11 September 2020

swinging on a star

Half way through my two week September holiday - and still more to come! A week each in October, November and December. The beauty of German civil service regulations. 

I don't miss a thing, apart from maybe a visit to the seaside. I mostly sit on the patio, R's voice drifting out of his office upstairs, explaining to some (un)fortunate final year student the intricate workings of cell membrane structures, around me the busy noises of the retired neighbours exercising their expensive gardening tools. 

I crawl out of bed every morning in disbelief that this body is actually me. Morning stiffness is a glorious euphemism. This is when dawdling comes in handy. Slow dawdling.

And so I fill my time with pleasant useless stuff until eventually, my limbs begin to respond to my wishes, at least enough to push the bicycle out into the world and get a move on. I have slowly but purposefully increased my daily distance to a now staggering 20 km, which is still a crying shame compared to my healthy past self. Anyway, must take things as they are. By the time I am back home, triumphant and sore, inflamed tendons screaming, more dawdling awaits. 

And thinking, trying to explain the world in my head. 

In no particular order, this is what's swirling around:

1. The covid conspiracy theories - there are people I know, who really truly want to believe that the world is good at its core, that all power lies with nature. And now this evil nature dishes up a creepy virus. So it must be someone else's fault. I have given up any desire to discuss this. I admit I have avoided phone calls.

2. Anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that 'my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.
(Isaac Asimov)

3. Garden. Here is one blossom from each of the currently flowering plants. As of today. We are inundated by wasps this year and we have completely surrendered one apple tree and most of the grapes. They feed on it in a frenzy for a day and end up dead on the patio stones. In other words, they are starving. It won't last much longer.

4. Sir Ken Robinson died in August. I was a great fan. Watching this talk always brings me back to my student days, when I still had dreams of changing the way children are educated - something I soon realised as utopian on a grand scale. Anyway, listening to him still makes me a tiny bit hopeful.

5. I had to agree have been told to reduce my home office work and, after this holiday, will have to go back working on campus for two days a week. My GP is not amused. In theory, there is a strict hygiene protocol incl. airing the room every 30 mins which I can just see happening in the winter months. Not.

6. I leave this here for general perusal (for source click here).  When I am in my office, I'll be in the yellow. But currently, only 40 cases in my city.

Risk of SARS-CoV-2 transmission from asymptomatic people in different settings and for different occupation times, venting, and crowding levels (ignoring variation in susceptibility and viral shedding rates). Face covering refers to those for the general population and not high grade respirators. The grades are indicative of qualitative relative risk and do not represent a quantitative measure. Other factors not presented in these tables may also need to be taken into account when considering transmission risk, including viral load of an infected person and people’s susceptibility to infection. Coughing or sneezing, even if these are due to irritation or allergies while asymptomatic, would exacerbate risk of exposure across an indoor space, regardless of ventilation.
7. We are in for another heat wave, apparently. 

8. This week's music is in memory of R's parents, who taught this to my daughter one day driving back from the beach.



  1. Thanks for Swinging on a Star by Frank...old blue-eyes. I may have learned it once, but it was great to hear the whole thing! (I'm going to share the link) I do hope you continue to stay safe. That's great that you can bike such a distance. Keep up the good work! I'm about to finish one course of rehab and switch to another in 2 weeks. I hope it will be easier.

  2. Thank you so much for your creativity which you bring to your blog through seeing how diverse things are connected. You inspire me with your writing from the heart and your lovely photographs, your links and the music and videos you share.

    O my goodness. Swinging on a star indeed! Or do I want to be a fish? A pig? A mule? And the antidote comes first -- Sir Ken Robinson's extraordinary TED talk. Through the wonder of YouTube and his books which I will look for, he lives on. Thank you for this heartening introduction to him.

    I first heard "Swinging on a Star" on the Mickey Mouse Club (sung by Jiminy Cricket?) on TV when I was a small child in the early 1950s. Listening to Frank Sinatra and then looking up the lyrics is a revelation about the years of World War II and their aftermath.

    Although I could draw from an early age, I could not dance the way the children on the Mickey Mouse Club danced. I remember trying to dance like Elvis Presley in the early 1950s, moving my little hips, and being told my parents, "DON'T YOU EVER DO THAT AGAIN!" It's never too late to learn to dance or draw or anything else, whatever the case may be. I can hear Sir Ken Robinson saying to me, "Don't be afraid to dance. You can learn to dance your own dance."

    I would like to visit the seaside, too. Someday.

    You and your bicycle are featured in the mandala I just finished (-:

  3. I will never understand people's need to ignore science. Never.

  4. That TED talk was amazing. Thank you.

    Why does your boss need you to work at the campus when you are able to do it from home? It makes no sense unless it has more to do with power than it is to do with science.

    20 km on a bike is an accomplishment. Be kind to yourself. You are fighting a great battle.

  5. nature is neither good nor bad. it just is. life is a struggle. #2 though is killing the US. look at that abundance of flowers! I would love to see your garden.

  6. The world these days, so much to contemplate on so many levels. How have we come to this? Science deniers? It is crazy in every way. It's wonderful to know that you are riding 20 km. That's great! We haven't been out of the house for days. Unhealthy air all around us. Looking forward to a day when we can get out for a walk again. Thank you for the music!

  7. every child should be taught this song.

  8. Love that song! And I love the Asimov quote, too -- it's so true. Your flowers are beautiful, and mostly very familiar! As for conspiracy theorists, I have no time for them, except to wonder with curious astonishment how anyone could believe some of the stuff they do. (Of course they're wondering the same about me, I suppose, but at least I can back up my opinions with scientific evidence.)

  9. How long has it been? And even then I doubt I heard all the verses. From any other gargle-box this is a musically lousy melody. But with Nelson Riddle or Billy May in the background and Sinatra (flawless articulation, rhythmic pulsing capable of shifting Long Island, and even a degree of self-mockery which is not necessarily typical) in the foreground, I am able to separate the score from the performance and bathe in the latter.

    From this move on to his version of Kermit's theme tune - hey, the show's for kids! - and he doesn't need The Lady is a Tramp to prove his gilded way with popular songs.

  10. Your flowers are lovely a lovely variety of colors. Ah, patience, my dear was probably one of the most important words to speak to those in rehab or engaging in following their independent therapeutic efforts — a word easier said than put into practice. Be kind to yourself.

    Fun song i recall hearing through the years with thoughtful lyrics in this tune Sinatra sings here.