(relatively) recent

My feelings about being a Berliner

I used to hate it, when I lived in London, when people referred to me as Londoners. (Actually there was someone, whom I won't name here, who used to regularly wind me up by referring to me casually in conversation as a Londoner, until eventually she took pity on me and let on what she was doing.)

This had a lot to do with the way that Londoners, and London Jews in particular, would act as if London was the be-all and end-all of British life, and the rest of the country did not exist. As a Novocastrian, I took umbrage at this.

For some reason, though, I never had this hang-up concerning identifying as a Berliner. Possibly the fact I never had the experience of living in the provinces in Germany had something to do with it, but I think it's more that Berlin from my perspective (which mostly means my workplace and my synagogue(s)) is much more cosmopolitan than London: Most of the people I know here came to Berlin themselves, or failing that, their parents did: Multi-generational Berlin families—people who speak the Berlinerisch dialect—are few and far between in my circle.

I felt I wanted to express this. So I made a sweatshirt (click through for higher resolution):

[photo]

Explanation for non-Berliners/non-Germans: The text of course plays with JFK's famous "Ich bin ein Berliner", but the addition of the "geworden" changes the meaning from "I am a Berliner" to "I became a Berliner". The bear I am dancing with is the state symbol of the Berlin. The I in "Berliner" is a silhouette of the TV Tower, which for me acts as a symbol of Berlin as the city I live in (the Brandenburg Gate being more a symbol of Berlin as capital of Germany). And the Union Jack in the background I have altered to be in the colours of the German flag to show both where I have come from and my successful integration into German society.

Lastly, the back of the sweatshirt reads "Und du?" ("And you?")

—Originally posted on Dreamwidth, where there are comment count unavailable comments. Please comment there using OpenID or a DreamWidth account (which you no longer need an invite code to create). Though I am leaving comments enabled on LiveJournal for a bit, please don't comment here if you can do so there instead.
Have a [gap] day

Reacting to Halle

There was a group I'm involved in here in Berlin (or was before having a baby made everything more complicated), which went to Halle for the High Holydays, to support the small and ageing Jewish community there.

Suddenly a substantial chunk of my social circle here in Berlin has become terrorism survivors.

This is a sad reflection of what it is to be a Jew today. (Or, indeed, most other times in history.)_

—Originally posted on Dreamwidth, where there are comment count unavailable comments. Please comment there using OpenID or a DreamWidth account (which you no longer need an invite code to create). Though I am leaving comments enabled on LiveJournal for a bit, please don't comment here if you can do so there instead.
(relatively) recent

Source of the Danube

A few years ago, aviva_m and I visited the Danube delta in Romania.

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Holidaying in the Black Forest this year, I thought it might be cool to visit the river's upper end; I don't think there's another river which I have visited both source and estuary of.

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beardy

Black Forest

In follow-up to this, so that's why they call it the Black Forest:

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(relatively) recent

Rabbit family photos

Some of you might have noticed the lack of Adventures with the Rabbit posts here recently.

Actually, there's a good reason for that: Bar-Navi and Jane have observed what now happens to rabbits in our household who don't keep a low profile: They get their ears sucked, and quite vigorously too:

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Of course it's their ears that get sucked; it's the tastiest part of them. Poor Peter Rabbit!

Still, just to prove that the rabbits (and a few hares) are all still there, here's a family photo:

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aviva_m: "We don't have enough rabbits in this household!"

Of course, the day after the photo was taken, I found a couple of cute bunny slippers that Rafi had; and indeed when I took it, I couldn't find the little black obsidian statue of El-Ahrairah. (It wasn't sold as being of El-Ahrairah, they've probably never heard of him at Mt Etna, but I knew it was him because of the glitter in the ears.)

—Originally posted on Dreamwidth, where there are comment count unavailable comments. Please comment there using OpenID or a DreamWidth account (which you no longer need an invite code to create). Though I am leaving comments enabled on LiveJournal for a bit, please don't comment here if you can do so there instead.
(relatively) recent

X*L*C*R

[X*L*C*R logo]

I received a pleasant surprise on Sunday,* when I got an email from my brother Darren telling me he was at the National Museum of Computing (at Bletchley Park), where, he told me:

There's a room full of Beebs... all fitted with a custom ROM of every single game ever released for the BBC...

Well Michael, I didn't realise you have been forever immortalised in this museum!

Congratulations :)

* British understatement, for my German readers: It made my day.

† The BBC Microcomputer, which was pretty much universal in schools, and also in many homes, our own included, throughout the 1980s.

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(relatively) recent

Reading rate revisited

I went back and revisited this graph from my previous post, so that it now shows counts of fiction (purple) and non-fiction (pink). I think there might be some non-fiction missing at the start, and certainly I have not included anything I read for academic purposes, but nonetheless one can see how during my Ph.D. (1996–2000) I felt non-fiction to be a chore, and avoided it; it was only afterwards that I started seriously reading non-fiction.

It's also clear how the proportion of non-fiction in my reading has got much higher in recent years (with the exception of the year before last, which I spent re-reading a whole load of books I'd been intending to reread for years, partly to justify having brought them all from the UK).

I did consider breaking the graph down further into, for example, non-fiction read for entertainment for edification, but the boundaries between them are difficult to determine, so I did not in the end.

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(relatively) recent

Reading rate

At the end of last year, I saw a couple of people posting online saying they had read 150 books during the course of the year. 150! I'd read... *tot*tot*tot* thirteen.

Well, I've always said I was a slow reader for a bibliophile; but it occurred to me that maybe last year wasn't representative; after all, having a child born was fairly disruptive to my established patterns. So I went back over my reading log to find out, and the result was a little surprising.

There are a few expected correlations, which I have marked on the graph; but there are other things I expected to see affect the graph which did not: the start of my first job, the start and end of my sole previous long-term relationship; and I had to struggle to work out the causes of some of the observed features, some of which still elude me. (Why did I read so few books in 2012? I moved to Berlin for two months, but that shouldn't have dented the yearly total so badly.)

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(relatively) recent

Revising German words

Maybe two years ago I went googling to see what the average person's vocabulary size was, and came up with a range of answers of which 15k was the lowest. My German vocab file then had around 3k entries, so I decided I need to get serious about enlargening it, and learn ten new words every day.

This approach lasted me until my vocab file was up to about 6.5k, at which point I realised I was learning new words faster than I could keep the old ones in my head, even with the help of my flash card program; and of the 6.5k words I had ever learned, I could only actually remember about half of those.

At this point, I reined my learning of new words severely in, and started going through my vocab file, with the aim of relearning every word I had forgotten (except for some I am likely very rarely to need, which I have purged from the file, the size of which has been rocking back and forth over the 7k boundary for months now). I started this process on the fifth of March last year, and have finally finished it today.

Of course, by now I have forgotten once again almost all of the words I relearned in the last year, but I am hoping that I might now have a few hundred more in my head than I did a year ago, and that continously relearning the words I have forgotten makes it easier to relearn them the next time.

I suppose the proof of that will be whether it takes me less than ten and a half months to go around the cycle again from now.

(FWIW, the 7k words I know are enough to cover over 90% of spoken German; it's the written language that pushes the lexicon size up.)

—Originally posted on Dreamwidth, where there are comment count unavailable comments. Please comment there using OpenID or a DreamWidth account (which you no longer need an invite code to create). Though I am leaving comments enabled on LiveJournal for a bit, please don't comment here if you can do so there instead.