Tag: Kram

Books Lists

It’s early March, towards the end of my week off, and I feel miserable. The headaches returned, not strong and hammering, but easily ever present and hence nerve wrecking.
Nevertheless I read some books since the last book related update. Here follows a list, perhaps you may find it interesting and inspiring for your own reading. It all falls in the category “Non Fiction”.

BENZENHÖFER, Udo (Hg.) : Paracelsus. Darmstadt 1993
It is a collection of essays by various authors about Philippus Aureolus Theophrastus Bombastus von HOHENHEIM, called Paracelsus (Ger., Eng.) (1493-1541). The authors are all profound authorities in the history of alchemy, the history of medicine and specialists for Paracelus’ biography and teachings. This collection provides a good overview over different aspects of Paracelsus’ life, work, and how the image of the subject changed over time, from late 19th century towards the end of the 20th century.
BENZENHÖFER (Ger., website) is a leading Medizinhistoriker in Germany, another focus of his research is the history of medicine through the “Third Reich”.

HILLER, Ludwig (Bearb.) : Tausendjähriges Langenzenn. Ein Heimatbuch. Langenzenn 1954
This is one of those small books in the category “Heimatbuch”. Usually a history of the settlement / village / town is published in celebration of an anniversary, like five hundred years insert-name. Langenzenn (Ger., Eng. website) is a town in Middle Franconia. The thousand years in the title of the little tome refer to the first evident appearance of the settling in history, when in the year 954 king (later emperor) Otto I. held a “Reichstag” at this place. As with other books of this kind that I have mentioned before, there is no “need” for me to read them. I just like to look into those books, read  a chapter e.g. about the fire brigade, or something that is special about this place, and have a look at the advertisements of the day. This one is nicely designed and brings wood carvings depicting views in and around the village.

FIEDLER, Wilhelm : Das Fachwerkhaus in Deutschland, Frankreich und England. Reprint of the original edition Berlin 1903, Leipzig o.J.
Originally a dissertation (Referent Cornelius GURLITT). A comparative collection of half-timber-houses in Germany, France and the UK with very interesting depictions of details. I just like old houses.

GELLERMANN, Günther W. : Die Armee Wenck – Hitlers letzte Hoffnung. Aufstellung, Einsatz und Ende der 12. deutschen Armee im Frühjahr 1945. 3. Auflage, Bonn 1997
I have mentioned GELLERMANN earlier here, but I forgot where and – sorry – I will not look now. This book tells along the sources the history of the last “army” the Wehrmacht scratched together. The word “army” is a bit misleading, in the end WENCK (Ger., Eng.) (1900-1982) had not more than four divisions of dubious fighting capacity, and found himself in a real lousy position. He made the best out of it when he refused to attack Berlin that was almost entirely circled by Soviet forces, and instead reached out eastwards to collect the remnants of the 9th army and lots of civilian refugees, retreating in Western direction towards the Elbe and in doing so bringing these people into the American sector.

SCHULZ, Joachim Christoph Friedrich : Reise nach Warschau. Eine Schilderung aus den Jahren 1791-1793. (Bearbeitet und herausgegeben von Klaus ZERNACK), 1. Auflage 1982
SCHULZ (about, DB, 1762-1798) gives a very livid and good readable description of Varsovia, of Polish life & politics in his age, at the end of the eighteenth century. ZERNACK (Ger.) writes a very instructive postscript introducing in SCHULZENS life and times. Interesting read.

KYTZLER, Bernhard (Hg.) : Geister,  Gräber und Gespenster. Antike Spukgeschichten. Leipzig 1989
From Herodot via Plinius senior & iunior to Augustinus, and all stops in between. Stories about daemons, haunting, haunted houses, doppelgaengers – the ancients already knew about this, here are the originals. KYTZLER (Ger.) is a classicist, so he knows the sources. Nice little tome.

NEULEN, Hans Werner : Feldgrau in Jerusalem. Das Levantekorps des kaiserlichen Deutschland. München 1991
I did not know that something like a “Levantekorps” (Ger., Eng.) existed before I took up this book. It is also known as “Asien-Korps”. The unit’s job was to support the army of the Ottoman Empire in various theatres of war during WWI. All in all a difficult task, successfully solved only in parts, while other engagements ended in plain disaster. I can not say something about the author, I simply did not find enough about his biography.

BÄUMER, Angelica (Red.) : Die Anderen. Fotografien von Harry Weber. Nach einer Idee von Margit Münster. Wien 1994 (Historisches Museum der Stadt Wien, 189. Sonderausstellung, 14. April bis 28. Mai 1994)
WEBER (Ger.) (1921-2007) was an Austrian photographer. The photographs of this exhibition show people on the streets of Vienna, outsiders, foreigners, poor people. I confess that I am not interested in WEBERs social message – he simply makes very good black-white photographs, worked in colour too. Here the nearly twenty thousand pictures he left to the ÖNB.

Maybe you can find something interesting.

Books Again, Waiting for Egon

The bi-monthly look at read books. Earlier lists etc. can be found under the tag “books”.

NEHRING [Walther] : Die Geschichte der deutschen Panzerwaffe 1916 bis 1945. Augsburg 1995 (first Berlin 1969)
General NEHRING (1892-1983) (Ger., Eng.) describes the history of the German tank force from its start until the end of WWII, not from an operational point of view, but from an organisational one. This should be easy for him, because he was one of the main organisers. In contrast to GUDERIAN (1888-1954) he was able to work within the traditional army and helped to establish the new weapon as tool of its own value. GUDERIAN lacked the patience for this, he was a tank commander, not a diplomat, that’s why his career stalled a bit in the thirties.
I picked this book up because I’m interested in the beginnings of the tank and in the cooperation between the Red Army and the Germans in the twenties (Panzerschule Kama, Ger., Eng.). Generally this book is a source for the hardcore historian.

VOLTAIRE : Geschichte Karls XII., Königs von Schweden. Vorwort von Peter Stadler. Frankfurt/M. Wien Zürich 1965
Mr AROUET (1694-1778) (Ger., Eng.) was a philosopher, of course, but even philosophers need to eat, and hence make a living. So he wrote, a lot, and the short and adventurous life of his subject, king KARL XII. (Ger., Eng.) of Sweden (1682-1718), is a rewarding topic. VOLTAIRE did not write down hear-say, but interviewed people who had known KARL, had worked for or against him in the tumultuous years of the Nordic War. VOLTAIRE did serious journalistic work, wrote the text in 1727, published it in 1730.

GELLERMANN, Günther W. : Der andere Auftrag. Agenteneinsätze deutscher U-Boote im Zweiten Weltkrieg. Bonn 1997
GELLERMANN (Ger.) pieced together what in the submariner files can be found about the use of submarines for shipping agents to various destinations during WWII. It is not about the missions of these agents, but strictly about the use of the navy, the role of the submarines. So he creates a list of missions that are verifiable through these files, who, when, where, how did it technically work.

VALLÉE, Jacques : Konfrontationen. Begegnungen mit Außerdischen und wissenschaftlichen Beweisen. Deutsche Erstausgabe, 2. Auflage, Frankfurt/M. 1994
derselbe : Enthüllungen. Begegnungen mit Außerirdischen und menschlichen Manipulationen. Wie zuvor.
derselbe : Dimensionen. Begegnungen mit Außerirdischen von unserem eigenen Planten. Wie zuvor.
VALLÉE (b. 1939) (Ger., Eng.) is a French astronomer and computer scientist, who works in the field of “unknown flying objects” since the 1960s. These three titles were first published between 1988 and 1991, and are a kind of “sum” of VALLÉEs ideas about phaenomena usually called “ufo/s”. I find his thinking enjoyable, worth some own thoughts.

WEIßLER, Sabine (Ed.) : Design in Deutschland 1933-45. Ästhetik und Organisation des Deutschen Werkbundes im ‘Dritten Reich’. 1. Auflage, Gießen 1990 (Werkbund-Archiv Bd. 20)
As the subtitle suggests, it is about the Deutsche Werkbund (Ger., Eng., website) in the “Third Reich”, not a general history of “German” “design”. It is a collection of articles dealing with traditions in German design, design of furniture, industrial design, kitchens, the question of the “style” of the Third Reich, and the continuity after 1945 right into the 1950s. Even when the Werkbund was closed after 1938, people kept on working, gute Form does not fall from the sky. Some careers were remarkably un-broken.

CONRAD, Dietrich : Kirchenbau im Mittelalter. Bauplanung und Bauausführung. Unter beratender Mitwirkung von Klaus MERTENS. 1. Auflage, Leipzig 1990 (Edition Leipzig)
The idea for this book came to the author when he was angry after a guided tour through a church. There was a lot of information about the foundation of the church, the history of the building and its historical value etc. – but nothing about how it was actually done : How do you build a church in the middle ages ?
CONRAD (born 1935) is a learned carpenter (Zimmermann) and studied building engineer interested in the history and problems of the technical history of architecture. He edited in 1987 Domenico FONTANAs (Ger., Eng.) report about the translocation of the Vatican obelisk from 1590. MERTENS is an architect by trade.

FOCK, Harald : Marine Kleinkampfmittel. Bemannte Torpedos, Klein-U-Boote, Klein Schnellboote, Sprengboote. Gestern – heute – morgen. Hamburg 1996 (First 1982 ?)
Small submarines, midgets as they are called by the Americans, small speedboats, boats that are built to be blown up, and manned torpedos, here are they all, described by Harald FOCK, until 1980 Lehrstabsoffizier für Schiffslehre an der Marineschule Mürwik. Very technical, very interesting, gives en passant a short history of the early days of remote controlling.
Would you sit on a “chariot” (Ger., Eng., btw a rip-off of the Italian original SLC (Ger., no English article)) and ride through the dark ocean ?

JARRETT, Lucinda : Striptease. Die Geschichte der erotischen Entkleidung. 1. Auflage, Berlin 1999 (First : Stripping in Time, London 1997)
A history of the Western striptease through the 19th and 20th century with a chapter about the situation of modern belly dance in Egypt – religious fanatics were already in the nineties torching belly dancing schools in Cairo.

MISIANO, Wiktor (Ed.) : Die zeitgenössische Photographie in der Sowjetunion. Reportagen sozialer Wirklichkeit. Mit einem Geleitwort von Eric A. PESCHLER. Schaffhausen 1988
“Contemporary” photography of the Soviet Union 1988 – that means it shows the photographic work in the times of glasnost & perestroika. A short time of transition ; very intense black-white photography by photographers I had not known before – and found hard to verify and collect further information about on the web. MISIANO (about) is actually the editor of an art magazine, PESCHLER (1922-2005) (Ger.) was a free-lance writer who lived in Moscow in the late fifties / early sixties.


It took me two tries to write this simple list, since Monday (!), I possibly had a little motivational crisis. Not for blogging (alone), but for a lot of things, but I guess it is nearly all back to normal now. At least I can become angry again (oh well), especially when my silly co-driver insists on driving co while she is coughing up ugly bacilli – I do not want to get infected only because this mindless person believes she’d be irreplaceable.
And on top of this, my favourite comics site has a new design that successfully prevents finding your dailys in one place – achgehmirdochfort !
I was promised heavy snow, freezing fog and all the goodies, but nothing showed up. Tonight a storm called “Egon” shall drop by and throw trees. I deeply doubt it, perhaps some broken boughs. At least it rains now. I think I’m underwhelmed.
Serious de-grumping needs to take place, I’ll start my best efforts tomorrow in the late afternoon / early evening, when I’ll have done my week’s work. Cooking and a good glass of wine should do it. If I’m in the mood I will even de-clutter my desk, and finally sort & file all these last year’s papers, really can’t see this stuff anymore.

Edit : In an earlier version the name of the storm was wrongly given as “Erwin” – apologies to all storms involved.

Cosmic Tipple *

The “festive” days are over, Saturday will be the last day of this strange year 2016. No worries, this will not end in a review of the year’s strange events or a list of the deceased.
I try to keep links to blogs, even when I do not read them regularly any more, or when the blog falls silent. The latter may have different reasons, like a change of the writer’s situation – especially when the blog was used e.g. as an outlet for emotions in a crisis situation, or when, generally speaking, the purpose of the writing is reached. Others simply use interest.
So I sort these links a bit, there is the folder with the daily “round”, another folder with blogs I look at now & then, and one with links to blogs I used to visit, that are silent or on a hiatus. With some blogs one knows that they have come to an end because the author is dead. It is either announced in one way or another, or is very certain, for example when the author was pretty old – a break of perhaps three years then allows the assumption that she or he died.
And then there are some blogs I keep close, visit, and hope that it is not over – and sometimes it rattles a bit, and – bang ! – there we go again. This was the case with the blog of Kabuki Zero, the man who told the world. After a small break of three years he returned to blogging, only to die after some months. This damn year seems firmly determined to kill as many creative, artistic people as possible. And it is not yet finished.

The time “zwischen den Jahren” / “between years” feels very strange this year. It is much too warm outside : When I look out I see greenish vineyards, a grey sky, and have the impression of an early spring day perhaps in March. The birds are confused, sing in the morning, I even saw first buds on a Magnolia. No snow in sight, no silence in reach.
One hears stories about people doing very strange things – not at the end of the world, but in the neighborhood, or within the circle of friends. So Kabuki-san’s surprising and unexpected death in a way “fits in” or “blends in” to this times of strangeness.
Perhaps the wobbly uncertainty & kind of alienation I sense around me, the uneasy outlook, the feeling that a bit more than usual, bizarre things happen on this old earth – perhaps it is a trick of the mind, and nothing changed, except my perception. But the possibility remains that the world in total, and my segment of the cosmos too, became a bit more peculiar than usual, uncertain, less predictable.
One should give attention to the dreams in the twelve nights between Christmas day and Epiphanias, and the strong winds each night seem to confirm the idea of the Wild Hunt passing through the area, blocksbergbound. But for the first time in ages I can sleep through, dreamless and undisturbed, missing out on the opportunity to learn about my future in the coming year – tah !
To make the outlook less gloomy here is some Poudre d’Or, ground by Mr SATIE, applied by Anne QUEFFÉLEC (Eng., about). [And, just for fun, a version played by Pascal ROGÉ (Eng.) for comparison.] I hope you enjoy the music.

I want to thank You for all the good Christmas wishes : Thank You.
I wish You all, my venerated readers, a Happy New Year 2017 !
Live long and prosper !



* Many thanks to MSScarlet for bringing this interesting word to my attention.

Safety First

Pointless, boring story ahead.

The first man came in the late morning and marked the positions. The second one carried a box with devices and a laptop. He sat on the floor and busily scanned codes in, marked the devices, sorted them and left, remarking that they’d be “scharf” now, loaded. The third hauled a large power drill and fixed the devices, all three in less than seven minutes. He left with a grin and gave me a xerocopied instructional paper.
You may already guessed it, venerated reader, I am talking about smoke detectors that were installed in my rooms. All for safety.
What I do not understand is that these things must be so terribly ugly.


They successfully searched for the ugliest smoke detector available in Europe.
They successfully searched for the ugliest smoke detector available in Europe.


They look like anti-personal-mines.
I chatted with my neighbour who is living in a pretty large appartement. They had six of these things bolted to the ceiling. Also another neighbour some floors up found six of these design disasters decorating her flat. So I wondered when in a friend’s flat of the same design only five abominations were installed. I met laptop man in the lift when he carried a new box of devices and said something along the line that they surely fitted some hundreds in this large appartement house. He was a little upset and complained that he had been told to bring more than 300 of the things, but he only had 200 mounted, at the utmost. If it would have been better organised they’d be at home already.

Yesterday I walked past the janitor’s office, found the door open and him sitting at his desk. I looked, he waved me in, kicked a chair in front of the desk and asked “What’s up ?”
I expressed my astonishment about the not mounted safety device and the lack of coordination. He rolled his eyes and explained that laptop man & friends were clearly instructed to nail a smoke detector at the ceiling of every room that is possibly a sleeping room, and in the exits or hallways (“Fluchtwege”). Of course not in bathrooms and kitchens, obviously. Laptop man decided to install the things only in rooms that right now are used as sleeping rooms. The large room in my friend’s flat is actually used as a bureau – no bed, no smoke detector.
And while they were at it, they ignored the basement level completely (six appartements) and were busily searching for the “Dachgeschoss”, the attic, that is miraculously not built.
There will be another date to fix the mess. It is not clear whether laptop man & friends will do this.
While I sat there I asked him what would happen if I heard such an alarm ? “I mean : Thursday morning, 09:30, I’m back from my morning drive, ready to sleep an hour. All my neighbours are at work or at the university, usually I am alone on the floor. I hear an alarm two doors down. I knock at the door, no reaction. My janitor is not reachable, he has to take care for other objects too, some miles away. Even if you’d be here, you are not allowed to open the door.” “That would be burglary”, he chipped in.
“I call the firefighters. They go in, false alert. Do I pay the operation ?” “Nice question”, he said, “especially because it was not asked before.” “So what does my landlord say ?”
He thought for a minute and told me that if he would ask this in the centre office they’d kick him and tell him to mind his own business. Very nice shop morale.
As he knows his company, they would pass the question to the firefighters.
He pulled out a file card and called the village firefighters, 70something.
No one reachable, even after several tries.
He called the village administration and asked for the number of the force – 70something. And, after complaining that it is useless, he got the number of a portable.
Which is not working. We tried two times : Number not taken, not connected to a customer.
“Better not burn here” he said. “Commander’s out for lunch”, I agreed.
So he called the emergency number.
“Yes, relax, no alarm” – and he told his story and asked the question. Their answer was clear : They are the professional force. If someone calls them they need to know where the emergency is, then they alarm the local force. The local force deals with it and decides whether they need professional help. The cost is not their business, that is between the local force and the local administration. For this village, they call 70something.
“Thank you.”
Two middle-aged blokes with too much time to spare and a telephone.
All in the name of safety, of course.