Monday, December 5, 2011

One dollar bills...

It's weird being back in the states... For a number of reasons, but the one I just noticed: a $3 slice of pizza, paid for with a $5 bill, got me back two $1 bills. In Europe, a €3 item, paid for with a €5 note, would have gotten me back a €2 coin.

We have $1 coins here, of course... But hardly anybody uses them. There, €1 and €2 coins are totally normal, though... Well, and basically necessary, as there is no €1 or €2 note. Not that any of this is news to any of you that have travelled there or otherwise paid attention to the currency... But that's not really the point. The point is that I'm back in the states... And it feels kind of strange, somehow. Granted, I'm still on the East Coast. Maybe West Coast will feel more familiar?? We shall see.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanks Giving...

It's Thursday, the 24th of November, 2011, here in Berlin. Back in the United States, where I come from, that means it's Thanksgiving Day. And so, I thought I would write a little post, expressing some thanks.

Of the first priority, I think, is to thank all the CouchSurfers (and a few others) who have opened their homes to me over the past 3 months or so. I've stayed in Seattle, 4 of the 5 Burroughs of New York City, a couple places in Massachusetts, and at least a half dozen neighborhoods (and more places) in Berlin. And I look forward to many more locales, hopefully all over the world, in the future. Not a cent (in USD or EUR) have I spent on housing costs with any of these generous individuals (and in some cases families, or other multi-individual households) -- I can only hope that I've given them each something intangible which has rewarded their generosity... Because without it, I might already be out of money and... Well, I don't know what I'd be doing then.

Next, I'll turn my attention to someone for whom this particular day is a meaningful one. I've been thinking for days, maybe weeks, of writing her an email this day: it was our anniversary. But it *was* our anniversary. Or rather, it is the anniversary of the beginning of the relationship that has since ended. And we're nearing the anniversary of the ending, even... So it's kind of a past tense thing. Yet still, I feel compelled to express my thanks to that wonderful individual. For many things... From the fact that it is she who has given me the bag that I carry with me every day, with all my daily essentials. Or that it is she who gave me so much support for so long. It is she who I think so often of, when seeing certain things upon my travels. She that... She that someday I'll be able to let go of, but who has been patient with my lack of ability to do so, so far. There are many other things I could thank her for. That I do thank her for, silently, when I'm reminded of them. So Laura, if you still read this blog (or somehow ever do read this entry): Thank you. For everything. And for, I hope, appreciating and understanding my choice to say this here, rather than writing to you directly.

Following that, I think I must turn next to Miriam, who has also housed me in the past couple months - for a while in New York, and also even a few days in Berlin, when she came to visit me here. I thank her for those things, but also I must thank her for tolerating things like the above... Tolerating my continued feelings for another, my expressions thereof, etc. And of course that's not all. I also thank her for another daily item that I also wear: a lovely crocheted scarf. It's been pretty cold in Berlin lately, and it has been most appreciated. And... Well, I thank her, too, for many things, which I shan't trouble this blog post with. I still talk to her daily, so I'll let her know directly.

Moving on, I'd next like to thank those of you who still follow me on Plurk,and especially those who still reply now and again to my posts. I somehow seem to have driven a number of folks away in that forum, and so I'm especially thankful to those who have stayed with me there.

Less a part of my current daily experience, but perhaps even more important, I thank those of you have stood by me in the physical world... Visiting me during my stay in the hospital, visiting me at my home (back when I had one), joining me for Lunch or whatever, calling me to get together, or answering my calls when I initiated them. I have more friends out there than it's sometimes easy for me to remember... But at times I surely do, so if you're one of them, I hope you'll forgive my leaving your name out of the thanks, and just know that there's a very good chance that I've actually thought of you in particular when writing this paragraph.

There are many others, as well. Some of them nameless, even to me. Others whose names are known well to me, and to whom I have specific reasons to thank, but not the words right now to do so. And still others, in between.

Finally, though, I thank everyone who takes the time to read this post. For no matter how many others I do or don't take the time to thank, if it weren't for *you*, right now, reading this post... Well... There just wouldn't be any use in having written this, would there? Because while part of me might be writing it for myself... A very real part of me is writing it to be heard. And you, dear reader, have just heard me. And for that, I thank you.

Foxes in Berlin?

I just saw a fox, crossing the street... On the U7 replacement bus (construction...) between Möckenbrücke und Mehringdamm. Wow.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

2012: a year without money?

I predict that in our not too distant future, it *may* transpire that *all* current monetary systems will collapse. Or at least the "Western" ones that I know anything about. This is not to say that idea of money itself will collapse; I don't foresee that as being very likely, though I do imagine some backlash that might make it seem that way for a while.

My point, though, is not to predict what will or will not happen. And for now, I'm going to dodge the obvious question of why I've come to believe what surely sounds to many like a very bold claim (even if I do couch it in the parlance of possibility, rather than certainty). Perhaps I'll get back to that question some day. For now, though, my point in stating the prediction above is merely to give context to (edit: though perhaps it's worth noting that that's not my only reason for considering) what I'm thinking of doing about it:

I think it might be interesting to try to live all of 2012 (and beyond?) without directly using any money. At all. I would instead survive on a combination of gifts, exchanges of time, effort and energy, etc. I don't know if I could really pull this off. I don't even know yet if I'm going to even try. It's just an idea I have, that's percolating.

If people have thoughts about it, I'd love to hear them. Leave a comment, or contact me by whatever other means you have at your disposal.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Two small glimpses of minor celebrity...

Tonight (technically last, I suppose, but I'm still out), I had two small glimpses of fame. Or not really fame; that's probably too strong a word, but minor celebrity, in some form or other.

The first form was someone getting onto the U-Bahn in Berlin that I recognized... from his role in one of my favorite movies, a movie that actually played some role in inspiring me to choose Berlin as a destination: Lola Rennt (or Run Lola Run, as it's called back in the states). Well, at least I'm pretty sure it was him.

The second brush was of a quite different sort. It seems that I'm still occasionally recognized by Berliners as the guy "from New York" (hardly, but that is how I got introduced), who brought the Human Mic to Berlin on the 15th of October, for the Occupy Together protest that day.

I suppose it could perhaps be argued that I had a 3rd brush... I technically could say that I had a short film of mine shown at an international film festival. Here's hoping I'll remember to go back and add links to this post later... Or just more details. But I'm typing this from my phone, and I'm now off the bus so this'll have to do, for now.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Another tidbit of sanity.

Ein Kugel Eis: 1€

One scoop of ice cream: 1 euro (at least at some places). But that's not the best part. The best part is that, provided you get it in a cone, the cone has no paper wrap, and they don't automatically hand you a paper napkin... So it's potentially zero waste... At least as far as what I might call "pure waste"... I'm sure there's energy "waste" for freezing, etc., but no just purposeless waste. Or waste only for advertising purposes. Or waste "just in case you might need it (the napkin).

Just a little tiny step away from the "Disposability Consciousness" that I recently heard being talked about by someone named "Julia Butterfly Hill", who I intend to learn more about in the near future.

Monday, October 24, 2011

What does it mean to be "thriving"?

I was reminded of a certain word today... And a certain goal: thriving. What does it mean to thrive? How can one tell if one is thriving? How can one help oneself thrive? Am I thriving?

I don't feel like I know the answers to any of these questions, entirely... With the possible exception of the last one... Which... Well, let's just say that today didn't feel very "thrive-ish", if you'll allow me the coinage.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Sanity - mit Kein Getränk

I'm out for some fast-food (though Halal! My friend Ali would be happy about that) fried chicken (I'd been talking about it earlier, teaching someone the word "drumstick", and I guess I got a craving... So when I happened to see it...), and I asked for "Menü zwei"... They rung me up, and then I remembered to add "Kein Getränk"... And they changed the total for me, reducing it by the normal price of a drink. Sanity! Sanity, I say!

Back in the states, I would have had to fight to get them to not give me the cup, and they wouldn't have changed the price. At least at many places... A certain fast-food fried-chicken chain comes to mind. :)

And then they offered "brot"(sp?), which was the type of bread that I might call a pita.


Hallo aus Berlin (und mehr)!


Well, here I am in Berlin.  It's now been just over a week.  I figure I'm long overdue for a blog post... but internet access comes and goes when you're hopping around from place to place a lot, as I am, thanks (many thanks, really) to CouchSurfing (CS), and my various hosts from there.

I'm having fun.  It's good.  It's not completely a new experience for me to be somewhere where I don't know the language, but it's something I've done very little of, and I'm rather appreciating it -- though of course, most folks here speak at least a little bit of English (more so than the amount of German I can speak, mostly).  But I'm learning more and more.  In fact, I just had a "tahn-dem" (tandem) language exchange meeting with someone that I met last night at a CS event for language exchange.  She brought an English-language novel that she was reading (John Grisham's The Confession), and read a few paragraphs of it, asking questions as she had them, and with me giving her any significant corrections that seemed necessary.

And then she also did me the huge favor of bringing a kid's book (a book about Der kleine Eisbär -- the little polar bear), which I then tried to read.  I think I did half-way OK with pronunciation (though I was definitely getting some corrections), but my understanding was pretty limited, starting out.  But I wrote down some words with their translations, and perhaps I can study them between now and my next meeting with her, and I'll do a little better the next time.  :)

Meanwhile, I've also participated in the 15october march here in Berlin, and helped bring the Human Mic.  More on that to come, when I have more chance to edit some video...  Hmm, I think I'll end this post now, actually, and go work on that.  So... more to come.  :)  Sorry, I meant to write more in this post, but it got interrupted... and now I'm interrupting back to work on video.  :)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Side effect of learning a new language?

Is it because I'm learning German, or am I just having a flash of dysnomia? I can't thing of the normal names for the Phớ (hmm, do I have the right o?) I normally order? The menu (for a Vietnamese place I happened upon) was mostly in German, with a bit of English thrown in... And very little Vietnamese. I'm used to a Vietnamese menu... So... I kind of wanted to order that way. But I couldn't think of it. I suppose I could have ordered phớ gai, but I kind of wanted beef... And maybe tendon. :)

Few choices on the menu, here, though... I guess there's not the same acceptance/popularity of phớ in Germany? Anyway, I totally failed to order in Vietnamese. Perhaps because I couldn't really order in German. ;)

A longer post about more things is also in the works. Hopefully it'll make its way here at some point. Well, and hopefully this post will make it. I'm without WLAN (err, wifi) here at the moment. Not sure how the iPhone blogger app behaves in that case yet.


P.S. And a metal spoon. Weird. :)

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Sigh... Silly subway.

Well, I made it up to Boston, by way of western Mass... But I hadn't found a place to stay yet... Yet I did have one back in NYC... so somehow, I let myself be lured back. (By a Siren song? Hopefully nothing so dramatic... But there is a beautiful voice involved in there somewhere... But I digress.)

So, I walk down into the Times Square/42nd Street subway station for the N, Q, and R trains. I need an N or a Q to Astoria. As I'm walking down the stairs to the platform, an N is pulling away. Sigh. And the signs say something about late nights and weekends taking a Q to 57th & 7th. So after a while, when a Q bound for there does show up... I somewhat hesitantly get aboard. I know it won't get me to where I want to go (because it ends at 57th&7th, which is actually the very next stop), but I figure maybe it's telling me that at that station, there'll be more trains to Astoria?

Well, that does not appear to be the case. And when I get there, I'm on the wrong platform. And the N train, that I'd watched for to see if it might be about to arrive at 42nd -- perhaps especially during the minute or two before they closed the doors of the Q (because of "traffic ahead", a frequent occurrence)... But which had shown no signs? Well, there it was, arriving on the other platform. Alas. No time to get over there.

Fortunately, I'm now on the next N... Less of a gap, it seems, than the previous one. But still... Mildly frustrating. Especially after 4 hours of interrupted sleep on a bus from Boston. But there's a cozy bed 4 stops away, now... So that's nice.

Well, and I'll be just about in it before I have the wifi available to hit publish. ;)

Just a random excuse for an update, really. Typed on my phone.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Couch Surfing in NYC...

OK, I just installed the Blogger app on my phone... Maybe I can start actually getting some travel updates out on my blog; I know folks have been asking for them.

One big question: how well does this app work if I'm offline? That might be important if frequent updates are to happen.

Anyway, I'm going to keep this post short, and write more later. Tonight, I'm CouchSurfing in the Bronx, which puts me at having slept in 4 out of the 5 Burroughs of New York City.

I kinda like it here, in ways. Not sure if I could live here long-term, but I can definitely see appeal, and imagine I may well visit again.

Anyway, so much more to say... In another post, let's hope.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Information bubbles...

I want to share this with the world, and have a discussion about it:

I have lots of thoughts, with probably more questions than answers... Like, how do we actually have a discussion about it? Comments on this post? Get together in person some way?

Will anyone even see this post?

If you do, will you also watch the video?

I don't know... But I hope so.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Looking for a fresh start...

Laura is gone. Today, she collected some more items, which she had left here for my use, but which, upon me letting her know that I wanted to move towards purging and moving on, she figured she wanted to have, rather than have them just go out into the world.

So now, I'm more ready to have folks come over and pick over my belongings for things they might want. It is my intention to sell nearly everything, and hopefully soon. I'd like to reduce my rent burden significantly, not to mention just freeing myself up to be more mobile - to travel if I want, to live in a house with others around (which I think would be much healthier for me), etc.

It's time to move on. I'll keep the clothes that fit me, some as-yet-undetermined quantity of memories, probably some photography gear (though certainly not all of it, and probably none of the darkroom gear), a computer or two, and hard disks... And hopefully very little else.

If anyone would like to help me with this process, I'd very much appreciate it. I could use help in several areas:

(1) take things off my hands. Come pick through my books and dvds and cds, old legos, tools (from a pipe threader to Ethernet tools, plus a bunch of more mundane stuff), old computer gear, camping gear, eventually furniture... Everything, pretty much. Some items I'll want a decent price for; others, I'll ask you to take with you, whether you want them or not, if only to help me get it to Goodwill/Value Village.

(2) helping me sort and organize. There's a lot of stuff here, and much of it requires me to go through it one last time - to record memories, look for items that belong to others, etc. Even just having people around to talk to as I go through this process would be helpful... Having folks willing to take on a few tasks upon demand would be even better.

So come, help me move on. And perhaps say goodbye, lest I opt to travel when all is done. I think it's time I visit foreign shores, and I don't yet know where I'll go, or whether or when I might return.