Three for Glee

I’m thankful for …

The sweet scent of freshly steamed cherry leaves.

Random smiles, exchanged glances and romantic fantasies.

The awesome circle of friends I’ve accumulated in the last three years I’ve lived in Hamburg.

Seasonal Passions

The Japanese and Germans are in love with their seasons. This influences my thoughts about orderly change both internally and externally.

I sip warm café latte and feel as out of place as when I wear a long-sleeved wool sweater dress on a hot, sunny day. I love the warm, cuddly feel of soft knit as much as I enjoy the creamy warmth of Milchkafee.

Perhaps certain warm beverages belong to seasons as well. If so, dark earthy mochas belong to winter. Darjeelings and Chai to fall and spring. Herbals to summer.

Three for Glee, Day 19

  1. My mind is becoming philosophical in its nature. I’m happy for that and I thank my studies for that and I thank my philosophical playmate for that. I can take a topic like romance or fairy tale and consider its elements, define its meaning, explore its symbolism, determine its opposite or enemy. It’s an exciting game.
  2. I’m happy the second run through angewandte Kulturtheorie, which is really Bildtheorie is allowing me to communicate visually. I’ve always had a good eye for color and composition, but expressing a message or concept through an image is a whole other level.
  3. I was often jealous of Matthias’ ability to name his photos. I’m happy I’m finally learning to do the same. My fascination with verschwindender Geschichte: “Trace Memories”.


Three for Glee, Day 14

  1. I’m glad there are people in my life who understand and support my yearning for quality. I complain with, “When it comes to writing, sometimes I’m just so damn slow.” And receive the wisdom, “Speed is the enemy of profundity.”
  2. I’m happy I have such a damn adorable and well-behaved dog. I snuck Rocco into the club house and everyone on the AStA team fell in love with him. He’s such a cutie-pie.
  3. I’m proud I don’t mind stepping into the leader role like I did for our Angewandte Kulturtheorie Übung presentation group. I’m happy I’ve got the experience, organization and communication skills to do it and that my management style is consensus-oriented.

Three for Glee, Day 12

Finding three things to be thankful for is easy. Writing them down, a bit more difficult.

1. I’m happy I live so close to the Hamburg Haspa Marathon route. Neon is in fashion again. The sunlight and blue skies intensified their colors. I imagined it momemtarily as a live performance of the Mac OSX “Flurry” screensaver. When I wasn’t filming, I screamed out names on bibs to cheer them on. I grinned ear to ear in remembrance of running the same route three years ago.

2. I love being an American with an American car and doing American things like permanently wandering around with a coffee mug in my hand.

3. I’m grateful for having the lifelong talent of meeting cool and interesting people. I’ve got good taste in friends.

“Glee in Three” – Day 3

It’s the third day of my experiment. I’ve noticed one thing already: the moment I remember my task, I actively look for things to be thankful for so that I can have at least three points by the end of the day. Here they are:

  1. I’m happy to have hands. I attended a lecture tonight hosted by the Akademie der Wissenschaft. It was the opening speech in a series of talks on artificial intelligence. In his presentation, titled From Movement to Mastery – Manual Intelligence for Robots1, Dr. Helge Ritter mentioned of all the bodily movements, those performed by the hands are the most complex. I had never thought of that before. Not only can we do lots of things with our hands, we receive lots of information through our hands. It made me feel lucky to not have been born with a birth defect and to not have suffered from amputation. It made me feel happy to have hands. Subsequently, it also made me want to relearn the violin so that I can utilize my hands and fingers more.
  2. Once again, I have to mention how in love I am with the location of my apartment. I came home late, nearly midnight. As I walked up the steps to the building’s front door, I had a mad and sudden craving for ice cream. Merely one block away sits an all-night gas station serving both Ben & Jerry’s and Häagen-Dasz. In the old apartment, I would have had to drive into town thirty minutes away or suffer, frustrated and without.
  3. I am in awe of Barbara Gabain and her short film letzte Runde, which I saw tonight as part of the Documentary Film Week. I like her eye, her sense of color, movement, sound and her feel for atmosphere. She did the camerawork, the editing and the film concept all by herself. NOT as part of a group. She was invited to the stage post showing and I could see she’s not the typical twenty-something art student of the HfBK. She’s old, like me. I’m thankful fate speaks to me in ways I can hear and encourages me in ways I can understand. Maybe I really should try to transfer to a different university and maybe I really should study something more meaningful and exciting, like film. Something I might be good at. Something which might make me famous one day.

1 – This is my translation of the original title Von Bewegen zu Begreifen – Manuelle Intelligenz für Roboter.

“Glee in Three” – Day 1

There are articles on the interweb which profess happiness can be attained by simply stating every day three things for which you are grateful. My list begins.

  1. I’m grateful to have at least one professor this semester whom I like. My statistics teacher Dr. Jörg Pohlan speaks so succinctly so that it won’t be necessary to make audio recordings of his lectures. He states his expectations and goals clearly and has well-written and well-organized slides which he makes available to us online. He encourages student involvement and responds either positively or neutrally when receiving an incorrect answer. He’s probably an INTP and that relaxes me. Having worked in the I.T. branch for so long, I know his type and I like his type. It’s just nice to not have to work so hard trying to figure out what I have to do to be a good student in his eyes.
  2. The location of our apartment in Uhlenhorst makes me ecstatic. It takes me six minutes to walk to class. I can come home during breaks and do silly things like wear a light jacket for lunch and then switch to my heavy coat when the rainy afternoons get cold. The pharmacy and the mall is six minutes away by foot and the mall has a TJ Maxx. Today, I rode my bike to the Lange Reihe and then to the Mönckebergstraße, two of the hippest shopping streets in Hamburg and it only took me ten minutes to get there. In five minutes by foot, I can sit on the banks of the Alster and enjoy the sun and watch the sailboats and in summer feel the grass between my toes.
  3. I appreciate Amazon. It’s just nice to shop online, get great prices and have stuff delivered to your doorstep. A belly-dancing DVD arrived from Amazon US today and an extremely heavy 16 kg hitch-mounted bicycle rack for two bikes came in from Amazon Germany.

Old Blog – New Blog

Something I should get off my butt and do is figure out how to clone and clean my blog. When I changed its purpose to focus on the research I was doing for a paper last year, I made all the previous posts on moving to Germany private. I should just have two blogs and maybe now three so that each can have their own visual theme.

The Goal of our Freshman Paper in Urban Studies

So, if I’m supposed to write 20 pages in the next 20 days, I better get started and I better get started now!

First off, going through the notes from our meeting today with Gesine, …

Leyla promised to scan and send the hand-out Alexa gave us describing what the content of our paper is supposed to be. (I either wasn’t there that day or we only got one copy per group.) Also, since I had my operation on the day we were supposed to do our presentation, Leyla had the feedback notes from Alexa and she promised to scan this piece of paper for me, too.

There are no hard rules for how many pages belong to the introduction, how many for the main part and how many for the conclusion. We discussed something along the lines of 3 pages for the introduction, 2 pages for the conclusion with 13 pages remaining for the main portion. What’s most important is the proportion. So, let’s take a look at the following essays and articles:

Böhme, Gernot (1995): Essays zur neuen Ästhetik, Frankfurt am Main.
Section 1 “Atmosphäre als Grundbegriff einer neuen Ästhetik” spans 28 pages. The introduction takes up 1.75 pages and the conclusion is a mere two paragraphs, about 0.7 pages. That is about 10% for both together. Using this proportion, we should have no more than one page for the introduction and one page for the conclusion. His main part includes six sections. Considering our paper is 2/3 the size, we should aim for about 4 parts to reach a similar proportion.

Hasse, Jürgen (2002): Zum Verhältnis von Stadt und Atmosphäre. Wo Sind die Räume der Urbanität?, Frankfurt am Main.
This one is 19½ pages, very similar to the size we’re supposed to produce. One paragraph introduction (½ page) and 1½ pages for the conclusion with 4 parts in the main section. This is the 10% intro/conclusion proportion and one point per 5 total pages ratio.

Low, Seth (2000): On the Plaza. The Politics of Public Space and Culture, Austin.
26 pages, of which 8½ were pictures and graphs. That leaves about 15 ½ pages of text. A 3½ page introduction and a nearly 2 page conclusion. This might be a cultural thing. I think Americans tend to have longer introductions and conclusions than German writers.

OK, that’s enough. Originally, I wanted to do this study on every article we were supposed to read, but I don’t feel like it. I’m happy with the 10% and 4 main points for now as a basic structure or form.

IDEAS for the Introduction
1. Talk about Böhme’s definition of Atmosphere, relate it to our initial problem question from last semester.
2. What is “Platz” and why do we think Peterstraße is a “Platz”?
3. How did we go about doing the research?
4. Why is atmosphere important?
5. Include a summary of all the atmosphere theories we’ve been exposed to during the last two semesters as a way of proving we grasped everything. A clever way of doing this is to say we looked at the theory from Thibaud and he kind of went in the right direction but didn’t go deep enough, that’s why we settled on Hasse, for example.
6. Look for a good quote, two or three sentences that talk about “die Bedeutung von Plätze in der Stadt”.

The introduction should be seductive – it should invite the reader to delve further into the details, to encourage the reader to continue into the main section. It should tell the reader, “If you read further, we will discuss this interesting point and this interesting point and this interesting point.”

IDEAS for the Conclusion
Why do people behave differently on the Peterstraße? Explain it with Böhme.

NOTES about the Appendix
Only include material we reference in the paper. Don’t just attach your Q-Method paper from last semester as the appendix to this paper. Number your pictures so you can reference them.

Add line numbers to the pages of the transcribed interview. A 100-page appendix doesn’t make sense in an 18-page paper.

The GOAL / PURPOSE of the paper is to combine everything we’ve learned from our lectures plus add 10 more sources to show we researched further. We have to put it together and make it fluent. Smooth transitions from one idea to the next. Gesine made an interesting comment – she said the way we write reveals whether or not we read everything we were supposed to. She said it influences our vocabulary. She said this paper is more of an exercise in writing than anything else. Of course, it’s an intellectual exercise as well to understand all these philosophies, but it’s mostly an exercise in language.

NOTES about our choice of philosophical viewpoint: If we decide Gernot Böhme has the absolute best definition for our purposes, we shouldn’t only refer to the one chapter provided us in the second week of the first semester. We should borrow the entire book from the library and read the chapter before and the chapter after the one given to us to understand the context better. We should find 10 other books written by Gernot Böhme and pull out the most important information for us. This is where Gesine sees we can split up the work. If each member of the group takes 3 books and writes reading notes for each book and shares those reading notes with the group, it evens out the load. We should look at what Böhme focused on in the 70s, 80s and 90s and try to see how he came to his ideas about atmosphere because he probably didn’t begin with atmosphere. The 10 extra books is an important note. If we decide to use a hybrid definition, one part from Anna Ionescu and one part from Jean-Paul Thibaud, we should have read 5 more books from Ionescu and 5 more books from Thibaud.

Gesine said we should just start writing, writing, writing. We shouldn’t aim to be finished by September 9th but should aim to be finished by the end of August so that we can review problems with grammar in the last week while we are RELAXED. But more important than writing profusely, we should have a plan. Who in the group is doing what by when? When and how often will we meet and discuss? This is going to be interesting group work considering Leyla will be backpacking around Europe the entire month of August and Sonja prefers to work and party than study. I am so tempted to just write the paper by myself and let Leyla and Sonja write one themselves. I’m not sure if Alexa would let me do this. Leyla would hate me. Sonja would hate me. Timo would laugh and rub in my face the comments I made about him not being a team player. I also thought it was funny that Leyla lied and told Gesine she should would only be out of town for two weeks and basically just stared down at her paper while she said it not looking either Gesine or me in the eyes. Ah, the girls in my group have abandoned and disappointed me.

I guess I already went this direction by asking Gesine if we’re allowed to turn the paper in in English. She said it would be impossible for Leyla and Sonja to read through it and check for grammar mistakes. She also said the first thought to cross Alexa Färber’s mind would be, “If this paper is written in English, how can I be sure Akiko didn’t just write the whole thing herself?”

RESEARCH – Alexa wrote in her notes something about an article on authenticity from Rolf Lindner.

MYSTERY – How did Gesine find out my iPhone 4S got stolen? Did Leyla tell her?


Game Idea: Step-Ball on the Peterstraße?

Step-Ball is an old American game played by kids in the streets of Baltimore in the 1950s. The game was mentioned in the book The Spaces Between Buildings written by Larry Ford. I finally found a video showing a little bit how the game is played.

I found a further description with rules posted in a blog on the Lund and Company website. The original post can be found here.

Step Ball – In our neighborhood the houses were built on an incline. On one side of the street the homes were at street level. On the other there were steps up to the entrance, usually 8 or 9. One team or player would take the field on the street and the low side lawns. The other team would take turns standing in front of the steps throwing the ball against the steps. The idea was to hit the point of the step that would give the most loft and distance to the ball. Too high a step and the ball goes low. Too low a step and it is a pop up. If you hit the tread or riser or the inside corner between them, who knows what will happen. If the ball fails to go airborne beyond halfway across the street, you’re out. If the ball was caught on a fly you’re out. If the ball was not caught until after a bounce you had a single. If the ball went over everyone’s head it was a home run. Nine innings, high score.

If I remember correctly, the north side / Baroque side of the Peterstraße has steps directly leading to the building entrances. I’d be curious to see how people react if kids or people decide to play step-ball there.