I see grey banks of clouds drift over the land, now and then one comes to my place for a quick visit. The light changes, wind gusts (I think I heard glass splitter two hours ago somewhere in the house), cold rain gushes ; twenty minutes later it’s over and only the drops on my grimy window pane testify that the cloud attack really took place. Two hours ago it even rained down Graupel, very fittingly called soft hail.
What a strange word. I wonder about its origin. Perhaps it was named after Fréderic GRAUPÈL, a French chemist, physicist and meteorologist of the 18th century … his biography needs to be written.

Another strange man’s biography is at least roughly known, I speak about Karl Julius WEBER (Ger., Eng., short bio German only) (1767-1832 ; he died in the same year as GOETHE, but was 18 years younger than Wolfie).
WEBER was born in Langenburg (Ger., Eng.), one of the Duodezresidenzen of the old Reich, in the middle of the magical land of Hohenlohe. A fictional thing this Hohenlohe – let’s say, one loves it or not ; for some people it’s the epitome of boring, for others it’s a treasure trove of hidden gems.
His father was an official at the local court, his mother worked as  Kammerjungfer. He was sent to the local school, later to the Gymnasium in Öhringen (Ger., Eng.), and finally to Erlangen to study law, later in Göttingen until 1790. All this sounds innocent enough, but in the times of the great revolution, and Göttingen being the hotbed of enlightenment, things could become a bit difficult. WEBER first was a friend of the revolution, but watching closely the descend into slaughter and violence made him find a more critical position. He aimed at a juridical professorship, but it failed and he went away from Göttingen, pretty hurt as it seems.
So he took the dreaded job of a Hauslehrer, a private tutor – what in some cases could equal hell on earth, but for WEBER it was a good time: He worked for a rich Genevan family, they travelled in France – these two years in France and Switzerland changed him : French literature, French esprit, a kind of savoir vivre and savoir voir, a way to look at things, accompanied him for the rest of his live.
Back in the steadily self-liquidating Reich in 1792 he worked at those petty courts like the one he was born into. In 1792 he became secretary of the chancellor of the Deutschorden (Ger., Eng.) in Mergentheim count Christian zu Erbach-Schönberg. After the count’s death 1799 WEBER became first Hofrat in that county, 1804 he switched as leading administrator to the administration of Ysenburg-Büdingen – and this was a severe mistake. To make a long story short – in April 1804 he left this position, as it seems pretty broken, disillusioned, hurt again : Large promises were not kept, intrigues were spun ; his character, seemingly a bit on the choleric-sanguinic side, did not help to ease things out ; he seemingly developed, perhaps from stress, hypochondriac tendencies.
He turned home. And home means the household of his married sister ; he lived in Jagsthausen, Weikersheim, Künzelsau and Kupferzell – all across the Hohenlohe. It took him some time to unwind, books helped a lot – at the end of his live he had amassed a library of 11.000 tomes. He spent his time reading, writing, smoking his pipe – and once a year he travelled.
The Hofrat vanished, a smiling philosopher, Demokritos, replaced him. From 1818 onwards (he’s in his early fifties) his historical works about “the Monks”, and “The Knights” were published. Later the Briefe eines in Deutschland reisenden Deutschen (Letters of a German travelling in Germany) followed – and this book (in six tomes in the end) was a success – Mr. Biedermeyer (Ger., Eng.) used it as travel guide. Still today this is worth a read, he writes a good style, and a certain serenity, peace of mind can be felt.
WEBER died in 1832 in Kupferzell, he is buried there and his gravestone is still standing. His major work Demokritos, oder hinterlassene Papiere eines lachenden Philosophen (Demikritos, or, Papers Left Behind by a Laughing Philosopher) started to be published in the year of his death, it became pretty successful. He worked on this text for nearly thirty years – with longer pauses - and it is a kind of encyclopedia of the ridiculous. WEBER is a forefather of the modern feuilletonistic essay, and like the great MONTAIGNE he does not shy away from opening up his inner thoughts, his character in great and small traits, his surroundings, with a smile.
The success (15 editions until the 1920s) came with critique, the accusation of being rude, shallow, hunting for anecdotes etc. did not prevent the German liberal bourgeoisie of the second half of the 19th century to buy, read and like the smiling philosopher.

WEBER choose as sepulchral inscription:

Hier liegen meine Gebeine.
Ich wollt’ es wären Deine.

Roughly: Here lie my bones, I wish it were yours. The family disapproved, so on his gravestone now we can read:

Jocosus vixi, sed non impius / Incertus morior, nec perturbatus / Humanum est nescire et errare / Ens entium, misere mei !

I have lived with joy, but not impious ; I die insecure, but not without confidence ; It is human not to know and to go wrong ; Supreme being, have mercy on me.

WEBER is the most important writer Hohenlohe produced, and pretty forgotten these days. A bit like the land he came from.


It’s a strange thing how we play along here on the web with our personalities and anonymity. Over time one develops a kind of internet alter ego, this figura or persona may be close to the real existing person or not, that’s an individual thing. Like an actor and his role.
Ed O’NEILL (Ger., Eng.), better known as “Al Bundy” (Ger., Eng.), once said that there is something of his own personality in the artificial persona (pretty much in fact), but it would be totally wrong to identify them. O’NEILL’s crux is – as it was and is for many other actors – that he always will be “Al Bundy” in the public eye. Whatever this “public eye” may be ; possibly a bored gossip writer in a sleazy newsroom … Would it be more convenient to imagine this writer awfully drunk or badly hung over ?
Of late I was trawling some gossip sites and looked at youtube and stuff, and always some person wanted to stick their tongue at me or hold their arse into my direction. Yes, I may be terribly behind and out of date – it’s all so last February.
But nevertheless,  the columns of the Daily Gossip for example are full of big arses of women, who are famous for having big arses. And other people, stars, starlets or F-celebrities, stick their tongues out. Or take photographs of themselves with other people in the picture (not so much, it’s only distracting, innit?) displaying body parts, trying desperately to be “sexy”, “erotic” or “interesting” – basically it’s just a cry for attention: I am here ! I am alive ! I live when you watch me. I am dead when you look away.
Sounds a bit like a robot program, perhaps for injured people, that only works when it’s needed and goes into hiding when it’s not called upon. Press the button (didn’t seventies mafia killers refer to themselves as “button men” ?), or simply look into this direction, and the arse twerking, tongue sticking, fake tanned bronzed zombie will shake whatever is there to shake. Or will pervert & reduce the fine art of self-portrait to “taking” a “selfie”. Like NIKE, the Greek deity of victory, was reduced to a hook on a gymnastic shoe.

Sometime in 1959 Saul STEINBERG (Ger., Eng.) took a brown paper back and draw an expression on it. Then he put it on his head. Inge MORATH* (Ger., Eng.) took some photographs. It’s called the “Mask Series“.
I am not STEINBERG ; the photographer is not MORATH – so whatever it’s worth, here is my “selfie”, tongue-less and twerk-free.




I fear I am a sorry old geezer now. But on the other hand I may only be in a mood. And because I am in a mood, here is some music to enjoy, all twenty minutes of it: Listen to Mr HALL, Mr DESMOND, and floating above them all, Mr. BAKER.

And whoever feels the need to stick out a tongue … shake their arse to me … oh dear … we’ve already seen it, darling … “eros” means not ramming it into the audience’s face !
But, on the other hand – I’m just another idiot with a paper bag on his head.

Vroum !

* I wrote about her and her picture of “Ms. Nash” here.

Adventures in Computing

Some weeks go I received an email from dropbox telling me that they had changed their terms of service. Nice to tell me, but why ? It dawned on me that sometimes in 2013 or 2012 I had opened an account there out of curiosity, simply to have a look. I never used it and thought that they’d simply delete it when it’s not used for say 12 months ? So I went there, logged in with the standard name and password and deleted the account.
I received a confirmation email:

“This email is a confirmation that you’ve deleted your Dropbox account. Your files are no longer on Dropbox, but we haven’t removed them from your computers.”

It’s nice that they refrained from deleting stuff from my computer(s). I had no idea … In the end it is simply a friendly hint that nothing is lost on one’s machine(s) when the service is cancelled. I may be a bit paranoid.

But what made me think is that I simply pegged in some address & a “password” and was in. I realized that I use(d) only one password for all and everything. I am not that vain to believe that what I read on GoodNoos, or my preferences on StumbleUpon or something else of this kind, would be of any interest for the big bad hacker. But I use it for more serious accounts too, business and tax related for example. And I would not like someone to have a look there. Of course I realise that if a state, be it my own or a really friendly superpower, would for what reasons ever have an interest to read these data, they could. But I do not want to make it that easy.
Additionally the heartbleed-bug affected some sites I use, and all of a sudden this rather simple & pretty worn “password” does not look so nice any more.
So I had a look at so-called password managers that come with encryption tools and autofill abilities. On Slate was an article about it. Some are free, and from these some only work with IE or FF. I use a chromium derivative, and finally tested KeePass2 – maybe it’s too late for the developer to rethink the naming.
I think I like it. It works well so far ; one can change a lot of things (what I will surely do not, but one can play around) ; it can generate passwords that are hard to crack, and fills them in when I want this to happen – I think that is what I like about it : It only works when I tell the program to do what it should do on an account starting page, no automatisms. So slowly and one by one the list of “managed” & changed (!) passwords will grow.
Of course, if this little database goes kaputt, I have a real problem.

Sunday Music

Last week was a bit exhausting, simply because there was no real break from the week before. We had a kind of open-door-event over last weekend, preparation and aftermath took more time and effort than expected, and well, no brake.
All in all I think it was a successful undertaking that brought some new contacts and revived already existing ones. Next week needs some working on this.

Sometimes one has to go with the classics. And here is JOBIM’s Wave, three minutes of trouble-free lightness, driving away demons – I hope you can enjoy it.
Let’s hope for an easy week.