not. I can’t paint or draw myself out of a paper bag to save my life.

I do like taking pictures and I’m decent at both the technical aspects as well as at least instinctively getting composition and lighting stuff right. Mostly.

A few days ago I managed to try something I’ve been wanting to do for ages but somehow never did.
I wanted to take pictures of a starry night sky. Trouble is, where I live ((Germany. Central Europe)) light pollution doesn’t make it easy. I don’t have New York City levels of light around, but I’m also not exactly in the middle of the Outback.

Being close to the 6W/50N intersection, a little to the south east of it in a red clump, mostly when we look up and see ANY stars we see maybe a dozen or so.

I’m looking forward to get a few chances in my 2015 vaction, but I couldn’t wait this long. So I did some research, grabbed my tripod, went out and took a bunch of pictures, which I tried to enhance a little afterwards. Not all of them, though. Turns out, it’s near pointless depending on the source material.

Check list for taking pretty pictures of a starry night
– go to NYC, Museum of Modern Arts.  ((Kidding. That’s where the painting is))
– tripod. A small one will do, just make sure it’s something that allows pointing the camera upwards
– flashlight (possibly a hands free one you can wear on your head)
– camera, preferably a DSLR with a wide angle lens with a good lens speed
– cable/remote trigger for minimal vibrations

Timing
– make sure there are no clouds in the sky. early fall or most of winter is often pretty good for that, except coooold
– try to find out when the astronomical sunset for your current location and time is. it might be quite a while after sunset and means the sun is far enough below the horizon to avoid interference
– moonless nights work best. Obviously. Maybe just go after moonset?

For me, last weekend astronomical sunset was at around 9PM. Moon didn’t set until about 2AM though, so I had to work around that by ways of location

Location
If  you want nothing but stars, just find a space where you can point your camera upwards
If you want to experiment with scenery, try the coast of a sea or lake. Or maybe an elevated position so you can look into a valley.
Most important: If you can’t go out after moonset, try to find a place that allows you to point your camera AWAY from the moon. In the opposite direction, prerefably. Otherwise moonlight will bleed into your picture, even if it’s not in the frame. I was pretty surprised how much that affected my shots.

Camera settings
You’ll have to play a little with those depending on the desired effect, but to avoid noise try a relatively low ISO setting first. But do experiment.
I had the best results with:
– ISO-1000 to 1600
– exposure time between 15 and 30 seconds
– aperture value as low as possible (wide open)

I currently don’t have a remote trigger for my camera so I made sure to set it to a time delayed release of 2 seconds. If you use a DSLR, using mirrow lockup will also help to reduce vibrations a lot.

And that’s pretty much it. Fire away, share your results. Here are some of mine!

stars 024

stars 022

stars 020

stars 044

stars 026

 

The full set is available here!

 

Sconehenge – monumentally baking

Quite a while ago I complimented Jessa Lynch on her twitter handle @chichenpizza.

What can I say? I do like my puns.

The reply I got was It was either that or Sconehenge.

It’s been a while, but it set things in motion that I couldn’t have stopped if I wanted. Granted, it took a while, but finally, I managed to pull myself and the ingredients together and start baking.

roadtrip_2013 133

In case you’re interested:

225 grams of flour, a tablespoon of baking powder, a pinch of salt, some cayenne pepper, a spoon of mustard, 150ml of milk, 100 grams of grated cheese and 60 grams of butter to make a few snacks, double that for actual Sconehenge.

 

 

GISHWHES – The SquirreliPug Bunch

*** SCROLL ALL THE WAY DOWN FOR THE MOST RECENT UPDATES ***

 

Just in case you live in a hole under a rock or simply didn’t know, there has been something called GISHWHES a short while ago. Short form: A global internet scavenger hunt where teams of 15 are tasked with performing tasks ((and providing proof)) ranging from silly via charitable to borderline insane and impossible. You’re probably not surprised that I was delighted when I was invited onto Alicia‘s team, the Squirrelicorns. She didn’t get a full 15 people team together, so we got paired off with another team called DrachenPug, forming the combined power of SquirrelicornLovesDrachenPug or short SquirreliPug. Emails started bouncing around and we soon found a way to organize and divvy up items between us, and maybe some friendships might have started in this rag-tag band of internet adventurers ranging from California via Texas and various parts of the US east coast over to me in Germany.

Long story short, GISHWHES is over and I have been tasked/have tasked myself to publish most of the glory that is SquirreliPug on my blog so we can preserve it for our grandchildren ((and everyone else)) to point and laugh.

Here goes, in no special order, and please forgive me if I left a few out because I somehow couldn’t remember what they were for and HEY THERE IS 180 OR SO ITEMS AND WE TOTALLY DID HALF OF THEM!
I did however include all the exceptionally silly ones!

Which is faster: a baby learning to crawl or a turtle? Let’s see a race.
httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0qcuRJlfiBE

Caitlin, I bet your kids ((they were yours, right?)) will be really grateful one day. If they ever forgive you.

Get everyone on a subway, bus or train car to sing”Over the River & Through the Woods.” There must be at least 8passengers & it must not be staged (i.e. this must be a random collectionof commuters, not your friends)

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xmlm9DjQmtE

Alicia, I am deeply humbled and impressed.

Create a “novel” life form
httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ckbUJQXozEY

 

Cavemen get a bad rap, but really, they’re nodifferent from you & me. They like to dine at fine restaurants just like us From what I heard it was quite a task to get Brett, Alicia’s husband, WHO WAS ON OUR TEAM to take her out to dinner. Can’t imagine why.

Here’s a behind the scenes pic, btw!

Fograt, Wooster, Elopus or Marge Simpson tummy-art. The “tummy” canvas in question must be that of a woman who is at least 7 months pregnant

This one took artsy skills AND a 7+ months pregnant woman somewhere in the submitters entourage. Alicia had some of that. ;-) I hope that goes in the baby pictures album of the soon-to-be mom.

Provide visual evidence that unicorns really dofart rainbows. No photoshopping!

Alicia strikes again, in a somewhat cryptozoological way.

Not to throw around big words, but “Hirsute” means”goat-like or hairy.” Shave a recognizable corporate logo onto ahirsute man’s back or chest hair. Bonus points if the man is holding a productemblazoned with the same logo.

We can thank Brett for this one, even though it’s not his actual back.

It‘s “me time.” Spoil, pamper & be decadent to yourself like you never have before. Oh, & P.S., you’re dressedas a Stormtrooper.

Now THAT is Brett. Really.

For my one of my submissions I had to create a timelapse video of me completing a 50+ piece puzzle. Wearing wool gloves.
httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WWPhtT_vNNU

Another one was getting a previously published writer to write a story containing Misha Collins, the Queen of England and an Elopus. All of that in 140 words or less. That one cause a bit of trouble but I was lucky enough to be successful. So here’s the story. I’m omitting the author’s name on purpose because I don’t want to stir up any inconvenience for them, but rest assured I am allowed to share it here and you will face all of the wrath I can muster from anyone I can find if you steal it.

“Who will destroy this beast for me?”
None of the Queen’s brave knights volunteered. Several quivered in their boots.
“Hey,” a voice rang out from the hall. The Queen squinted. She saw a strange man she did not recognize had stood up. “I’ll do it, for ten mil if I succeed.”
The Queen growled, but consented. She had no choice.
Misha strode boldly down to where the Elopus was busy munching on his newest meal – one of Buckingham Palace’s guards.
“Hello, Elopus.”
“Hello, Misha.”
“Ready to cash in?”
Misha led the Elopus by his trunk back through the palace to where the Queen waited. When she saw the Elopus, tamed, she bowed low before Misha.
“You have saved England.”
“Great. Can I get my cash?”
Outside, Misha stuffed a wad of cash into his best friend’s tentacles.
“Let’s try Monaco next.”

 New Yorker Cartoon with the caption “I told them he was half-elephant!”

Marla created this beautiful thing.

They made us set up a “Hot Pasta and Jam Sauce stand” because everyone sells lemonade.

Sara had just the right crew for that. And at $7.95 it’s a steal!

A portrait of Jean-Luc Picard in condiments. I’m not sure if this is the actual picture submitted, somewhere there’s one including the bottles of stuff used.

Boy, if Sara cooks like she paints with ketchup and chocolate sauce, I’ll fly over the ocean and invite myself to dinner at her place. But don’t tell her.

Create a rock album cover containing one or more of your team members.

Marla totally rocked this one. TOTALLY. And it’s not only her legs, also her photography. ;-)

One of the items required hairy toes and Supernatural nail art.

This one was kind of a collaboration between Sara and Brett. I’m not saying that those are Brett’s toes, but his wife giggled a lot on that day and I doubt Sara’s feet are THAT hairy.
Just sayin’.

Here’s Sara and I think Alicia and Brett getting Starbucks with a silly name! Woo!
httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7c9_jIFznwc
Jumping the shark
httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DekpQbM_H1E
Sara, those kids rock!

Pressure wash something you really shouldn’t.
httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9iuUz2RtQBg
Sara, you really shouldn’t have. But thank’s you did!

PSA about our new jellyfish overlords.
httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ddybgxc0Cmo
Marla, with the help of her husband, gave us this bit of important community service. Don’t forget to turn on the captions in the youtube settings for that one!

Create a Rube Goldberg machine that includes”Eye of the Tiger”, an image of John Travolta, a toilet plunger,& acorns, among other things.  ((a Rube Goldberg machine is something overly complicated that performs a simple task. Think Back to the Future alarm clock, also that does not quite hit the spot))
httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CWj9DsQDAv4
Lucky for the SuirreliPugs we had Sue on board, our very own Chief Engineer

She also was responsible for shooting a vase off a fence post using a potato canon. Not a potato gun. Wonder if the typo was deliberate? Us too.
httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4hB8TcdeJVw

Make a mosaic Elopus, 2 meters in diameter, made entirely of natural objects (i.e. no plastic, human-made materials, only leaves, rocks, dirt, flowers, wood, etc). 

Our engineer Sue proved to be quite versatile, she really did.

She was also kinda gansta, when it came to stenciling D2N with a backwards 2 on some factory or industrial stuff.

As with all great engineers, LEGO played a huge part in her career. It even took over her kitchen during the frenzy that was GISHWHES.

Next up, Cairn, who created an Angel out of feminine hygiene products, a tribute to the inventor of rubber gloves, sang Dust in the Wind in a duststorm AND shouted/sang Eye of the Tiger through a megaphone at her neighbor, trashed her step daughters doll house with a sledge hammer, ordered a diet water in an invisible car in a drive-through and swept a neighbors porch. I hope I didn’t forget anything. Talk about versatile!

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dSaAM1AurXA
httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YCGdVBDuLFA
httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tr9lmuRm4RE
httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vk3pgBdCDfE
httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SPdg7ijEBc8

And, because we didn’t have enough videos yet ((are you sick of them? Sucks to be you)), let’s go on!

The next few submissions are from Sarah, not Sara.

Here she converted her bike into a spaceship and accelerated to warp speed. To infinity and beyond!
httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jgq3P8hF8C8

An educational popup-book about the day the Croatoan virus struck
httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dBcARFLPN08

She edited footage of those two icons into a heart-rending, Oscar-worthy love story.
httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=znZ4l7XKP0I

And this is her, too.
httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ssDmdPtVsHM

Caitlin had a couple of people play Carry On My Wayward Son on acorns. ACORNS, man!
httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CEWmbBbsVTc

She also won the Game of Thrones.

The actual task was “You or your pet, in period costume, seated on a Game of Thrones-style kale throne. Make it so good that GOT producers would want it as a marketing poster”. Maybe not quite literal, but I’d pledge my allegiance in an instant.

 You and your four friends are a five-headed monster with all of your heads poking out of one collar of a giant shirt. Now do yard work.

A newspaper boat regatta in a public fountain with competetive and gambling onlookers. Shame the current drowned the boats, though.

Behold our take on trickle down economics!

Or maybe a fancy dress made out of whatever is found in your bathroom? Toilet paper high heels.

For those of you who still don’t know what an Elopus is, we had to get barrista art of one anyway, so check this baby out:

Look! It’s Christina! And she’s nesting!

That was after she mowed her lawn in Geisha set-up, fed her demons and sucked the blood out of a donut, mind you.

I found another one by Sarah. She inflicted herself with spiderbites in the ass and clothes pin polka dots pretty much all-over.

Sara now, SHE created a new piece of furniture and demonstrated its use.

 

And with this, the SquirreliPug Bunch says good bye for now. I’ll maybe update this if more of our awesome exploits surface. Maybe. There’s so much more awesome in our secret hiding place, but I’m not sure I’m allowed to share it, and it’s maybe too much to just dump it on the blog anyway.

Here’s the story of a lovely lady
Who was inviting some Squirrelicorns
All of them had silly minds, crazy ideas
The youngest one a teenager

Here’s the story of the DrachenPug team
Who was buzzing with creativity
They were a bunch of internet crazies
Yet not enough for a full team

Till the one day when they were thrown together
And they knew it was much more than a hunch
That this group must somehow form a new team
That’s the way we all became the SquirreliPug Bunch.

And now we play the waiting game until we can all be disappointed together that we don’t get to travel to Croatia.

KIDDING! It was one of the most awesome things I ever was a part of, and I am immensely glad I met all of you!

*** HERE BE UPDATES ***

August 16th, Marla provided me with a few more of her submissions.

She caught the Blue-Footed Munotaur ((No, I have no idea what it is)) on camera!

After that, because she’s badass, she strongarmed ((literally. ACTUALLY LITERALLY)) a movie theater employee into letting her watch a movie for free.

 

But badass alone was not going to cut it for GISHWHES! She’s also crafty!

Avian real estate prices are going to skyrocket in Georgia this year.

 

the soapy taste of joy

I have a slightly soapy taste in my mouth.

 

But I’d better start from the beginning. I had a pretty crappy Monday and was somewhere between bored, annoyed and frustrated due to job-related things ((don’t worry, all is well, it just was a Monday)) when saw a tweet from @meganpaasch.

A new blog!

Since she’d been wondering aloud ((atweet?)) whether she actually should post it, due to its personal nature, I was curious. And I could use the distraction.

The tl;dr ((although you should totally read it, it’s really good)) is, that even on utterly crappy days you will find something good. Maybe it’s something inconsequential, something silly, something utterly out of context, totally useless and all. But it will make you smile and relax a little. You just have to look for it. For Megan, a soap bubble made her think and realize that a few things about HER crappy day had been pretty good.

And you know what else? The forecast tomorrow calls for sun. I think I’ll go outside and blow some bubbles. Maybe one of mine will be carried off on the breeze and go on an adventure like the one I saw today. And maybe it in turn will make someone else’s day. I’d like to think so. Wouldn’t you? – “Bubbles” by Megan Paasch

Well, what can I say…the blog made me smile and think about bubbles myself.
My sister recently celebrated her 30th birthday. There was a 5ish year old girl, daughter to one of her friends, who was immensely entertained by my sister’s boyfriend. He was blowing bubbles.

Back when I was a kid, 10ish years old, when I spent the summer holidays with my cousin’s family in France, we often were on dish-duty. One afternoon, doing the dishes, we used so much soap that we made quite a mess and spent most of the afternoon blowing bubbles with nothing but our fingers. We had one hell of a time.

Cut to the present, later the same afternoon.

Coworker, happily: “I am going to see my niece this weekend, feels like months that I’ve last seen her. I should try and find a little present, maybe something musical!”
Me: “How old is she?”
Coworker: “About two and a half.”
Me: “How about a little soap-bubbles set instead?”
Coworker: “Hey, that’s a neat idea. I should check at the 1-Euro store one of these days.”
Me: “They’re 0.55 Euro each.”
2nd Coworker: “Did you buy one?”
Me: “Two. So if you need one, I’ve got them in the car…”

I didn’t get to blow bubbles that day, the weather was a little grayish.
The day after, though…

The day after ((which technically is yesterday, if the everlasting present is the day this post is going live)) I learned a few things:
– it is pretty hard to take focused pictures of your own soap bubbles
– when the wind is picking up, a bubble might pop or get blown back at you before it leaves the wand. Hence the soapy taste on my lips
– it’s still as fascinating as it was when I was 20-25 years younger

So go make some soapy water and blow bubbles…in the kitchen, on the balcony, in the garden or just somewhere!

Even if it leaves a soapy aftertaste, it’s totally worth it!

English was my favorite subject in school

Today I am somewhere upstate New York, so here’s another prescheduled one. Hope you like it. :-)

English WAS my favorite subject in school. As you probably know by now, even if you just got here, I am German.  Not everyone knows that I have been raised bilingually ((my mother is French. In a way. That’s a story for another day, probably)), German and French.

In my fifth school year I started learning English, and having learned my first foreign language pretty much from day one, the third one came easy to me. I never really had to do anything to pick it up. I just listened, read, did my homework and learned it.

When you learn a language at school in Germany, you start with the usual basics. Telling someone about yourself, describing things and people, one adjective, noun and verb after another.

At some point you get to working with texts, fictional and non-fictional, and barring the occasional grammar lesson, you gradually transition into a sort of literature and culture class that is held in a foreign language. ((in theory)).

Being a natural, I started reading English books for fun when I was around fifteen ((I bought Terry Pratchett’s Hogfather on a class trip to Munich because I didn’t want to wait a year for the translated paperback)).

Shortly after I began working funny stuff into exams, because…well, I don’t know, I just got inspired. One of the exams was about an interview that someone conducted with Aldous Huxley, and we were supposed to pick up how they viewed certain things differently on account of having grown up in different time periods. I had been listening to a lot of Running Wild at the time, so I used their song title “Prisoners Of Our Time” to describe the idea in a more colorful way.

In another exam about how language plays a role in George Orwell’s 1984 I used a joke I knew from one of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels ((the one about the Inuit having 100 words for snow but none of them worth printing)).

The highlight of my English exam shenanigans was one of our last exams, about William Shakespeare’s Hamlet ((see my limerick blog post for additional unrelated entertainment)).

It was our final year in school, we were a small class and our teacher was pretty relaxed and  didn’t pay much attention to us. At one point one of my best friends, Alex, turned around to me and said, proudly: “I just used the word vortex in my essay!”
I replied: “Ha, I can beat that!” and found a way to incorporate maelstrom into mine.

Philipp, sitting behind me, piped up: “What’s this going to be?  A competition?”

We wondered if our teacher would mention it upon returning the exam, but he didn’t. So we actually asked which of the two words puzzled/annoyed him more, and what can I say…it was close, but mine was more horrible!

Thanks to @CareyTorg for reminding me of this episode and inspiring me. Follow her on twitter, read her blog and be nice to her, she’s awesome! Also buy her book in December, ok? Thanks!

hedgehog nation

If you have been follwoing me on twitter for a while, you might have noticed the occasional tweet mentioning hedgehogs. Including the hashtags #HedgehogNation, #HedgehogArmy, #TeamHedgehog or variations of that. In one memorable occasion even #HedgehogPorn.

I didn’t invent any of those.

My personal #HedgehogLife on twitter was sparked by the awesome @CairnRodrigues and her gang of hedgies. ((Cairn is the creator of the Solstice fantasy cycle, starting with The Last Prospector and the Light Stealer Song blog ))

I didn’t chose the hedgehog life, the hedgehog life chose me!

Then this happened:

 

 


So thanks to @LauraLeeSEO who inspired me to think about this some more ((you should totally check out her blog. It contains funny and thoughtful stories about failures small and big. Including a guest blog by me and other awesome people)) , I had THIS commissioned ((because I am not exactly good at things that require manual skills and discipline like drawing and enjoy giving people money to do stuff they do better than I ever could)).

Hedgies of the world unite

 

 

Credit for this goes to the amazing @hananahammock ! ((who you should not only follow on twitter if you like people who are smart, bonkers and funny, but also consider her youtube channel or her patreon site at http://www.patreon.com/hananahammock ))

Spread the hedgehog love, promote the Hedgehog Nation, hedgehug somebody and 

Go team hedgehog!

Those little guys are not only adorable but also stand for everything good in the world:
The love of food ((cheese!)), books, interesting and funny conversations, being kind and awesome to each other and many other things.

Now please rise for the anthem of the great Hedgehog Nation.

O beautiful for green hedgerows,
For brownish heaps of leaves,
For hedgerow and bush majesties
Above the fruited dirt!
Hedgie Nation! Hedgie Nation!
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with hedgehoghood
From bush to shrubbery!