mago, Places

Gruorn

Last weekend saw me visiting Suebia & walking around the Schwäbische Alb (Ger., Eng.) It is an interesting landscape – if I would have to characterise it, words like “reluctant”, herb – what my dictionnaire translates as “austere” – “bitter-sweet” come to mind. Die Alb ist ein karges Land. And beautiful.
Basically it is a brick that stretches roughly from West towards East in the Southern part of Baden-Württemberg. Different to other regions, like e.g. the Hohenlohe (Ger.), the Alb has clear borders : There is a region before the Alb, there is the Alb itself, and there is a region after the Alb. When you look at a north-oriented map the Northern border is marked by the valley of the river Rems, the Southern border by the river Donau. Yes, this mighty European river starts as humble creek somewhere South of the Alb.
And, because it is a brick, there is a clear difference between what is down & what is up : You have to climb up to the Alb, what today means that you have to drive an Albaufstieg, a steep, winding, and sometimes a bit challenging ascent to reach the plateau. On top it is windy, obviously cooler than down below, and all the vegetation is three weeks behind :  While the apple trees have blossomed in the valleys, they stand in full bloom up there.
The winters also are a bit different, they use these markers (Ger.) besides the roads not for nothing, these sticks (snow poles) simply show where the road is under the snow drift.
The people there are proud of their Alb, and love it to bits. Others can’t be dragged by horses to live & work there, mostly verweichlichte city dwellers. (I can not translate “verweichlicht” correctly, namby-pamby perhaps ? Because it must have an ironic touch.)
Nevertheless, all those softy city dwellers, notably from the Suebian capital Stuttgart, invade the Alb on weekends, sit happily through traffic congestions eager to reach one of the many Wanderparkplätze (parking places from where a nice little ramble or hike can be started, usually in a circle of two hours or so) or scenic outposts. There they gaze in awe towards Stuttgart (Fernsehturm !) or in Southern direction towards the Alps.
(I personally do not believe in the possibility to see the Alps from there, I think it is clever marketing trick : When I looked South it was either foggy or hazy on the horizon, or the land lay in a wonderful Sonnenglast that prohibited to see further than 30 kilometers. This happened every time when I was brought to observation points looking South. Nevertheless, some happy individuals may, possibly, have seen something in the far distance that could be interpreted as a Swiss mountain, with a little good will from all involved.)
We went to Gruorn (Ger. only).
If you ever had to deal with the German military you know that they like abbreviations. So on the road sign you will find it as “Ehem. Trup.-Üb.-Pltz.”, ehemaliger Truppenübungsplatz, former military training area.
Back in the late 19th century a military training ground was created near the small town Münsingen (Ger., Eng.), there is still a place called “Altes Lager”, old barracks or camp. In the 1930s the area was significantly enlarged and the old village Gruorn was “entsiedelt”, what means that the inhabitants were re-located and the whole local district was incorporated into the training facility. After the war the French took over and used it as intended, among other things, for training of house-to-house-fighting. I am not sure when the French handed it back, but since 2006 the area is de-militarised and open for walkers and cyclists, you should better stay on the established paths.
The church of the village Gruorn is still standing and renovated, the old school house is used as a small pub, and up on the first floor you find a little exhibition about the place’s history.
This may sound pretty bleak when you read it. But it is not at all. No modern roads, no traffic, no electric poles, no fields. In the end you see a country side as it was in the 1930s or earlier. It is remarkably quiet there. Open spaces with green meadows, woods, sky.
Silence.
Apart from the sound of those mountain bikes’ tires on the paved roads, only natural sounds.
And because this year is an extra-ordinary pollen year, you see clouds ascending from the woods, where the wind shakes them trees and pollen dust disperses like smoke.
I want to go back there, and wander around.

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Gruorn2

How it looks there

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Gruorn3

View over the graveyard towards the school house

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Gruorn1

Some blossoms

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The Alb is a good place. I want to be there. Actually I already miss it.
The rest of the week was quiet, back to work, the usual. I looked into the web, read news, and tried to read your blogs, but I beg for your pardon and hope you accept my excuses, venerated readers – I did not feel up to do this. When I finally came home in the evenings I just wanted to go to bed. Another kind of silence. And asked myself what I am still doing here.  Thoughts are floating, ruminat in cerebro, “es schafft” as the Suebian says.
Sunday Music will be resumed, everything will continue, but sooner or later I hope to change some things.

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Persons, Places

Was lange währt …

Some moons ago (nearly seven years) I mentioned European castrated slaves (Carzimasier), and we had a little conversation about the topic of European slavery.
So for the one (or two) readers, who still remember this, it may be interesting to learn that a conference is announced that will address exactly this subject :
“Spuren des Sklavenhandels im Heiligen Römischen Reich und seinen Nachfolgestaaten: Diskurse, Praktiken und Objekte, 1500-1850” will take place in Bremen at the end of November / start of December (link), s’il vous plait. There should be answers to the questions from some years ago. A publication is planned for 2019. À votre service

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Persons, Places

Should I …

… say something about the latest action of the fuehrer*, the firing of the foreign secretary, that is ?
I don’t think so. After all the question was not “if”, but only “when ?”
The form ? As shabby as possible, true to the fuehrer’s core. And do not disregard how proud the fuehrer is, he has to mention that it is his own decision.
The only thing I find interesting is the timetable. According to the fuehrer’s headquarter the now ex-secretary was informed / got a strong hint – or something – on last Friday.
A under-secretary of the administration for foreign affairs refuted this and said that the now ex-secretary learned about his kick-out today, like everybody else. Promptly the under-secretary was fired too.
So what was the last statement of the now ex-secretary ? He condemned the attempted murder of a Russian ex-spy on British soil and encouraged the British PM in her stance against Russia. Someone must have a list of the Russian ex-spies who had accidents of whatever nature over the last few years in Britain. GOd, it is simply what the Tcheka does to traitors, isn’t it ?
The fuehrer will say nothing about it, and will surely not join any program of sanctions or whatever. And if you want to stay on the fuehrer’s payment list (the state’s that is), you do not utter even the smallest critique against Russia. Or else.
(You can read about this “timeline” in the WPost, NYTimes, CNN, The Atlantic, Slate, Salon, with dates and all ; I do not have to repeat all this here.)
Do not forget that the seemingly most important thing for the fuehrer (besides his prick and dollars) is “loyalty”. I think it could also be called servile submissiveness – I’m not sure how to translate the German phrase hündische Unterwürfigkeit correctly : Whatever Vlad did for the fuehrer ten or fifteen years ago, it must have been – like great !
I can’t help : I think someone somewhere in a department for subversion read an old Asterix, volume 15, titled La Zizanie, Streit um Asterix or The Roman Agent, and then went to work.
If so, the result is impressive.

 * I will not call him “The American Leader” anymore. For me he is the fuehrer, with small “f”.

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mago, Places

Drano Is For The Weak

While I sit here at my desk I hear the grinding sound of a kind of chain running forth & back through a pipe. It was the background music for the whole day.
The housing management announced some weeks ago that workmen would take care of the downpipe in the bathroom of the appartements 2 (mine, I live in a “2”) and 4. It would be necessary that not only access to the flat is possible through the whole process, but that also an inhabitant shall be attending. I asked my janitor about this, because of my morning drive, I am usually back before or around nine o’clock. He advised me to pin a paper to my door and by this tell them that I’d be back at nine in the morning, and all is good : “They just need to have a look, no big deal.”
I wondered because I only had problems with the downpipe of the kitchen, and I know that other tenants had too. I think the number increased over the last two years.
This morning when I returned I met two young men in shock-orange, they were pretty upbeat. I mentioned that I’d have to leave in the afternoon – no, they do not expect to be here by then. And yes – it was the kitchen pipe they had to work on, no clue why someone had written “bathroom” in the announcement.
Soon they started to do what they had to do, and some interesting grinding sounds came to my ear. They came near my flat, becoming louder obviously, and went away, downwards. Some hours later Red (I’ll call him “Red”, he has red-golden hair ; his colleague may be called “Black” – sophisticated eh?!) came by and asked if all would be right. I said yes, no problems. The problem showed up when he turned on the faucet of my sink ; the water was spiralling down, and after some seconds it came back, and spurted out of the hole in the wall where the drain goes in.
He sighed deeply. I said that yesterday I had washed my dishes without any problems. He replied that this would be exactly one of those things that could happen. He marched off and soon another round of grinding noises started. I grabbed some rags and started the mop up. On second thoughts I took a small bucket with warm water & cleaner, and wiped the kitchen floor, it was needed anyway.
Some time later Red dropped by again, looking unhappy. He told me that the kitchen on the fifth floor was swimming, and the two ladies there were not happy about this. In fact they yelled some un-ladylike words, towards him and the world in general. But meanwhile the situation on the second floor would have resolved. I did not inquire.
I asked him why they would not simply throw some Drano down the pipe and hope for the best, at least he laughed.
Again some hours later I had to put my gear together and leave again. So I searched for Red & Black, because I wanted to know whether they still needed access to my flat. I found them on the highest level of the house in a maintenance room under the roof. Both looked tired.
Black was on the phone telling the foreman that they had lost that spirally thing they inserted into the pipe, a coupler or engagement thingy had given in. They had to stuff more than forty meters of this device into the pipe ; the pipe itself has a diameter of a little more than five centimeters, the cleaning thing exactly five. It moves, bangs, rotates, I have no clue what it needs to do to detach the slimy goop of forty years from the inside of the tube, but it does its job. Now it does nothing except blocking effectively a very long stretch of said tube. Don’t know how much they could pull out before the “thing” gave in.
I handed my key to Red, he would put it into my letterbox when they leave. He said that they would not plan to stay overnight here, with a wry grin … well …
Actually I have to drive a longish detour, so I have to start earlier in the morning to reach my first, most distant,  stop. In the evening I come back notably later than usual, despite the fact that when the kids are not aboard I can use some bumpy shortcuts.
I wondered how my kitchen would look like.
When I came home some hours later I found Black in my kitchen watching the drain and listening intensely. He told me that Red would be in the fourth, so I went there. Red had given the key to Beard, die Verstärkung, who actually was on the fifth. Beard was friendly, I got my key.
They now have to fight against blockage after blockage, it feels as if every ten centimeters a new obstacle arises. The spiral-thing is still in the tube, seemingly somewhere over the fifth floor. Without getting rid of the blockages they have no chance to reach the thingy from below and push it up with strong springs, or grab it with at least something. From above they have tried what there is to try. They have to clear this tube any way.
And exactly this is what they try to do.
Since I came home I had a sandwich, drank a beer, wrote this post. And listened to the interesting sounds in my kitchen wall. There seems no perceptible progress. In the end the poor sods will have to stay some more hours, sadly I can’t offer them at least a sandwich.

What is actually the name for that stuff that blocks a downpipe ? Any thing in mechanics, plumbing, in technics in general, has a (speaking) name, why not this stuff ? Does nobody collect & analyse it ? Ach, the wonderful, undetected world of gunk !
I really wonder when they will give in. And only hope that “gunk” will not explode into my kitchen tonight.

It was remarkably quiet for some time now. I thought that they left, but a glance in the yard where their vans are parked, shows me that an other one arrived. So they called for additional help and may pause, well deserved after more than twelve hours.

Just some minutes ago Black came by and told me that they have finished the job. Not much left from the matutinal shock-orange of his workwear, it’s more a solid black with orange dots. What a job.

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