Sunday, December 08, 2013

End of year post 2013

I managed to comply with my compulsion to always write at least one post every month, and this year I also wrote no more than the necessary single post per month. Which makes this year seem very boring. But that's not true. But I would rather not talk about myself, instead I would like to talk about some things to get them out of the way.

Here are 4 things:

  • Girls taking pictures of their feet
  • Natascha Kampusch's book
  • Yet another Ralf Schumacher Syndrom
  • How my computer annoyed and degraded me

1. Girls taking pictures of their Feet

This seemed like a cliche reserved for uninspired photographers when I heard about it in Lost in Translation. But I'm scared to realize that this is actually true. Recently, I have been visiting a sort of blog promotion website to make my german dieting website popular (Du kannst es! - no need for you to click), and as a part of getting other people to visit my site, I clicked through their blogs as well - knowing that everyone on this promotion page only sat there like a spider waiting for other people to come into their webs. Instead of making an effort to attract views from visiting pages themselves.

So I visited others, and got visits from other people because they knew I had visited them instead of sitting on my ass waiting. But what was shocking: Most people with blogs are girls who are either into make up, fashion+spending money , or taking pictures of their feet.

I don't know what this whole "I am going to take a picture of my feet" craze is about. Is there an equivalent for guys? Something that guys do, only guys do, and they always do it on blogs? I don't know. If there is such a thing, it would be quite likely I do the same as all the other guys, whatever it may be.

I just find it kind of...poor. Useless. I mean, if there was a word for this sensation of watching another person's "foot picture", I think this word would be a new niche word for "underwhelming" or being strangely disappointed when all you see is someone trying to entertain himself in vain - while letting the whole world know about it.

2. Natascha Kampusch's book

I recently got my first E-book reader, which quickly raised the academical question in me whether a muslim woman would have to clean herself before reading the E-quran on it, or whether the E-reader would become holy, only the E-quran, or even the other books that are in the reader, and what effect that would have if other religious books from other religions were in that reader - but I digress...

...what I was going to say: I read the book 3096 days by Natascha Kampusch. I still remember being in Singapore and reading on about the case the day she escaped.

It's one of these events where, when people ask you about it, you still know where you were when it happened. Like 9/11 or when Diana died.

Well, Natascha Kampusch was kidnapped as a child of 10 years and only escaped from the stranger who kidnapped her when she was 18. That's the story in a very small nutshell.

What fascinated me about the book was not so much the story by itself. It was the fact how I could mentally "play" my life on an inner dvd player while reading through the book, kind of like comparing my life to hers. The places I went to between 1998 and 2006, the things I did, and considering that everything she did was being locked in a prison or having to renovate houses for her kidnapper while being beaten all the time.

When I was in hospital in 1999, she was in a basement prison. When I witnessed the turn of the millennium, she was in prison. When the planes flew into the WTC towers, I sat in front of live TV and she heard about it in her prison. When I graduated from school, she was in prison. When I met Marit Larsen, she was in prison. When I watched the three world cups of 1998, 2002 and 2006, she was in prison. I watched more than 100 formula one races while she was in prison and had no way of telling her family she was still alive and suffering. And she had no idea that she would escape, how, or when.

Even the stories about nearly escaping, about nearly finding the courage to talk to someone in a store where the kidnapper took her, only to lose that courage by thinking "he is going to say i'm his insane niece and walk away with me again" - that was thrilling and shocking. Shocking because it's a true story.
And even scarier: While I read this story of a martyrdom that's over, another story of that kind, somewhere in the world, is still evolving, and has been evolving for probably longer than her story and me reading her story together.

So that was a humbling experience. Sort of like acknowledging that people have lived and died before you, and will live and die after you. I think it's always good to bring yourself back to solid ground by reading stories by and about people like Kampusch or Aron Ralston, the guy who cut off his arm.

3. Another possible Ralf Schumacher Syndrome

It may soon happen again. As you may know as a frequent reader (those two or three of you who are), RSS is the syndrome that shows symptoms of arrogance and over-confidence that are totally out of place.

I have this uneasy feeling that another formula one driver might be affected by it: Adrian Sutil. He had an average season and towards the end of it, he said that he will definitely be in formula one next year, that he had a contract, that he just wasn't allowed to announce anything yet.

Well, I think there are reasons why teams don't want you to announce anything, and mostly that's because nothing is set in stone yet!

Well, formula one has been changing a lot lately and next season with new engines and cars might even see Sebastian Vettel possibly losing his title if only one of the other teams adapts faster and better to the new rules.

But as for Adrian Sutil, the financial problems for the teams may cause them to hire pay drivers from now on, and he might be the one to not get a cockpit. We will have to see about that. I just find it very suspicious when someone is totally confident, but can't seem to make his team announce with pride that he will drive for them. His current team, Force India, already confirmed Hülkenberg as one of their drivers, and it's not very likely that the other driver will also be German, as teams usually try to attract sponsors from different countries to get more money options.

If I'm wrong about Sutil, hey, that would be great. One more German driver to stay with us. We will see.

4. My computer making me his little bitch

Don't you just love it when your computer makes fun of you, degrades you and knows perfectly that you can't do anything about it, not even blame it because "it's only a machine"? It's like the Truman show telling you that your whole life is just a game, but you know what? You can't prove that it's just a show. These are the times when I secretly need some medication before I go insane. Muhaha.

This is how I feel about computers sometimes. They break down in ways that defy all logic. Then, you think that there must be conscience in them, but on the other hand, you can't prove it and you'd be put into a mental hospital sooner than you can say "Bill Gates".

Here is the most recent story of my digital adventures: I wanted to record music on my computer, something I had done before in the exact same way, with the exact same computer and the exact same recording device, a synthesizer with MIDI USB connection.

I plugged in everything and started the computer. The only thing against me was that this connection had not been used for some time. It's basically the same as saying I wanted to play a game I had not played for some months but had never deleted from my PC anyway.

But then came the obvious catch. My computer denied any knowledge of the device. The good news was that it was "willing" to install the foreign body that was leeching like a tick on the USB cable.

So it already said stuff like "yeah, I know you have this Midi USB thing going on... I need some drivers".

That was already some good information for me as I knew that the computer was not only aware of the hardware (thank God) but also knew what kind of device it was, so it was definitely not talking about some other USB device that might have been plugged in at the same time - a camera, a memory stick, or even a fondue set.

Then came the situation I like to call the "macho moment".

The computer told me that "he" needed some files as drivers. I can't recall "his" exact words, instead I will list them here they way I recall them from my emotional memory.

Computer: Hey, you know what? I need this Emuk17.dll file.

Me: Okay... But it should be on the computer, I mean, I never deleted anything and certainly you shouldn't either since I wouldn't allow that.

Computer: Just go with it. I really need it. And arguing with me won't help.

Me: Okay. I suppose that it's not on the computer any more, so I will check online.

***checks online***

Me: Excuse me, dear computer. I just read that "the Emuk17.dll file can usually be found at C:/windows, C:/windows/system32 or other similar places". Could it be that you actually HAVE that file already???

Computer: I never said I didn't have it. I only said I need it.

Me: What? You want ME to look for it?

Computer: What's the problem? You want me to look for it with my personal logic? You want me to browse through your last summer vacation pictures to look for it there? Through your music files, your chat log files, your temporary internet files? You want me to search through your computer games to see if a driver for a music USB device may accidentally end up there? Come on, it's faster if you look for yourself.

Me: This should be your job!

Computer: Then ask the dog.

Me: You mean this little fucker?

Computer: Yeah, he is responsible for that kind of shit.

Me: Okay.... search dog, please come here

Dog (after minutes of loading): Do you want me to search for anything?

Me: No, I want you to wash my car. Of course I want you to search for something, you idiot!

Dog: What do you want me to search for?

Me: It's this file, Emuk17.dll - I need it.

Dog: Do you want me to search for files, music, audio files, video files, do you want me to search in folder, pictures, hard drive, connected USB devices, what exactly do you want to do?

Me: Uhmm... can you just... okay, whatever. It's probably somewhere in C:/ and it's a file. Okay?

Dog: Yeah, let me check *starts searching*

Computer: You know, I would have done it for you too, but then you'd have to make me a sandwich first *claps my ass virtually*

Me: Fuck. You.

*minutes pass*

Dog: Hey, I am back. I found nothing.

Me: What do you mean?

Dog: I searched through C:/ just like you asked me to. I found a lot of things there, mostly folders. Some of them had names like "windows" or "system32", but there was no such file as you requested.

Me: Did you check these folders you just mentioned?

Dog: No....

Me: Why... not...?

Dog: You only said I should check C:/ and I did that. If you tell me to check the cupboard for your car keys, I expect them to be on top of it, not in one of the drawers. You have to be specific. You didn't say check C:/windows or C:/windows/system32

Me: So you are saying I need to specify every little thing about the search in order to find my file?

Dog: Yes.

Me: Tell me one thing, you little fucker. Who is more useless? You or that paper clip guy from Microsoft Word?

Dog: I don't know, but I could look for him. Do you want me to check C:/ or D:/ for him?

Me: Fuck you

Dog: Is that a file or a piece of music?

Me: It's a piece of shit coming out of your ass.

Computer: So, can we go on now with the driver? I think I might fall asleep soon and then you have to restart me.

Me: No, please don't freeze now. *clicks "search for file manually"*

Computer: I could search for it myself, but my programmers found it better if the user has to click the file himself to degrade and humiliate himself.

Me: Yeah, I got it.... what the fuck? It was there all along? The file was in the system32 folder in C:/, right there, and all I had to do was open the folder, search with my eyes through the files and find it. There you have it? Can I use this device now?

Computer: Oh no, not yet. I also need the Emuk28.dll and the Fuckmuck22.dll please. I think their location since last time hasn't changed at all, but please find them for me because the .dll files are not in the same folder as the device itself.

Me: Oh guess what, they are all in the same stupid folder! How easy can it get! Come on. The dog should have done this, and you too!

Computer: Okay, we're finished, do whatever you like now *freezes*

Me: Yeah, thanks for nothing. Freezing is a computer's way of turning their back on you. *restarts computer*

Happy new year to everyone in advance! Signing out for this year.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Major Suckage

Recent things that suck:

1. The fact that my MS Word, although I'm German and have lived in Germany all my life, does not know certain words it should. For example:

  • Hühnchenfleisch (chicken meat) - alternate suggestion: Menschenfleisch (Human meat)
  • Heißhungerattacken (urgent food cravings / hunger attacks) - alternate suggestion: Regierungsattacken (government attacks?!)

2. The fact that blogger does not know how to format text properly. I spent 2 hours writing a blog post about a video game, formatting the text with colors, fonts, headlines, bold, italics and other stuff, only to find out most of the stuff doesn't make a damn difference to blogger. 

Well, we only live in the year 2013. We're not advanced enough yet. I mean, good things take time. But then, why don't we need a crank handle to start a car's engine, or why do we not need phone operators to talk to on the phone any more, and why can I actually write all this stuff to people around the world when blogger is not able to format texts? I mean, this whole internet stuff is much too avant-garde in comparison to text formatting....woah!

3. The fact that yahoo mail actually has the guts to ask me to confirm that I'm not a spammer. I'm trying to write an email to someone I know and yahoo asks me to enter a number code in order to make sure I'm not a robot. 

First of all, I can't even read the damn numbers. Sometimes I get it wrong! And also, this is my damn email adress, okay? I could try another provider if yahoo doesn't trust me.

Then, on the other hand, yahoo mail is an ass-kisser. When my spam folder is empty (lol), they say "you are my hero! You keep your folder free from spam". What the hell? Then why do you give me this slavery treatment like I'm supposed to be grateful I can even SEND an email????!!!!

4. The fact that Supermarkt prices are STILL like this:


I keep collecting coins I don't freaking need. I need to go to a bank to put them back into my account. Who needs this?

Of all the secret, hidden, subliminal psychology tricks that groceries use, is this one really the absolute best? Is this the all time money maker?

Are people really that easily impressed by numbers? Come on, if just one market rounded up the numbers, people would feel a sudden relief from pain in the ass!

5. The fact that my internet router is losing connection or resetting every day. Oh well, it's only the year 2013. We don't have Neuro-USB-connectors at the back of our heads yet.

If I was in charge of any of these things, wow... but no, I'm just a crappy customer.

Monday, October 14, 2013

The perfect American president

Warning: This post is very controversial in its nature. I intend no racism or any other kind of discrimination against minorities mentioned here. This is purely a parody of extreme political correctness and the attempt of people to please everyone.

I watched some videos about feminism on youtube and realized once more how difficult it is to please everyone. It seems that many situations in life are viewed by feminists as degrading, disempowering or in other terms negative for women. As a guy, it makes me feel sorry that I was even born to be a man. As if it's suddenly my fault that I belong to the gender that has been degrading women.

Weird... because I don't feel like I should be responsible for anything. And then it reminded me of my "fantasy" about the perfect American president. It was in 2008. Before Obama became president, he was battling with Hillary Clinton over who would become the democratic candidate for presidency.

Either way, there would be a chance to have a "first" kind of president. A woman or a black guy. Then I wondered: If republicans always come up with white men as candidates anyway, wouldn't it make sense to bring up a "perfect" minority candidate? Someone who would please all minorities?

And then the idea was born. So I wondered... what would that perfect candidate have to be in order to not leave anyone feeling left out? First of all, the candidate would have to be:

  • Female
  • Black
  • Lesbian

But then I thought: No, that's not good enough. Female is okay, but in terms of gender, there are subcategories and sub-minorities that demand attention. So the candidate would have to be female, but an ex-male. Transgender. So whoever the candidate was, she was a man once. Would this drive feminists mad because the only female candidate ever wasn't even born as a woman? Well, this would not be a legitimate complaint because no feminist should bash a woman just because she was born a man and wanted to be a woman. Checkmate!

Next up: The race issue. Okay, a black candidate would make sense, because black people are the biggest group of racial minorities in the USA, so they need a voice. But on the other hand: There are other minorities that need to be taken care of. We also long for the first Asian American president (Obama doesn't count). So the candidate's parents would have to be Asian. But wait.... one parent would have to be of Mexican origin just to make sure that that group is represented too. So in the end, it would not only have to be genetically clear that there is mixed heritage in the candidate, it would have to be visible, too. A black woman with asian eyes and hispanic facial features. Somehow...

About the lesbian part. That is not enough, either. We need to represent as much sexuality as we can. So bisexuality is a must, with different preferences the candidate can openly discuss. Bisexuality has the advantage that the candidate can change his views about whether she wants to be more with men or women. Everything is possible. And of course, she is open about other types of sexuality as well.

But we can't just settle for these things... there is much more that needs to be covered. How about disabled people? Does the public believe that disabled people can't run for presidency? We must prove them wrong at all costs. And we need to make sure that our candidate fulfills enough criteria. How about blindness? Yes, that's good. Blind people can achieve many things. But we need more. Diabetes? Check. Wheelchair? Check. Multiple disabilities involving trisomy? Check.

Other preferences.... well, vegan, of course. Anything else? I don't know.Oh yes, our candidate must embrace all religions at once. We don't have time for contradictions, just squeeze as many religions into the person as possible. Of course, the religious views have to mix with modern-day science, so everything that science states has to be acknowledged and must be compatible with religious views. Great!

I'm really afraid I missed something, but okay, let's just sum up what we have:

We have a black candidate with Asian and Mexican origins who is transsexual, female, bisexual, blind, bound to a wheelchair, has diabetes, is severely disabled in multiple ways, is vegan and very religious.

Will this be the perfect president who can solve the world's problems? Perhaps not. I don't know if there even is such a person in America or the whole wide world. But I think we should make sure not to believe that someone who does not belong to a minority group automatically wants to oppress minorities. I think it's more about the way the person grew up and how sensitive he or she can be towards issues that affect minority groups. I do admit that it often takes someone who is directly affected to know what the individual perspective of such a person is like. But then, this also means that our politicians have to be more in touch with such people.

If you believe this post was pointless, that's okay too... I don't want to oppress your views and opinions.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

My new blog about weight loss

I have come up with a new experiment. My own blog about dieting and losing weight.

Edit: (Well, I'm not linking to it here because it's obsolete).

It will be interesting to see if I can really attract viewers. So far, my personal blog has only been about my own experience, and I have never cared about actually checking how people find posts on the web.

So now I have something new to do. Since I already lost a lot of weight in my life, I have a lot of experience to share. Let's see what this blog does half a year from now.

Also, there is a German version: Low Carb Diät

It's about all the German stuff like Abnehmen, Gewicht verlieren, Übergewicht, Fettleibigkeit, Gesundheit and all that stuff. So let me continue in German:

Dieser Blog wurde ins Leben gerufen, um Leuten zu helfen, die abnehmen wollen, aber keine Kalorien zählen möchten. Es geht um eine kohlenhydratreduzierte Lebensweise. Also alles, was mit Essen ohne Zucker zu tun hat. Davon sind dann auch Nudeln, Brot, Reis und Pommes betroffen. Natürlich und ganz klar auch Süßigkeiten. Wir essen zu viel von dem Zeug, und das muss nun endlich vorbei sein.

Mit der Anleitung, die auf dieser Internetseite steht, kann man gut abnehmen. Die Regeln für den Gewichtsverlust sind klar erläutert, und wer sich daran hält und nicht aufgibt, verliert viel Gewicht. Also los!

And of course, one website always stands out for its excellence: Starkcorner

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Video Games: To The Moon

It's probably weird to write a review about a game I haven't even played. I only watched a "let's play" of it on youtube, but I would still like to talk about it because it's a very good game. It's very emotional and has a dense, complex story. In the end, it leaves you in a very sentimental state of mind.

The story goes like this: A company is able to alter the memories of people (like a mix between Total Recall and Inception). The service of having your memories changed can be ordered by people who are about to die so that they will die with the feeling that they had a rich life with all their dreams and ambitions achieved, as opposed to what really happened in their lives (which will be forgotten).

Eva and Neil are the main characters in the game. They work for the company and drive to an old man's house. The man is about to die, his last wish is that his memories are to be rewritten so that he will get "to the moon". He is asked why it is his lifetime wish to get to the moon, because as part of the "inception", it would help to know. But he doesn't know, he only knows he wants to go to the moon.

Eva and Neil bring their devices into the house. The technical part comes then: They enter the mind of their customer, whose name is Johnny, and need to navigate their way deep into his subconscious mind. In order to change his memories, they need to implant an idea into his oldest childhood memories so that he will relive his memories as a child, wanting to become an astronaut throughout his entire, relived life.
To get to his childhood, Eva and Neil have to hop from one memory to the next, progressing further into the past. They need to find clues after clues to trigger Johnny to remember his memories back and back into childhood. On the way there, they also get to know his story. He was married to a woman named River, who died from a terminal illness. Memories of the wedding can be seen, and many romantic and touching moments are in these memories.

Before River dies, she wishes that Johnney completes building their house instead of paying her medical bills, as they can't pay for both. It is unclear why, because the only reason River wants the house to be built seems to be her emotional attachment towards the lighthouse that is located nearby the site where their house is being built. Johnny does not want his wife to die, but in the end, he respects her wish.

Further down the past, it becomes clear that the lighthouse played a big role in their lives. They often met their when they were younger and also got married at the lighthouse.

River shows some strange behaviour and doesn't seem to be able to express her feelings. It is later revealed that she is suffering from a condition. River's sister has the same condition, but her advantage is that the condition was diagnosed when she was a child, so she was able to adapt to it. It's clear that they are talking about Asperger's syndrome, a form of authism, although it is never mentioned directly.

Neil and Eva find out about how Johnny went to school with River, and how they went out on a date in the cinema. But when they reach his childhood and try to implant his wish to become an astronaut, things start to go wrong. When they travel back to his most recent memory, they find out that nothing has changed at all - Johnny lived the same exact life as he actually really did.

Neil goes back to reality and calls his company to investigate what could have gone wrong while Johnny's health gets worse. The phone call reveals that everything is okay with the equipment, but important information about Johnny's past was not given to Neil and Eva. Johnny had taken medication as a child that had made him forget some memories, and now these memories are either gone or hidden deep in his mind.

After their return to the mind world, Neil and Eva find a link to earlier childhood memories. They find out that Johnny had a twin brother who was accidentally killed by his mother's car when leaving the house. Johnny's mother then gave him medication to make him forget this trauma. But something even more important comes to light: The same year the accident occured, Johnny met River at a carnival near the lighthouse. It was their first meeting ever and they were still young children. River tells Johnny about her love for the stars and how she believes that every star is a lighthouse that's trying to communicate with other lighthouses. 
They later agree to meet up the following year, when the next carnival starts. River asks Johnny what happens if he forgets or doesn't make it, and he says "then we will meet up on the moon".

Now it is clear that Johnny wants to go to the moon because of his forgotten memory. He misses his dead wife and subconsciously knows that he wanted to meet her on the moon to see her again.

This is where things really get ethically difficult. Neil and Eva were ordered to make Johnny wish to go to the moon, and they must fulfill that mission. However, if they implant this idea in his memory now, it will mean that he will forget everything he ever had in his life and that fake memories of him going to the moon will overwrite the cherished memories of his marriage with River, for whom he actually wants to go to the moon.

Neil is very reluctant and wants to stop Eva, believing that Johnny would never have wanted to have his memories erased for the wrong reasons, but Eva goes on with the plan and totally messes up Johnny's memories. Suddenly, all the memories are all over the place, which can be seen by pieces of dialogue from the wedding and other important dates being mentioned in out-of-context situations like in the classroom where they had lessons. Eva changes many aspects of Johnny's life, including the survival of his twin brother who is now part of his fake memories.

The memory in which Johnny asks River out on a date in school is removed. Thus, they never meet in the cinema, never get to know each other and don't get married. Johnny, now eager to go to the moon, follows his ambitions until he gets to NASA. 

In a sudden turn of events, River appears at NASA too, having made it into the recruit program just like Johnny. So they actually do meet up again to get to the moon. As the rocket is launched into the sky and both of them hold hands, Johnny, in reality, dies in his bed.

And that's the story in a nutshell. Actually, it is more complex than that if you watch it on youtube. I think the game has such an emotional effect on the player / viewer because of the implied effects that the decisions will have and the importance of memories.

Johnny basically had a good life that only ended sadly because his wife died, and he is filled with regrets because she wanted to give up her life for a lighthouse. He also forgot the first time he met River, which River feels bad about but can't express in words because of her mental problems.

When he is about to die, he only has a very rudimentary desire to go to the moon, and he is not able to comprehend the consequences of his decision to ask for an alteration of his memory. It is only by luck (and maybe the faith he would meet his wife again) that the fake memory actually turns out to give his life the happy ending he hoped for. Otherwise, the story could have gone wrong and all the love that existed between him and his wife would have been like the sound a falling tree makes that nobody is there to hear.

And this is also one of the things the story tells us. Memories are important. What is the meaning of a true love story if there is no one to remember the story? Is it enough that people loved each other? That it was real? It's actually hard to answer. I'm sure many people had great lives and memories and what they did was very meaningful, but when they died, all these things just died with them.

The other big question is: What's the worth of reality compared to a dream? It's questions that were raised also by Inception, Matrix or Total Recall. Where do you draw the line between reality and fiction? When is suffering in real life so hard that you would actually live a dream, even if everything is fake? When is it right to accept the burdens of real life, just to know that what you did all your life is at least what really happened? Would you rather live the perfect life that wasn't real and forget what really was, or would you take the pain and keep your real memories?

Then, one last thing that the game teaches, is to appreciate what we have. And that is maybe the deepest, most touching lesson the game has in store. Even when his wife is gone, it is important that he remembers her until he dies. In the game, he does that in both versions of his memory, his real memories, and later the rewritten memories with a different career.

For a game that has the graphics of what could have been a 90s game, that was a very, very impressive game. I recommend watching PewDiePie's 15-part video series about "To The Moon" to witness the story. It only comes across well if you see it for yourself. The music is also very fitting.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The way we handle money

I nearly missed this month's post, but here it is. I noticed quite a long time ago that people in my country (Germany) are very conservative with their money-saving methods. Note that I am not talking about what to do with the money, just how to save it.
Germans have no problem wasting money on parties, alcohol and cigarettes, which shows that they are not so afraid of having no last resort for bad times. On the other hand, they are absolutely unwilling to take the slightest risk when it comes to money management.

The most popular saving method is the so called "Sparbuch", a bank account with very low interest rates. It was made popular from very childhood on in my case. You get a small booklet with empty pages in it, only the first page shows your current bank balance. You could go to the bank and bring your pocket money there, and thus save money again and again. As a child, it had a good effect on you because you could see your money grow.

Germans are happy when they see that there money is safe in a cruel world full of corrupted and evil people who are after our money (Greeks, Portuguese etc. - just kidding). The people believe that stocks or bonds are only for experts. They especially believe that stocks, in general, are always "risky". They don't put this term "risk" into any relation, it's just a label as in "dead" or "pregnant". You can't be a little dead or a little pregnant, and the same goes for stocks, they assume. They are risky. Period.

They don't know that inflation actually is a risk too. I saw the news today and it was mentioned that prices for common goods like milk, eggs or fruits rose by more than 5 per cent, which means that they same money you had one year ago could buy you a lot more of these things than it does today.

But people here don't see that. They are happy to have gotten 1,25 per cent on their savings, because technically, the numbers on their bank account are bigger than before. They don't realise that the money has less power to buy them stuff.

I also noticed from trading stocks for a over a year that, even with a very conservative strategy, it is quite easy to get a profit of 5 per cent per year, if you use dividends. It doesn't even require any time once you picked your favourite stocks. And it's one of the less risky ways. But then we have the other problem again: Germans like to spend money uselessly. And when it comes to their savings, they will like to get that invested money back to buy a car or a house. Then they are surprised if the stock price is low, and will have lost a lot of money when they get the money back from selling at the "I need my money NOW!" moment.

And now let's go back to the good old Sparbuch. Its money is available all the time, they can take all the money out of the account at any time. Maybe that's why Germans don't like to be adventurous about money.

I am actually quite shocked to see that my intellect has made me capable of beating an average German's annual profit in less than an hour. I don't think of myself as a genius, and sometimes I think that maybe I'm not clever for probably not noticing something (that's the "it's too good to be true" feeling).

Well, it's also good that there are many mindless idiots out there because as long as I can exploit the flaws of the system, there is more money for me to be made... hahaha.

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

The stubborn management of groceries

In today's business world with all the competition, new products and demanding customers, a company has to do more than just sell its goods to survive on the market.

However, there are some industries that just sit on their asses and tell the customer to take what they offer or leave. Usually, this would apply to a company that has a monopoly status. But it also goes for grocery businesses.

I will show you one example of this. In the below picture, you will see products of the "Knorr" brand. Knorr offers different sauces, spice mixtures and the like.

As you can see, all the bottles are red. That is quite strange, because I am looking for a garlic sauce, which is white. My first impression when I see these red bottles is that they must be sold out, which leaves me in a feeling of disappointment and dissatisfaction, knowing that the grocery should make sure there is enough available.

Of course, I am not stupid, so I check again, and what do I see behind the red bottles?

Yes, many white bottles are behind and below the red bottles. The reason why they are hard to see in the picture is that you, as a reader of my blog, understand how well the bottles are hidden.

This allows us some conclusions about the grocery store's management:

-the grocery either does not know or does not care that some products are not visible to the potential customer
-the grocery expects the customer to buy what is visible or accepts the possiblity of making less money than possible

I have seen this with other products. One example is yogurt. There are big cans of yogurt in groceries, and some of them come with vanilla, strawberry, straciatella or maracuja taste.
One thing I noticed is that customers always go for the vanilla first, then maracuja, and if nothing else is left than some of them will still buy straciatella. But nobody will EVER buy strawberry! NEVER!

What do the groceries do then? You want to know? They do nothing! They won't restock their goods for weeks. And when they eventually refill the empty spaces in the fridge, it will all be full of strawberry yogurt. Once in a while, they will properly restock everything, but then it's again all equal, which means: strawberry will still be there in vast quantities.

So the grocery is saying to you:

"Come on, you gotta try the other one for a change!"

"Please buy something else, our purchasing assistant accidentally ordered 100 000 instead of 100 units".

"You want to eat? Well, today is humility week. We only sell a limited number of products to remind you of the starvation in Africa".

"If you're hungry enough to come to our grocery, and lazy enough not to go to a different grocery after this, you're going to be okay with the little we offer to you".

Also, please remember that I've really tried hard to understand the logic behind this. I thought: There has to be SOME kind of reason for this policy. Some kind of supply and demand law that I'm missing out on here. But I just couldn't come up with anything. I mean, the bottles will still be bottles and the cans will still be cans, and what's inside them is up to the people who produce them. 

And then I thought: Who in the production chain is being stubborn. Is it the producer who says "we are only supplying ALL of our taste variations to you - strawberry, vanilla etc." or is it the grocery that says "we are only ordering the same shit every week and it's the customer's problem if he has to pick a different sort"?

In the end, it does not seem to matter. I won't buy anything though. I only buy what I want. But I guess, at least in Germany, groceries will still be satisfied if their customers buy something out of frustration than out of their own desire.

I would really like to know what it's like in other countries. Comments are welcome.

Thursday, May 09, 2013

The "baby dies in heated car" season has started

Every year, even without actively looking for such things, I read or hear about cases of people who leave their children in the car when it's hot. And the children die.

This year, it started in Sweden, and it already happened now, in May. A father "forgot" his child in his car and when he realised he had "forgotten" the baby, the baby was dead.

Waiting for these sorts of news is like waiting for the "amen" in the church: It's going to happen. You can count on it.

I don't understand what's there to "forget". I don't actually believe that you can "forget" your child in the car. You either take your child with you and accept that it's a little inconvenient when you want to buy a pack of cigarettes or meet some friends in a bar, or you deliberately leave the child behind because "it's going to be okay" for just 5 minutes....

"Forgetting" your child is like forgetting your groceries in the car when you come home from the super market. It never happened to me that I later came back to find all the cheese and chocolate dripping from the  seats. I don't know if it happens to other people, but I usually take everything that belongs to me out of the car and into the house. And I'm only talking about things that don't make sounds, don't breathe and don't have a specific seat in the car reserved to them.

I mean: When you have a child, it has become routine to take the baby into and out of the car... just like turning the key, applying the seat belt, and so on. Don't tell me about "forgetting"... these people should forget to breathe and see what happens then.

Other avoidable and plainly stupid deaths include:

-driving over your own child in a garage or at a parking lot
-killing your new-born child because you don't want children (there is such a thing as adoption in many countries)
-washing machine killings
-letting your child play near the street while carelessly talking to neighbours

We are going to hear some more news in the months to come. The summer is still young and stupidity never dies.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Video Games: Another World

This game was the most shocking game of my childhood. It was also one of the first games I played on the Mega Drive / Genesis made by Sega. I got one in 1993, I believe. The game had pretty good graphics for the time because of the technology used.

The game was made by the same production company that also made Flashback. But as opposed to Flashback, Another world, also known as Out of this World, is a very dark game with a hopeless and cold environment.

Even the intro is very dark and gloomy.

You are a scientist who is transported to another dimension by an accident during an experiment. You suddenly find yourself underwater. Immediately, you must swim for your life because something wants to kill you. Once you get out of the water, you inspect your surroundings and find strange snails. As a child, you are curious what these snails are and you come closer... big mistake. They sting you and you die.

You start over and try again. You learn that you can kick the snails to death and move on. But be careful, because some snails drop from the rock ceiling and land in front of you, being able to kill you.

You move on and find a small cave... suddenly, a big creature appears. I always called this a hellhound when I was young. Well... you panic and get eaten.

You start over again. Now you know there will be a monster in your way. So you try to prepare yourself. The monster appears. You run for your life...

This is how the game keeps going. Later, there will be hostile aliens who capture you, you get a gun, and every time you make a mistake, you die. When you get shot, only your sceleton remains. It's best if you just watch the video.

I don't remember how I finished this game. The good thing is it has passwords. I do remember that many parts of the game were very difficult. There were even riddles. There was also a lot of action. And many scary moments.

In the end, you barely survive. You have a friend who is also an alien and who has saved your ass many times. Badly injured, he flies off with you on a dragon. The future is uncertain, just like in Flashback.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Video Games: Top Gear Rally

Imagine a world where every race driver is fired if he doesn't score in one race. In Formula 1, this would mean that 12 drivers would be fired after each race, even reigning world champions.

Imagine a world where you actually go faster in a curve if you smash into the guardrail than to brake and steer into the curve.

This world exists... in video games. And one of these games is Top Gear Rally for the Nintendo 64!

Why did I choose to talk about this game? I chose it because it is the only game I know that caused my brother a real nervous breakdown. I am not kidding. A real nervous breakdown! My mother and I thought he was close to a heart attack. I have never seen anything like that before and after.

The game starts off well and looks promising: You can choose different cars and even paint them the way you want to. As I have explained in earlier posts, customization makes games more interesting because of the personal aspect that it brings into the game.

Then you start to drive, and even there, things look good at first. The various tracks all look different, with hidden short cuts and everything. You make mistakes that you have to learn from, it's the way it is.

Then, after you got used to everything and achieved your first good results, you try the championship mode. It consists of several seasons that you have to go through. The seasons get more difficult each time, and the team expects you to do better season after season. The flaw comes over time. The game gets extremely difficult and you need a certain score to meet the team's expecations.

Sometimes, you finish 2nd in a race but you are not sure if the result is good enough, because the race after, you know you have to finish well, too. And you are not sure if your next race will go as well as you hoped. So the question is, do you restart the race that you were 2nd in, or do you continue?

The most fatal thing is that you only have a limited number of attempts to do all this. You can't continue or retry forever. And the whole championship mode is a pyramid of races and seasons that lead either to total victory or total game over. Which means that, after spending hours of playing the game, you might just not be good enough and all your efforts turn out to have been in vain.

This is where things went bad for my brother. He had been racing well and maybe even won season after season, but at some point, the requirements are too difficult. He has to retry again, and again. But the pressure gets bigger because at some point, the game is over.

And my brother tried really hard. Then, one day, he was screaming and breathing very, very heavily. He was close to crying but did not cry because he was too angry. Wow... But the way he breathed and talked, that was insane. And that was when I noticed what a nervous breakdown looks like.

I don't remember if he played the game again. But one thing is for certain: Top Gear Rally deserves a "special" place in my own video gaming history. And it's not a place to be very proud of, from the developers' point of view.

Monday, February 04, 2013

My 200th post: Nerve-wrecking

Blogger tells me this is my 200th post. Well, congrats to myself, and now we move on.

Today will be more serious than previous posts, and nothing satirical or about video games.

I don't know why, but I like dramatic stories about real life incidents. Stories, articles or documentaries about murder, UFOs, accidents and incidents, political affairs, mysterious events, survival stories. It thrills me when a movie is not just totally fiction but actually based on something that really happened. And sometimes I enjoy a documentary about a real life event more than a hollywood movie worth millions that is about stuff that doesn't exist.

And here is something I had not come across for a long time, and don't ask me why. I don't remember exactly if I hadn't heard about the movie in the first place or if I had just not been able to take note of it because of work. But when I was reading through wikipedia (a good source for my above-mentioned interests), I came across "Into the wild", which led my attention to another movie, "127 hours".

Now, the special thing is: I do remember very well reading about the real story that happened 10 years ago (read about it online if you haven't). It was all over the news and I checked the internet more than once, trying to read more about it. But when it comes down to it, it was all just some images in my head I made up and the name "Aron Ralston".
Back then when it was only written words on the screen, I thought he got caught out in the open, between a wall and a rock, but still in the open, far desert. I did not know he was caught in a very limited space. And there were many more things I did not know. That he filmed himself in his desperate situation. That a short part of that video is on youtube. And more...

When you read on the news in 2003 that someone cut off his own arm because his arm was trapped in a canyon wall and he was about to die, you read these things and think to yourself:"man... that must be so painful, cutting through the arm... oh well". And then that's it. You know it hurts more than a toothache, and you know it takes a lot of spirit to even make that decision. But you don't understand the real pain.

Now that I have finally watched the movie, I know what it was really like. Sort of. And maybe my view of things is subjective because I only watched the movie some days ago, I still believe it is one of the movies that got to me more than most other movies. I sat there grinding my teeth and shit. It's hard to really describe what makes the movie special. But the most important thing that keeps coming back into my head is: It really happened! Damn! I can't believe it happened.

I don't categorize this movie as "a good movie" like I would say that "Terminator 2" is a good movie. That's not my main concern with the movie, although I like it. It's the utter shock I get from knowing this really happened. So this is more like 9/11 than a movie... it's shocking, you watch it in a video format, but it's more a real event than it is a movie.

Other people on the internet described it well: If Tom Hanks had not escaped from the island in "Castaway", he would still be Tom Hanks. But Aron Ralston was really trapped and there was no other way of living for him. Damn!

Here is what he was faced with:

-Chilling cold at night
-Drinking your own urine
-Extreme boredom for 5 long days (IMAGINE that!)
-Having to watch your own hand die off and decompose
-Despair from knowing that you did not tell anyone where you were going
-Being unable to comfortably sit or sleep for 5 days
-Being forced to figure out a way to survive when the most promising way of surviving is amputation
-Choosing between heavy pain and death
-Uncertainty about survival after a possible painful amputation

And then, when he decided to actually amputate his arm:

-Learning that the tools for severing your arm are not good enough
-Having to break your bones
-Having to cut the nerves
-Having to cut through the rest of your arm, hoping everything will get loose at the right spot

Even after cutting his arm off, several things were bad:

-He could still die of blood loss
-He could still die of starvation
-He could still die of thirst
-He could still fall from a cliff
-He could remain trapped within the canyon

Even if I was skilled and courageous enough to cut off my own arm, would I be able to do so if I was not even sure I'd make it out alive?
You have to imagine what his chances of survival were. He went through the most intense pain imaginable only to have such slim chances of survival. In moments like these, you are wondering whether it's not better to just give up.

This guy was eventually so badass that he even photographed the rock that crushed his arm AFTER amputating his arm!

Why am I still so shocked? This is why:

-You ask yourself the question "What would I do?" again and again
-You are shocked about the physical and emotional pain he had to go through
-He cut through his nerve!
-It REALLY happened!

When you watch a war movie, you know many people died and it's sad. But as Stalin said (not a nice person to quote), a single death is a tragedy and a million deaths is just a statistic.
You also know that in war, there is a good chance you die quickly. And apart from that, so many years after a war, you are a little bit used to all these war stories and they don't get to you.

But here: It could happen to you. Really. I can imagine it very, very well. It's just an unlucky situation. Stupid, of course, but it can still happen. And it did happen.

I can still see in my mind how actor James Franco cut through the nerve in the movie. They showed this scene well, with a distortion sound that goes deep into your bones. Without coming close to the real pain, I could feel the pain somehow... and I was there in the narrow canyon, in my mind. 

Of course I respect the guy who went through this. But my main fascination with the story is not about what a great person he is, so I'm not a worshipper here. My main point is: What is a human being really capable of, and how unbelievable is that and how "against all odds" was this story?

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Journalism: The job for people who are not good at numbers

The internet portal can't even get numbers right. In an article about an unemployed American person who won the lottery, they always said that he won one million dollars. Everything went well in the article until the stupid author actually decided to type "one million dollars" with numbers. Ouch... you can see the result here:

Every millionaire would be jealous. But well, what's the big difference between a million and a billion. He might as well have won a bigillion.

Another section at the website is the motorsport section. It is often updated, so you get a lot of news about motorsport that go beyond formula one. The only thing that is not updated is the main page itself, in some way.

Do I get this right? It's already 2013 and the website still talks about its motorsport section as being "2011"?
I would excuse this if it was a private website with only a few clicks (like mine). But this thing here gets millions of clicks/views a month, and people get paid well to do their job.

Some people check balance sheets, others check machines, and yet others check feet, whiskey and stuff like that. Maybe employees should check less whiskey and check back on their own web content a little more often.