Friday, August 31, 2007

Random Tour Event

The dress rehearsal started late today because:
We have 2 buses to take us from the lodgings to the concert hall. The first one came and I managed to squeeze into it (who was the idiot who thought up a bus with 5 seats across??)

The group remaining for the second bus arrived a half an hour late at the concert hall, because the bus driver had mistaken a group of Philippine tourists waiting for a tour of Edinburgh Castle for a German orchestra, and they were duly deposited at the artists entrance of the concert hall. Quite bewildered. Meanwhile, the orchestra players didn't know why they needed a Philippine interpreter on their bus.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Greetings from Scotland

Edinburgh, normally a dour, dank, and dark Presbyterian city, becomes wild and teeming during the Edinburgh Festival.
The sun has been out a few times, and when it is bright here it is brilliant and the town is energetic and optimistic-- but when it clouds over (which is most of the time, especially in winter) becomes leaden and morose... then Thanks God for whisky. I am having a great time here, but I suspect that living here I would begin to crave scotch.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

On the Road Again

Just when I thought I was settling down here, I look at my schedule... we are off to Scotland to play in the Edinburgh Festival ... we will be there nearly 2 weeks. It will be a good chance to practice my English. Well, that is if they speak English there, that is!
The last time I was in Edinburgh was with the English Chamber Orchestra, and that was a LONG time ago.
wonder if I will have the nerve to eat haggis? I used to quite like it.

Monday, August 20, 2007


You think English tonguetwisters are hard, try this one!
I can't speak quickly, but for some reason all my kids can. Cordelia came up with this one this afternoon...(Sorry, video is sideways for first 3 seconds)
The text is roughly:
Denke nie gedacht zu haben, denn das Denken, der Gedanken, ist gedankenloses Denken, wenn du denkst, dass du denkst, so denkst du, dass du denkst, doch denken tust du nicht.

Translation : don't think you thought because thinking of the thought is thoughtless thinking; when you think you are thinking, the thinking of the thought is thoughtless thinking... etc.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

End of Sommer; Musings from my Empty Apartment

Tomorrow I am back at work again, but for the moment I am revelling in having the apartment to myself. Max the Lodger has gone home to his parents house for a few days, Lionel has moved out, more or less. It is a curious boarding house I have here; lots of rooms on 3 floors. People living here intersect--or don't--there is only one front door but many windows. There are just 2 of us living here now (Max, who is a cellist) and me; but often there are others here: Lionel occasionally, and his friends; Max's on-and-off girlfriend, the Belgian stewardess and bondage/latex freak; occasional students and people passing through.

Because there are a couple of spare rooms, and I am trying to pay college tuition for my son, I had a girl come to look at one of the rooms yesterday. On the phone, she was reluctant (the price I was asking was more than she wanted to pay; she would not be in town all that much because she lives mostly in Stuttgart, etc.).

She arrived at the door and came up the stairs (there are a lot of them, and no elevator), and I began showing her around. She was pretty, 22 or 23 with bright eyes. She began by saying that she would not be in Cologne all that much (she will be starting as an extra player, non-contract, in September) and was not at all sure it wouldn't be better just to stay with friends...
Then Max came down, and (as it happened) Lionel came in the door. The girl suddenly stood up very straight, kind of like a puppy seeing a bird. Her manner changed immediately, her eyes big and alert, she straightened her clothing repeatedly. We went upstairs to see the room, which had been Lionel's, and which still looks like the aftermath of a bombing raid. (But it is still a splendid room, lots of windows and spectacular views over the city). I explained that she would have to share a bathroom with Max and the kitchen with me, and that Lionel was still in and out. "No problem," she said giddily. I said maybe I could compromise on the rent because she wouldn't be here all that much. "NO, it is OK!," she said.
And as she left I heard her saying to herself, "It's perfect, really perfect!"

Note to self: Make sure Lionel and Max are there the next time I have to rent out a room.

I have been selfindulgent the last couple of weeks, undisciplined and lazy, reading magazines and blogs, but this will have to change, I have a full playing and teaching schedule starting tomorrow. But today I intend to stay lazy.

Here are a few random pictures from my apartment.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Procrastination-- a Case Study

What I should be doing: practicing to get myself back in shape after a long summer, cleaning up my apartment, which is in a derelect state and I have to start teaching tomorrow morning, doing taxes, sorting out bills, etc.

Instead, I find myself doing Other Things. It is now 7:15p.m., want to see whether I get anything done. Will continue to write this entry, leaving spaces where I putter around doing something:

Chatting to my lodger, who has come to borrow a mixer so he can cook something for his girlfriend. They broke up some days ago, but breaking up evidently doesn't rule out having noisy and athletic sex.
Now taking pictures of some bows and violins I am holding for a retired colleague who wants to sell them.
Now talking on Skype to a friend of John's who has a problem. Have relayed her request to John, also on Skype from Minneapolis...
Back to doing the photos. Have to get out the ironing board to put the bows on.
Max the lodger back in to use my oven to cook something for his athletic girlfriend
Phone rings, long call with ex-girlfriend, I should pick up my daughter at her new school on Monday, and I should look for a new piano for them, and ... well, a long list of things. I don't mind, but it is still exhausting to talk to her... back to doing photographs.
One of the bows is so odd, a curious carved ivory base and a mottled wood stick, looks like it has measles.
Photograph the 2 violins he gave me, one is an Austrian instrument from 1879, maker's name sadly illegible, I will Google the town and his first two names, see if I come up with something...
Isn't Google amazing? For a start, I learn that Klingenthal isn't in austria, it is in Germany... just: about a mile from the Czech border. Has a long history of violinmaking. the only name legible on the violin label was Johann (his first name), but by process of elimination I think it must be Johann Christoph Merz, and the date must be 1809, not 1879. This increases the value of the violin (assuming the label is authentic) by about $8000.
Max the lodger has come down to get his fish out of the oven. This leads me to wonder if I am hungry, decide that I am, so put a pizza in.
Max's girlfriend also wanders down, dressed in a bare minimum. She loves displaying her tatoos, which are numerous and well-distributed.
Cordelia calls on Skype, wanting to know if I have left any Rawlplugs at their house. At first I don't understand what she is asking, because I cannot imagine she knows what they are.
Now my pizza is beeping. Maybe I will eat it.
It is now 9 p.m. How am I doing?

Monday, August 06, 2007

More pictures from Hiddensee...

Am trying this slide show option... this is the 4th year I have traveled up to the Baltic coast at the end of our season, here are some pictures from this year.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Cordelia back in Germany

When she left Germany, she was just 5, now she is back in Cologne, ready to start 5th grade (and Gymnasium). All her schooling up to now has been in Barcelona in a mixture of Spanish and German, it will be interesting to see how she copes with the change in systems.
I am not worried though; she is one of those kids who makes friends immediately.

I had to go to a meeting and I left her at some friend's house, and by the time I got back a couple of hours later she had conquered the whole neighborhood. (she is the one in the green t-shirt.)
I have also spent some time this week at her new house, putting in shelves and dealing with various electronic problems... it is a luxury having some time to do this, because our season hasn't started yet and the Ossie is in Berlin.
It is a difficult situation with Cordelia's mother, obviously; I would have preferred something easier. The mother is a fine person but despises men in general (this even before she met me) and I just couldn't put up with the attitude. Further complications come with my present girlfriend's unwillingness to accept that Cordelia is there. (on the other hand, my ex-wife loves Cordelia and would, I think, adopt her in a second).

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Forget Global Warming

If you are worried about global warming, don't bother. Even the worst estimates are talking about a degree or two over decades.
Much more worrying and dramatic is this.
A change in the power of the flow of the Gulf Stream can cause extreme changes to our climate; even worse would be a change in the direction or path of the stream.
And it could happen quickly.
I have been repressing thinking about this for a while, but my brother told me today that his wife, who is a long-time stewardess-- I mean, Flight Attendant-- for American Airways tells him that pilots are noticing changes in headwinds.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Exploring Istria

My friend Olaf, from Berlin, is a psychologist, but he has been coming with us to Croatia for about 5 years because he loves it too. He loves explaining things, especially to his son Moritz. I love these pictures that tell a whole story.
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What am I doing this for?

Why do I enjoy teaching in Croatia so much? There is the guaranteed good weather, and it is the closest point from here on the Mediterranean Sea. The students love it, and it is cheaper than Italy and more friendly than Spain. The people all speak English and German.
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Realized while driving back from Croatia, with overnight stop in the Austrian Alps, that one of the big differences in driving here and the US is the lack of billboards. It means you can concentrate on driving and seeing the countryside. Reminds me of the Ogden Nash poem:

I think that I will never see
A billboard lovely as a tree
Indeed, unless the billboards fall
I will never see a tree at all!

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