my2cents

6. September, 2008

Broken families

Filed under: Life — frightanic @ 17:40

This blog now resides at http://www.frightanic.com/. It will be discontinued here…

In a previous post I wrote about a situation I witnessed where kids were being shoved back and forth between mon/dad on weekends. Earlier I also once wrote that I listen to American country music more and more. The below lyrics from the song “Every other weekend” by Reba McEntire and Kenny Chesney combine both subjects in a tragic way:

(Reba)
Every Other Friday
It’s toys and clothes and backpacks
Is everybody in?
Ok lets go see dad
Same time in the same spot
Corner of the same old parking lot
Half the hugs and kisses
There are always sad
We trade a couple words and looks and kids again
Every Other Weekend

(Kenny)
Every Other Weekend
Very few exceptions
I pick up the love we made in both my arms
It’s movies on the sofa
Grilled cheese and cut the crust off
“But that’s not the way mom makes it daddy” breaks my heart
I miss everything I use to have with her again
Every Other Weekend

(Kenny)
But I can’t tell her I love her

(Reba)
I can’t tell him I love him

(Kenny)
Cause there’s too many questions and

(Both)
Ears in the car

(Reba)
So I don’t tell him I miss him

(Kenny)
I don’t tell her I need her

(Both)
She’s(He’s) over me, that’s where we are

(Kenny)
So we’re as close as we might ever be again

(Both)
Every Other Weekend

(Reba)
Every Other Saturday
First thing in the mornin’
I turn the TV on to make the quiet go away
I know why, but I don’t know why
We ever let this happen
Fallin’ for forever was a big mistake
There’s so much not to do, and all day not to do it in
Every Other Weekend

(Kenny)
Every Other Sunday
I empty out my backseat
While my children hug their mother in the parking lot
We don’t touch
We don’t talk much
Maybe goodbye to each other
Then she drives away with every piece of heart I’ve got
I reconvince myself we did the right thing
Every Other Weekend

(Kenny)
So I can’t tell her I love her

(Reba)
I can’t tell him I love him

(Kenny)
Cause there’s too many questions and

(Both)
Ears in the car

(Reba)
So I don’t tell him I miss him

(Kenny)
I don’t tell her I need her

(Both)
She’s(He’s) over me, that’s where we are

(Kenny)
So we’re as close as we might ever be again

(Both)
Every Other Weekend

(Kenny)
Yeah for fifteen minutes we’re a family again

(Reba)
God I wish that he was still with me again

(Both)
Every Other Weekend

12. June, 2008

Thoughts about closeness and private space

Filed under: Japan 2008,Life,Travelling — frightanic @ 16:41

This blog now resides at http://www.frightanic.com/. It will be discontinued here…

I think the Japanese have a split relationship to closeness and private space. Some thoughts:

  • It is rather uncommon for Japanese couples to openly demonstrate affection for each other in public. Teenagers walking hand-in-hand is about all you ever see – if at all. Of course, it’s a cultural “thing” that also manifests itself by not shaking hands for example. Maintaining private space is important.
  • On most train/subway rides during rush hour that very private space is obscenely violated. You stand chest to back or back to back with total strangers. The fact that some men abuse this closeness to get their hands on “female body parts that are taboo for strangers” is only the sick culmination of this development (there are designated women-only coaches now).
  • I recently visited a Toastmasters meeting in Fukuoka, Japan. One of the members, a young lady who works at Fukuoka’s international university, talked about her upcoming “Global Communication” speech. She complained about foreigners invading her private space when talking to her. Japanese keep a certain distance respecting each others private space even in a face to face conversation. That lady stated that foreigners often stood too close to her during a conversation or that they kept their face too close to hers. I can see that there’s indeed a need to talk about global communication. A very interesting observation; I wish I would still be around to hear her speech.
  • Also in Japanese Onsens there isn’t much privacy. While men and women are separated (except for family onsens) everybody is naked in an onsen. After all, one of its main purposes was to clean your body. That was back then when one didn’t have running water and showers in each and every household. So, a few or a few dozen total strangers share the same cubicles to wash themselves and relax in the same couple of pools with hot water – all naked. Where’s the desire for private space here?

5. June, 2008

Why do Japanese live so long?

Filed under: Japan 2008,Life,Travelling — frightanic @ 10:10

This blog now resides at http://www.frightanic.com/. It will be discontinued here…

Up until now I was more or less convinced that electro magnetic fields/radiation (EMF/EMR) do no good to “living creatures” (humans, animals, plants). I couldn’t fully justify this believe with rational arguments only, though – bad for an engineer like myself. The internet is full of EMF/EMR articles for example at WHO, Wikipedia EMF, or Wikipedia EMR.

Living in Switzerland I’m not used to seeing a lot of electrical wiring hanging above people’s heads in cities. Most of it is nicely tucked away in underground channels and tubes. Whether they’re isolated is a different question of course. I want to believe so…

Should EMF/EMR indeed harm your body then why is life expectancy in Japan so high? Buildings in their cities span a tense net of wires that seem both chaotically arranged and unstable. Shouldn’t the Japanese all be fried alive with so much bad energy around them? Does the fact that they’re not suggest that EMF/EMR is harmless?

The following picture was taken from right outside my bedroom in Fukuoka, Japan …

4. June, 2008

Dead tired brains can fool you

Filed under: Life — frightanic @ 14:01

This blog now resides at http://www.frightanic.com/. It will be discontinued here…

Here’s a nice picture of how your brain can fool you when you’re dead tired.

In April a late software project forced me to work four weeks in a row without a single day off. Each day I spent some 11 – 13 hours “closing the feature gap”. Of course, more and more I felt like toast each night when I came home.
One night, just before inserting the tooth brush into my mouth I realized that I had applied the tooth paste on the wrong side of the brush. The plastic material is somewhat transparent…

Tooth paste on the wrong side of the tooth brush

26. July, 2007

Stock market is on the blink

Filed under: Apple & Mac,Life — frightanic @ 23:43

This blog now resides at http://www.frightanic.com/. It will be discontinued here…

You may or may not have followed the iPhone hype, but here’s a little story to indicate just how nuts and irrational the stock markets – or their players – act.

Introduction

When Apple launched the iPhone on Friday June 29th, 2007 their exclusive mobile network carrier AT&T was so overwhelmed with the number of registrations that a considerable number of customers suffered from long delays in the registration process of their mobile service contract. Meaning: by Monday night there were a lot of people who had bought the iPhone, but the mobile phone service was still not activated. Both AT&T and Apple refused to release any information as for how many units were sold during the first 2 days.

Showdown

This last Tuesday July 24th, 2007 AT&T announced their financial results for the last quarter. This time the whole world was watching as one expected them to announce how well the business with the iPhone had started. AT&T said they had activated 146’000 iPhone contracts during the first two days. So, they were talking about activated contracts while everybody was waiting for the number of units sold to be released.

Bummer! And the crowd goes: what, only 146’000 iPhones sold? But analysts expected between 400’000 and 700’000… What happens to AAPL (the Apple stock symbol)? It plunges over 6%! For no reason. The only interest one should have in the figure announced by AT&T is to find out how big the discrepancy between activated contracts and units sold really is, which would show how big the mess that AT&T created with their activation delays is.

So, ok AAPL plunged for no good reason, but only one day after AT&T’s report Apple itself was reporting their quarter figures. This was yesterday afternoon Wednesday July 25th, 2007. Steve Jobs reported that they had sold 270’000 iPhones within the first 30 hours. Considerably less than what the overly enthusiastic analysts had hoped for, but still a fair number! More than that, Apple reported record high earnings. Now that’s a reason for a soaring share prices. APPL compensated for the stupid 6% fall with a 9% plus. Is all well that ends well? No!

Conclusion

Never trust a company’s share price, because it is irrational. Of course, it’s the pure ‘supply and demand’ principle that I love so much but with a group of people on the demand side that is, what, out of their minds

Ohhh, and lesson learned for Apple? Why did they allow AT&T to report on the number of activated contracts? They’re out of their minds, too. Wasn’t it obvious that the public would somehow not be able to comprehend the true meaning of those numbers? Even a stock market novice like myself could predict what would happen after AT&T’s report. I’m still shaking my head over this.

9. July, 2007

A song that moved me

Filed under: Life — frightanic @ 00:51

This blog now resides at http://www.frightanic.com/. It will be discontinued here…

I’ve been listening to (American) Country music at http://www.181.fm through iTunes lately quite a bit. While I don’t share the overly religious, simplified, and USA-centered basis of most of the songs I still enjoy the music. I respect all the hard-working country folk most songs are dedicated to. Nonetheless, some songs can bring you close to tears because they’re so touchy – even if the artist seems to have fallen into almond paste (marzipan) when he wrote it. They ooze with pathos.

One such sweet piece is Tough by Craig Morgan. It’s an ode to strong women i.e. traditional women i.e. house wifes. Wonderful!

Artist: Craig Morgan
Song: Tough
Album: Little Bit of Life

She’s in the kitchen at the crack of dawn
Bacon’s on, coffee’s strong
Kids running wild, taking off their clothes
If she’s a nervous wreck, well it never shows
Takes one to football and one to dance
Hits the Y for aerobics class
Drops by the bank, stops at the store
Has on a smile when I walk through the door
The last to go to bed, she’ll be the first one up
And I thought I was tough

Chorus
She’s strong, pushes on, can’t slow her down
She can take anything life dishes out
There was a time
Back before she was mine
When I thought I was tough

We sat there five years ago
The doctors let us know, the test showed
She’d have to fight to live, I broke down and cried
She held me and said it’s gonna be alright
She wore that wig to church
Pink ribbon pinned there on her shirt
No room for fear, full of faith
Hands held high singing Amazing Grace
Never once complained, refusing to give up
And I thought I was tough

Chorus
She’s strong, pushes on, can’t slow her down
She can take anything life dishes out
There was a time
Back before she was mine
When I thought I was tough

She’s a gentle word, the sweetest kiss
A velvet touch against my skin
I’ve seen her cry, I’ve seen her break
But in my eyes, she’ll always be strong

There was a time
Back before she was mine
When I thought I was tough

25. June, 2007

I jog, therefore I am

Filed under: Life — frightanic @ 20:54

You see, Descartes’ famous dictum “Cogito ergo sum” can be transformed into whatever expression suits you best.

I hate jogging. I find it boring and only jog from time to time because it’s one of the easiest and cheapest ways to stay fit with outdoor sports. Sometimes though I feel I have to go jogging. Certain conditions virtually drag me outside. Tonight it’s pouring like hell, and yes, it’s one of those conditions. I didn’t go jogging despite the heavy rain, but rather because of it. I makes me feel special. It’s that “what the hell…” feeling.

After five minutes my shoes are wet. So what! Then my Asics jacket. So what! Then my socks. Whatever! Finally, my underwear is soaking wet. Yuck, but what the f…! I keep running, feeling free. Warm rain (rain or water?) is running  down my back and it feels good. The summer rain is so heavy it feels like in a car wash or natural shower.

Never done that? You should try!

27. May, 2007

Is honey from South America a good thing for Europe?

Filed under: Life — frightanic @ 22:26

Yesterday I found myself seriously debating with myself over what honey to buy at the supermarket. Right next to each other on the shelve sat two 500g jars of finest Swiss honey and Max Havelaar fair trade honey from South America. The Swiss at 12 CHF the other at half the price.

While I fully support any serious fair trade movement I think it’s ridiculous to fly products around the globe that we produce just as well over here. Sure, I want the honey farmers in South America to earn a decent price for their products, but doesn’t the shipment from their place to Europe make up for the greatest part of the final retail price? Helping the poor farmer by polluting the environment?

Max Havelaar also imports bananas and coffee beans for example. While the ecological conflict is still there I’ve got better reasons to put it off as we simply can’t grow bananas here in Switzerland. Of course, we could simply stop eating bananas all together, BUT if we buy them we can at least give fair trade products preference over “some other” products.

But honey, for God’s sake, seems as Swiss as it could be! Beemasters have a long history here. After all, I earn my living here and that’s where I want as much of my spending to go as possible.

My eyes wandered back and forth from one jar to the other as the above thoughts tortured my mind.

In the end I decided to buy the Swiss honey, but I bought the Max Havelaar honey nonetheless. Why? Because I wanted to try something new for once. Next time I’ll buy Swiss honey again for sure. Would you, too?

P.S. In case you wondered how the South American honey tastes compared to the Swiss: it’s a wonderful honey with a unique character, smooth, but discrete.

18. March, 2007

The values of an “intact” family

Filed under: Life — frightanic @ 15:21

Traditional (aka conservative) values haven been given up by a large portion of the society over the last decade. I live Switzerland but this unfortunate phenomenon can be observed pretty much around the whole world. I’m sure the reason(s) for this development are complex and hard to pin-point.
I consider “the family” as one of the strong pillars any society rests upon. Of course, the notion of “family” has changed over time. The size of the group of people referred to as family has declined. The mom-dad-2-kids combination may be seen as ideal by many in western cultures, but not too long ago a family was run by the grandfather or great-grandfather.
Nowadays, what we see is the absence of family at all. Mom-dad-kid combinations are torn apart and rearranged as couples divorce and move in with new partners. Single moms and (less frequently) single dads struggle to squeeze the exchange of kids into their busy schedules. I have never personally experience any of this myself, but I pitty all those kids who grow up being shared by their divorced parents. They grow up without the sence of belonging. In the worst case they make up for that by joining replacement families such as fanatic religous groups of all flavor or street gangs.

I recently stepped out of a train on a Saturday afternoon and witnessed how a mom kissed her sad looking 10-year old girl who was about the enter the train goodbye. Nothing unusual as such. Then I overheard the lady say: “Say hello to daddy, would you”. I immediately (and maybe incorrectly) assembled the puzzle in my mind in a split second. Parents divorced, girl with mom during the week, daddy given visitation/visiting right for Saturday/Sunday, and child being shoved back and forth. How sad.
Imagine how that situation forms the girl’s value system. What sense of family will she be able to pass on to her children? She is the new generation…

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