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About 6 weeks ago I started slacklining. A great sport!

As I don’t have a good natural sense of balance I’m not a exactly talented for this sport but, with practice, even I have managed to make progress and my current record is now at 20 steps on the line without falling. No jumps, nothing fancy, just walking on a line 20cm above the ground.

Apart from slacklining, another free-time activity I enjoy are my tango classes. One of my dreams for the coming year is to combine the two and to find somebody to dance tango with … on a slackline!

As tango puts a lot of emphasis on “keeping your balance” it quite naturally lends itself to this endeavor.

So, if you’re in Barcelona (or near) and you can already slackline a bit and are generally interested in dancing, do get in touch!

If I can’t find anybody to dance with, I’ll have to stick to more mainstream/boring ideas such as juggling on a slackline. But so far that is still at least 4-5 months in the future …

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If mankind is ever to colonize new planets, I just hope that it’s not a Swiss person who gets to choose the new city names, as there is a real risk that even simply assigning numbers as names might turn out to be more creative. At least in the Suisse romande every other village seems to be named *ully.

Cully

Dully

Fully

Lully

Pully

Vully

I’d be very thankful, if someone can let me know, if this is due to some funny speech defect of a local duke, or if the suffix “ully” has any particular significance.

I really, really dislike getting up without at least 7.5 hours of sleep. Unfortunately, I “had to” do it this Monday morning to witness the Morgestraich in Basel.

At exactly 4h00 in the morning, all the city lights go out and bands of piccolo and drums players start parading through the city with lanterns. To get an idea of what this “looks and sounds like”, watch the first 2 minutes of this video. Of course, the effect is much stronger when you’re actually there.

What I really enjoyed was the fact that the parade did not follow any simple, non-intersecting path as all the other parades I’ve seen in my life so far. They would “randomly” turn left or right at some point and walk straight through the crowd. Of course, all in a carefully choreographed and planned manner. [This is Switzerland we are talking about here.]

During the day (and after more sleep) there were more “standard” parades of also more typical marching bands. Still, their paths often intersected which made the whole thing more interesting.

I also have to revise my image of the peace-loving Swiss: there was a confetti war going on all afternoon!

An important thing to know (which I fortunately did know): you better buy a sponsor’s badge before the event if you don’t want to get “stuffed”, i.e., if you don’t want your orifices to be filled with uni-colored paper shavings. A similar thing would happen to people who come up too close to a float and try to get some of the candy that the waggis on the floats a offering.

You can see some pictures I took during the event here.

I have to admit that the whole event would have probably been only half as enjoyable, had it not been for our perfect hospitality club host Claudia. (The person in front is the other culinary expert.)

I also learned a couple of new Swiss-German words:

Schnitzelbank. (If you can’t read German, see the second meaning in the English Wikipedia.)

Räppli.

Guggenmusik.

If this was an email, it would be look something like this:

Subject: Fwd: Fwd: WG: Fwd: Transparent Computer Screens

Message: Dude/Dudess, check out this amazing slideshow on Flickr!

http://www.flickr.com/photos/w00kie/sets/180637/show/

—————

I don’t like sending mass emails with fun stuff (though I don’t mind receiving), but I have to admit the link above would be worth it.

No, they were not all run over when they crossed the road. But chickens are simply not needed anymore. What the world needs nowadays are efficient laying hens – and Hy-Line provides them!

Their vision:

“At Hy-Line International, we strive to breed the most efficient laying hens that will produce the majority of eggs worldwide to nourish a growing population.

And their values:

The Hy-Line International team embraces a set of common values:

* Integrity and honesty with everyone
* Hard work in the pursuit of quality and excellence
* Diversity and cooperation across international boundaries
* Cross functional teamwork to solve problems
* Stewardship and welfare of our animals and the environment
* Confidence in the performance of our breeds
* Passion about listening to and serving our customers
* Innovation and creativity in everything we do
* Resilience and resourcefulness

By embracing these values, we believe that we foster a vibrant, engaging environment for our people to flourish and grow as individuals and citizens.

Admittedly, I was “pleasently surprised” (… though more surpised than pleased …) when on the second reading I did eventually spot the word “animal” somewhere on this page.

If it was April Fool’s Day I’d be so sure that somebody was simply taking a piss with this list of products. Now I’m just disappointed by the world and a bit by myself, for not being more of an animals’ right activist.

The next time somebody tells you a “Why did the chicken cross the road?” joke, just reply “What chicken?” and point him to the Hy-Line website.

That one can “own” cloths, makes sense to me. “Owning” land already feels a bit strange to me. How one could own natural resources in the (Ant-)Artic(a) or even on other planets, is even more incomprehensible to me. But “intellectual property” might be even harder to “grasp” (in a very literal sense). [How one could ever even consider to “own” people, is of course another issue.]

Concrete example:

Ellis Kaut invented Pumuckl in 1961. However, the artist behind the drawings is/was Barbara von Johnson.

Pumuckl is a kobold. He doesn’t have any strong gender specific traits but he still is fairly clearly boyish.

Von Johnson now wants to create a girlfriend for Pumuckl!

If you’re not German, you might not be able to feel the full cultural impact of this idea, but just imagine that the cookie monster only ate salads or that Bart Simpson started to be the top student in his class.

Pumuckl’s inventor went to court to prevent this, but she lost. This on its own I agree with (… I think …). I find it strange that a single person should fully “own” Pumuckl. It almost feels like owning Santa Claus. (Actually, has no Christian church ever tried to put a copyright on the brand “Jesus”? Can I still register “heaven” as a trademark? Can I maybe even sue people if they pray to “God” without paying? [Great slogan: “You pray – you pay!”])

Anyways, though I agree with the judges, I’m still terrified by the thought that Pumuckl might get married before me. 🙂

Very recently, the price for a barrel of crude oil exceeded for the first time $100.

Just a bit of story behind the story: It was in fact a single person, Richard Arens, who was responsible for crossing this “magical threshold”. The professional trader bought 1000 barrels at a price of $100 (… apparently, $100,000 is the minimum trading amount …), only to sell them a few minutes later with a total loss of $600. He did this according to his own account, to later tell this story to his grandson. 🙂

Bad pun: If he had kept the oil, he would have paid $100,000 for enough oil to light an “eternal flame”.

I guess everyone has heard of the following philosophical dilemma (attributed to Zhungazi): Suppose you dream that you’re butterfly. Now you wake up and you’re a human. But how can you be sure that you’re not just a butterfly dreaming that it is a human? (And would it make any practical difference?)

I’ve often had lucid dreams in my past before, but I don’t remember anything like the dream I had last night. It started out by me dreaming, that I was dreaming, that I was dreaming, that I was dreaming. Though at the beginning I thought it was reality. Then, as various strange things kept happening, I suddenly woke up, or rather I thought I had woken up (though in fact, I was still dreaming, that I was dreaming that I was dreaming). I was glad that I had found a rational explanation for all those strange things but then other strange things kept happening and I kept asking myself: “How can this be now that you’re awake?” And so I eventually I “woke up” again and in my dream I remembered that I had “woken up” before. Now repeat the whole thing again. Eventually, rather than “waking up” I just became lucid, so I still knew that I was actually dreaming and the inexplicable things didn’t bother me anymore.

So now I have the following dilemma:

How can I know whether I’m not just a human, dreaming that he’s a butterfly, who’s dreaming that it’s a human? 😉

Two weeks ago, Switzerland experienced a political earthquake whose tremors will be felt for the next years.

To understand and “appreciate” the whole situation you need to know (i) that there’s no president or chancellor, who has any significant power, (ii) that Switzerland has been governed by a coalition of the four major parties for the last 50 years, without any significant party in the opposition (… except for maybe the Green Party), and (iii) the government, consisting of seven ministers, is elected by the parliament and the distribution of the seven seats among the coalition parties is agreed before the elections and most of the time the seven “old” members are identical to the seven “new” members.

Now imagine this:

A populist party (SVP), which gets its votes on the right end of the political spectrum, becomes the strongest party in the Swiss parliament for the second time in a row. So far no surprise. This success was mostly due to its campaign against foreigners (with posters showing three white sheep kicking a black sheep out of Switzerland), spearheaded by its leader Christoph Blocher. So far still no surprise.

Now what really was surprising is the following: only one of the seven “old” ministers was not re-elected – Christoph Blocher, the head of the biggest Swiss party. Instead one of his fellow party members, Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf, was elected, without even officially running for the post and while she wasn’t even there for the election.

Although he was quite popular among the voters, he did not make many friends outside his own party during the last four years, as he often publicly criticized his fellow colleagues in the government, which is against all rules of Swiss collegiality.

Of course, I feel a certain personal satisfaction for his defeat, but he might be able to cash in on his role a martyr now and gain even more votes next year. At least his party now officially entered into the opposition … although they still have two out of seven members in the government!?!

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