and, yet, a bit of sunshine :-)

december in switzerland, especially the zurich region is usually a bleary, dampening affair: high fog for weeks on end, rain (but very little snow), no real winter weather (but always: “snow tomorrow” promised by the swiss weather service), and ever shorter days. that, and a good dose of being increasingly fed up by chrismercial blasts everytime you go into one of the local shops, makes december somehow the most depressing month in the year…though, as dorothee pointed out the other day, christmas really is a joyous occasion, celebrating god’s love to us.

adding to the december blues this year are the horrible news and the pictures from the seaquakes in the indian ocean region. i’ve been reading the reports of victims and their relatives on the bbc news bulletin board — those, more than the pictures coming in via the internet, convey a notion of what happened and it hurts to read those short messages and stories…find the comment by martin kettle, how can religious people explain something like this? particularly interesting and ill-thought out:

  • it’s not just an earthquake (even one with such devastating consequences) that asks the questions kettle asks, any death poses those very same questions. we are constantly faced with the fact that we live in a hostile, dangerous world.
  • what on earth is a scientific belief system? (he uses the term non-scientific belief system, thereby implying that there are scientific belief systems) a system that can prove its “dogmas”? then it hardly is a belief system, is it? as soon as i can prove something, i don’t have to believe it, i know it…frankly, personally (as a scientist, hah!), i do find it easier to believe in a god who (somehow) created the universe than to believe in a wacky theory of parallel universes and living in a simulation

not the “why does this happen” but rather the “how do we deal with it” is more helpful, i think and i quite liked the replies by rev duncan macpherson and also mike dixon in the letters section of the guardian, as well as the essay of the german bishop huber in the german magazine der spiegel.

and, yet — in the midst of darkness there was sunshine today (literally) and that helped lift the spirits — went on my kickbike armed with my camera and took a couple of pictures in the sun.

going digital on the paper…

the other day i got the invoice for my weekend subscription of the tagesanzeiger: which aside from the fact that they would like me to resubscribe for another 6 months also informs me that they will only start refunding holiday cancellations after the 7th day…hmm…that would mean i’d have to go at least on an 8 week vacation to get a one day refund…i wish…coming to think of it, i decide “they wish” and to cancel the whole subscription instead: a bit customer unfriendly and then the tagesanzeiger has been shifting its focus from serious journalism more towards the yellow press kind over the last year of so by (among other things) moving its comments and analysis section to the last page of the main section and by reducing it to just about the half (the remaining half is now a kind of society piece disguised as a comment) and trying to make the paper “more readable” — which means less interesting, less readable for our taste. it used to be that one could pretend to be reading a serious paper on par with, let’s say, the süddeutsche zeitung or the nzz, my feeling is that that is no longer the case. too bad.

the invoice also informs me that if i were to subscribe on a daily basis it would just cost me CHF 320 per year…which, i’m surprised to find out is more than a digital subscription to the guardian and observer for a whole year…hmmm…looks like a better deal, so i sign up for the digital guardian and observer editions (also much less paper to collect, bundle and drag to the curb for collection every so often)

christmas late by three days!

i’ve been thinking about why we celebrate christmas and what it means to me occasionally over the past couple of years (triggered each year by the onslaught of christmas decorations and stuff almost as soon as fall has tested the water by dipping in its toes late in september). don’t get me wrong: i fully agree that god becoming one of us, that god reaching out his hand to grasp ours is cause for celelebrations!…the question is: why the 24th (ok, ok, the 25th for our friends in anglo-saxon countries)?

i think we all agree that celebrating the birth of jesus christ in winter has nothing to do with his actual date of birth but rather a lot with symbolism: in the middle of winter, in the middle of the darkest time of the year we receive god’s light — and i agree, that that is a very good “visualization”. but (!), then we should really celebrate christmas on the 22nd, after the longest night of the year, shouldn’t we?

so: merry christmas! 🙂

glimpses…

photography is one of my long-time passions. having started with minolta SLRs i switched to a nikon coolpix 990 a couple of years ago and have recently upgraded to a sony dsc f828 — while the nikon was already quite good, i’m endeared by the sony, especially its manual zoom, its rather solid body, and rather nice handling…but see for yourself:

new german rail timetable and it works fantastically…not

getting up early today as i want to catch the 7:15 from erlangen to catch the 7:41 for stuttgart (and onwards to zurich)…it’s pretty cold…make it in time to the station, buy the latest issue of the spiegel, a tetra-pack of mineral water, and make my way to platform 4 for the 7:15 RE to nürnberg — only to be informed on my arrival that that one is delayed by “6 minutes”…sigh…wait…wait some more…it’s +8min by the time the train leaves the station, which should be fine if we don’t earn any interest on that — which unfortunately, we do: we arrive 7:41 at nürnberg, the 7:41 IC that was supposed to have waited (according to the train manager) didn’t: a rocking 2 hours delay! thanks DB! and: no, no compensation, since it was neither an IC nor an ICE that was delayed…charming.