10 September 2023

things are not always what they seem

It is an important and popular fact that things are not always what they seem. For instance, on the planet Earth, man had always assumed that he was more intelligent than dolphins because he had achieved so much - the wheel, New York, wars, and so on - whilst all the dolphins had ever done was muck about in the water having a good time. But conversely, the dolphins had always believed that they were far more intelligent than man - for precisely the same reasons.

Douglas Adams

Last night we went to the open-air rooftop cinema and watched Oppenheimer, all three-and-a-thousand hours of it. There are three female characters in it, none of them likeable, all strongly displaying the bad and sad characteristics of my mother. I shrugged them off. In my opinion, the film could have been done without them in it. Also, there was a slightly tedious lengthy section in the middle with guys getting in and out of jeeps, hammering and undoing big nails from/on wooden boxes, putting on googles and taking them off as the music reached more and more dramatic levels and then, boom, the explosion and a bit of an action movie momentum. Who could have seen that coming? Me, seriously. But those were the days, scientists, career politicians, the survival of the world depending on some of them being good guys while their women took to drink and went downhill. We cycled home through the dark talking about the war in Ukraine and options and the nuclear threat and that mad man in Russia meeting the other mad one from North Korea so that by the time we got home, we were exhausted, mentally and also physically because earlier that day I had been power cleaning the patio and R had been picking most of the grapes and it was very hot, much hotter than we think September should be.

Also last weekend, we went hill walking. Here.


The hills weren't very high but beautiful nevertheless. We had a specific route in mind but somehow got lost because R said he trusts me (i.e. the walking app on my phone) and while he pointed out the the sun was in the south and west is this way, I mixed up east and west the way I usually do - same with left and right, don't ask, I have been living with this all my life - and we ended up crawling down a steep pathless slope through dense forest to find a proper path. Or rather, I crawled while R skipped ahead like a young stag, bless him. I should mention that I started a fight there and then but he refused to participate as usual. It is so frustrating at times. I had my arguments ready in my mind but all he could say was, shh, hear this? Look up, a hawk! (and yes, there was one, yeah!). We stuck to the forest and when we got out of it, found a pub, well, we knew it was there, and inquired about the cottage even deeper in the forest which we had heard about and decided to rent sometime in maybe January or so, for more walking and dark evenings away from civilisation, and R is getting very excited already.

Anyway, I am really good at reading actual maps.

The next day I spent most of the afternoon on a call to the pension hotline listening to four different songs on repeat and some unusual recorded pep talk (We are giving it all we got!  You are almost there! Hold out! Whoah, we are getting ready to take your call soon!) and remained moderately cheerful and polite with my list of questions when I actually got a live human on the line who cheerfully and politely sorted all some of my concerns, incl. me being able to take time out sometime maybe January or so to do hill walking and spend dark evenings in a cottage in the forest away from civilisation.



02 September 2023

September, hello


what you cannot see is the tons of bees and their friends

It's been a long week, lots of walking and even more cycling as I've temporarily handed over my parking permit on campus to a new colleague with a toddler who needs to be dropped at the campus creche at a certain time so that she's on time herself. As I've only have another five or so weeks of actual work ahead of me before official retirement, I decided to cycle for the remaining days come rain or storm. It sounded great and worked out well during August but yesterday, we had flash floods and extremely heavy rain all day. But of course, I reassured R, I've got all the waterproof gear. Only it wasn't waterproof after the first couple of what?, minutes? Twice I arrived completely soaked which elicited some wonderful reactions from the people I was meeting incl. towels and fresh T-shirts.  


the shape of things to come


I've been asked by a friend of a friend to participate in a project of grandparents writing a letter to their grandchildren about personal mistakes, hard lessons learnt and (optimistic) visions for their future. I said yes without thinking this through. I know that I have been asked because of my involvement in housing co-ops and feminism but that seems to have happened in another lifetime.


one of many, shared with some bugs


At least, while I was cycling through torrential rain yesterday, I started on my list of personal mistakes, muttering angrily to myself against the heavy splattering of fat raindrops into my face.

The garden is slowly moving into autumn mood, although the next two weeks will be hot and there's hope for the grapes and red peaches. I just spent a mellow morning just sitting and reading and watching R doing stuff with hedge clippers and secateurs while the kids from next door were bouncing on the little trampoline singing the Hey Makarena song - only they insisted on Hey Margareta, but so what.  

these peaches will turn dark red when ripe


Back at my list of mistakes and lessons. It remains a great mystery to me how people can believe that our society is unable to adapt to less meat consumption, different energy production, less air travel or cities with bicycle lanes, but easily to a 3 degree Celsius hotter earth.

The one who pollutes the environment must not become richer than the one who protects the environment. At the moment it is the other way round. There are so many opportunities to improve things. I still hold that thought. But sod the housing co-ops, the reclaim the night marches, the pay gap campaigns, the long distractions from what really matters, the last and only issue that we must not pretend we cannot see or understand. I haven't even dared to think of visions yet.

The belief that success in the fight against global warming depends on how much each and every one of us does keeps us from taking the really important and courageous actions required today. Instead, it promotes a consumerism that functions like an indulgence handout in order to relieve our conscience and continue to close our eyes to the reality of the crisis. Capitalism pretends to care about the environment and we even fall for this greenwashing.

Kohei Saito