Wet Dreams

Sorry that you opened this post expecting to read some adult content. I have to tell you right away you wont find what you expect, unless you are interested in psychology, in particular in the archetypical fear that I occasionally experience. I indeed talk about fear, rather than anxiety, even though anxiety is a more common issue in psychology or psychatric disporders. I am probably anything else than a candidate for a psychatric studie, and the fact that I am to clearly describe and evaluate how a rather surreal fear can take hold of me is perhaps the best evidence for this. Anxiety is something very common here in Germany (“German Angst”), and right now several proponents of radical political changes misuse the susceptibility of the German population for diffuse anxieties.

But fear is by definition something specific, related to a particular object. In my case this object is the base for all life: WATER. And there comes the wet dreams into play, which I will describe shortly. But to write in a chronological order, I have to start with something that struck me half an hour ago.

Sitting in my office and doing some correction work on a students thesis I suddenly felt an unpleasant sensation. Goose bumps, muscle stiffness, cold sweat, and a feeling of unsafety amidst my most common work environment (and despite a supermodern electronic entrance security system which our research centers management has recently installed). So where came this irrational feeling of discomfort from ?  Outside the office there was apparently just the usual noise of people talking about institutes issues, roaring coffee machines, slapping doors, high heeled technicians strutting along the hallway. Nothing special. Except there was occasionally a silent splatter sound. This was new, and perhaps it would have got completely unrecognized, unless one has a particular high sensitivity for it. It appeared that the cleaning personal used a new kind of wet cloth today to wipe the floor. And when they rinsed this wet cloth in a water bucket, it made this typical splattering noise, as if you pure water from a cup into a filled bathtube.  I can not blame the poor cleaning guy for intentionally causing unpleasant sensations on me. Of course his biggest concern was to keep the institute in a tidy condition, which most people consider of uttermost importance for their personal well being.

But in this particular case I seem to be the collateral victim of his cleaning work. Don’t get me wrong, I usually like splattering water. I like to take a shower, watch water fountains, jump from the highest diving tower into unknown waters or irrigate the garden and careless dogs or people with a water hose. But I hate water that is floating around, uncontrolled and occupying areas that should be dry.

Therefore, the worst pictures that I saw in the news recently were the flooded streets, houses and basements in Huston/Tx. The number of casualities after the hurrican Harvey was not very high, but the pictures made it deep into the very ancient areas of my mind (brainstem and amygdala). Simply the imagination of water that rises more and more, that can not be stopped worries me much more than the imagination of a fire, an earthquake or an avelanche, all of which are usually more life threatening than a flooding (unless you go to the extremes of a tsunami).

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Huston/Texas after the August 2017 flooding by hurrican Harvey

I discovered a long time ago that there must be an archetypical fear deeply written in my inconscious memory, a fear of rising and floating water. This is when I have “Wet Dreams”, which I should better call “Wet Nightmares” (but “Wet Dreams” definitely attract much more traffic to my blog). Dreams in which I wade through some centimeters of water in our house or appartment, where the water comes from some cracked pipes or a defunct washing machine, when the “basis of all living matter” simply follows the laws of gravity and quickly soaks all floors and walls down to the basement, eager to find a tiny gap through which it can leak further down into the unknown, such visions make me sweating cold and can temporarily undermine my universal convidence in the general harmony of the universe.

And of course, in the long term, I will be right. The Texas flooding after hurrican Harvey will dry again, and even from the mythological flood described in the Epic of Gilgamesh (and later transcribe into the old testament) little is to be seen nowadays except of beautiful beaches and peaceful orchestrated waves. According to archaeologists Ryan and Pitman the great deluge happened at around 5600 AD in the Black Sea basin.  And I can not imagine a time that gives me more “peace of mind” than sitting there on the beach, observing how well behaving the water is that splatters around my feet, reading a book and thinking 7617 years back in time, when the torrents broke through the bosphorus and turned a former sweet water epicontinental lake into what is today the Black Sea.

At the Black Sea coast, near Varna/Bulgaria. 7617 years ago the great deluge happened right here.

Of course my peace of mind can only be spoiled if somewhere behind me an unlocalized sound of splatter happens. But this in fact might come from some other tourists, who can not sit there quietly, watch the sea, read a book, drink a cocktail, but who have to start some water construction work.

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Macho man on the beach can not stop to reshape the landscape. Or are they also afraid of flooding water ?

Balkan revisited

Stereotypes use to reproduce themselves with almost the same regularity as the ignorance against the objects of these stereotypes increases. The Balkan region of South-eastern Europe is one such example. In the expectations of many westerners, Balkan countries are synonymous with corruption, failing nations, centuries of civil war, and headache by to much of low quality spirits.
For the Britons was the prospect of having more countries from the Balkan peninsula in the EU reason enough to leave the union all together. And if you tell someone from Croatia, Romania or Greece how much you like the Balkanesque wildness of their countries, you might be lucky if be entitled persona-non-grata there. And for Germans and Austrians it was the Balkan conflict that started the mother of all disasters in their history, the first World War.
To my knowledge there is only one country that takes this stereotype as a challenge and is trying to exploit the undeniable, instead of faking the facts. Bulgaria, in fact is in the very center of the Balkan peninsula. And like the eye of the hurricane is always a very quiet spot surrounded by devastating storms on the periphery harbours Bulgaria in its West-Eastern perimeter the most picturesque mountains that gave the whole region its name (Balkan mountains, locally called Stara Planina or historically Hemus).

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But despite this geographically very prominent role of Bulgaria didn’t it fit much of the bad connotations of a Balkan countries: Neither was it involved in any nationalistic segregational movements, nor had it any issues with religious heterogeneity.  It used to absorb people from other countries who were expelled as a result of civil war (like Russian aristocrats after the revolution) or genocide (like the turkish Armenians). During the time of fascism, the Bulgarian people successfully resisted the request of the german occupants to deport the sephardic jewish population. In gratitude of this, Israeli survivors of the Holocaust recently honoured this courage by erecting a monument in the form of a jewish shoufa in the city of Varna.

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The city of Varna has more reasons to look with great pride on its history. The eldest European civilizations left evidence of their early agricultural communities here (in Ezerovo and Debna), where rich burial sites were excavated that contained the earliest man-made golden artefacts.

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It is a tragedy, and here maybe indeed reminiscent of Balkanesque  indifference, that these two sites of prehistoric settlements (dating back to ca. 5000 AD) is hidden now and partly demolished under a socialist-era chemical plant.

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For archaeologic sites that link Bulgaria to the Roman history (when it was the province of Thrakia), in particular when they are found in the capital Sofia, the authorities are a bit more careful. The excavation works are done under public observation behind transparent walls.

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But to makes aware that we are really in the middle of the Balkan region we can find here (on the railway between Varna and Sofia) the only trainstation worlwide that is simply called Balkan.

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Fading hostility

On way from the railway station in Lakatnik to our cottage on the feet of the Balkan mountains we always pass two premisses that stand side on side to each other, but are seperated by a barbwired fence. To the family on the left side, Iwan and Koprinka and their daughters we are frequently invited. Iwan worked most of his life in a nearby Uranium mine, and now suffers from Parkinson disease. The most exciting event in his life was in 1968, when he was recruited to the Bulgarian Peoples Army to help defend the socialist case in Prague against the democratic freedom movement.

Koprinka, his wife, is always makes jokes on him each time Ivan invents a new story about his braveness. She had a good education, but rarely found a way out of the hardships of the village life. Now all the duties lay on her, the work with the garden, the big house, farmland around, and supporting her two daughters. Only when she goes to pastures the goat in the hills, she finds some quiet moments. She usually takes with her a paperback book or a newspaper and dreams away, while her animals pick to most aromatic herbs.

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The house to the right looks almost like a mirror image of Iwan and Koprinkas place, except that the garden is a bit more planned and kept clean, and the attached garage and shed for the equipment looks simply more civilized. This house belongs to Iwans brother Kyrill (“Kirtscho”) and his family. The sad thing is that the two families are bound by a long lasting hostiliy, the neighbors say that the brothers had a legal issue on the land that they inherited from their parents. Property in Bulgaria is traditionally the most important asset of everyone, be it farmland, houses in the countryside, a weekend cottage or an apartment in the city. I have rarely met people somewhere else who are so obsessed with keeping or increasing the real estate property as in Bulgaria. It is quite common that children get their first apartment as a gift when they pass the higher education. And when a boy marries a girl, their biggest concern is not so much the dress or the party or the wedding cake. The biggest issue is how to merge the properties of the two in the best and most profitable manner.

One can easily imagine how complicate things become after a divorce or when property is inherited to several children. Something in the regard must have caused a big dispute between the two brothers, an issue so dramatic and irresolvable that neither of their two families talks to the others. At least this is how it looked untill recently. But now the generation of Iwan and Kirtscho’s grandchildren already grow up. There is Ivailo, the 8 year old son of Iwans daughter Monika, and on the other side of the fence is Nevena, the granddaughter of Kirtscho. These two cousins seem to be pretty resistant to the hostiliy between the parents and grandparents of both family branches. Instead, because on this spot of the village there are not many other kids to play with, so the two seem to use every moment to meet at the two sides of the fence. They don’t look up, so they can’t see the awful barbwire (“botliva tela”), but they only have eyes and ears for each other. They can sit their for hours and entertain each other. They have not heared about the issue of real estate property, and perhaps they think that the high fences between their places are only there to keep away Koprinkas goats from the neighbours cabage plantation, and protect Koprinkas chicken from the neighbors young dogs.

Leave us alone with BDS

Bulgaria always had “Cojones” when it comes to resist antisemitism. During the 2nd world war, despite being an allie of nazi-Germany, it did not allow the deportation of its jewish population.

This year Bulgaria and Israel issued a joint series of post-stamps, which show a storch. The storch on its annual travel from northern Europe to Africa made longer rests in Bulgaria and in Israel. I wished that othet countries of the EU would have such courage to colaborate with Israel.

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Bulgaria was also quick in adopting the Israel invention of drip irrigation.

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Location, location, … lovely location

Location, location, location: that’s what every real estate agent will tell you determines the value of a property. I had to think about this, when we recently saw that our funny, belove dog Ivo (who despite the male-sounding name is a 12 years old lady) had her first sexual intercurse and, so saint ovary will, should soon surprise us with a handful of puppies.

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We wanted her to get pregnant for quite a long time already, because we thought she would enjoy having babies and we wanted to pass her fine genes and exceptionally good health and character to the next generation. But it appeared to be much more difficult than one would think: always when Ivo met a suitable male dog during our walks, they were playing with each other, but as soon as the male expressed a more adult interest in Ivo, she made clear by biting and snarling that she is not easy to conquer. We had the feeling that by to much adopting her to our family she lost any doggy instinct towards other dogs, in particular of the other sex. Could it be that she is a modern personality, and opted to be asexual, or some trans- or contra- or hypo-sexual ?  In fact she frequently attracted quite some attention of other dog owners, when she jumped on their males and exhibited fake movements of sexual intercourse. Maybe she justed wanted to teach them how to do it properly (“but don’t even think of trying this on your teacher, boy !!!!”)

We had almost lost any hope in her reproductive potential, when suddenly 2 weeks ago friends visited us in our garden, to present their newly acquired dog (a male Schnauzer, brought here from Russia). It was not that the 2 fell in love with each other right, Ivo has some other dog-friends in the neighborhood whom she is much more fond of. The young cavalier, however, had the time and place on his side. He caressed Ivo hour after hour, and at the end she could not longer reject his advances. More or less in the center of the party, the two love-drunken dogs did it ” like they do on the Discovery Channel”.

It was quite obvious that what made her so reluctant to mate in the years before was the unsuitable surrounding,  We assumed that, because she is original a street dog, she wont care to much where and when to have sex. Isn’t it a sort of stereotype that even the most fancy breeds with long pedigree tracks and aristocratic names use every chance outside to look for a partner to copulate? How often I have seen dog owners in the park when they helplessly try to pull their dogs away from a situation which already pretty far advanced.

Obviously, for Ivo this was never an option. We did not knew that deep inside she is a lady. She would never do it somewhere out. She considers our house and garden as her cozy empire, and can imagine having sex only here – I guess she is a bid old fashioned. Maybe I should teach her the secret pleasures of making love in the forest, in the corn-field, at night on the beach or on the backseat of a BMW Mini Cooper (at least on the last place, she might also feel at home).

UNFAIR: British Tourists use unfair methods to beat the Germans on the Pool Chair Battle

New study shows that british tourists use oversized and missreplaced towels in an attempt to beat the Germans on the pool chair battle. This is an unfair method (“bad, very bad”) and will soon be stoped.

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British tourists are winning the sunlounger wars in Spain, waking up hours earlier than their rivals to secure a comfortable spot by the pool, an investigation into the habits of holidaymakers in Spain has revealed.

The Daily Mail observed British tourists at a resort in Alcudia, Majorca, who placed their towels on loungers to “reserve” them as early as 6am. One Briton went the extra mile by using a towel with the word “reserved” on it. By 8.51am all of the loungers were taken, but the holidaymakers were nowhere to be seen, Bild wrote.

The newspaper quoted Stephen from Barnsley, who reserved three loungers at the Bellevue Club hotel at 6am. He returned to the pool with his wife and son a full four hours later, ready to enjoy his prize.

“Luckily, I’m an early bird,” he said.

The investigation follows a similar operation last year, when the newspaper visited in Lloret de Mar on the Costa Brava.

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Then, not one tourist had laid down a towel by 7.36am, indicating that the towel wars have intensified in the past 12 months, forcing holidaymakers to wake up even earlier to secure a sunlounger.

Bild said that the Germans and British were the “undisputed masters” of sunbed blocking, though its investigation identified only British sunlounger hogs. Two German tourists quoted, Sabrina and Kai, both teenagers, got there too late. “When we arrived everything was already taken,” Sabrina said.

The paper called on readers to ask hotel management to remove towels because “no one has the right to a reserved lounger”.

The investigation will surprise many British tourists, who complain that Germans usually beat them to the best loungers by waking early.

Cherry pie, foggy nights and mind-blowing melodies

I have to admit that I was attracted to the real location Twin Peaks just by its mythos, long before I watched the 1980s US TV serie myself. It must have been in 2003 or so that I was on a business trip to Lake Tahoe and San Francisco, and during some extra days of privat excursion I decided it would be great to climb the “famous” Twin Peak, which is about 3 miles south of Height Ashbury and in fact a rather un-impressive hill with some TV or mobile phone antennas on top. And of course I firmly believed that this was the spot of a rather famous US TV serie, which I had only heared about, but never watched myself.befde62ffcdd234721ff84d01f6a35dbv1_abs_555x312_b3535db83dc50e27c1bb1392364c95a2

Only about 12 years later when it was aired again I got caught by the intiguing story, the mind catching scenery and the carefully designed characters in David Lynchs masterpiece.

And of course I had to laugh about my own naivety, because the difference could probably not be bigger than between the sun-burn hill under the southern California blue sky, and the dark, mysterious, fog saturated forrests in the TV serial.

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Now it is announced that after 25 years David Lynch, master of modern film surrealism, let us return to the quaint northwestern town, where its inhabitants are stunned when their homecoming queen is murdered. I am seeing forward, not nessesarily to another plain crime movie, but to cherry pie, foggy nights and mind-blowing melodies.

Read more books, live a longer life

Reading good books enriches our lifes. We can share experiences of others, sometimes romantic, sometimes painful, and by spending a few days to read a novel we can jump in other times, in another society and in another personality. Reading books is really a good investment of the short time that is given us in life. But now a new study from Yale University shows that we not only gain knowledge and wisdom from reading fiction books, but that it can directly extend our physical life time.

The study, which is published in the September issue of the journal Social Science & Medicine, looked at the reading patterns of 3,635 people who were 50 or older. On average, book readers were found to live for almost two years longer than non-readers. “When readers were compared to non-readers at 80% mortality (the time it takes 20% of a group to die), non-book readers lived 85 months (7.08 years), whereas book readers lived 108 months (9.00 years) after baseline,” write the researchers. “Thus, reading books provided a 23-month survival advantage.” The paper also specifically links the reading of books, rather than periodicals, to a longer life. “We found that reading books provided a greater benefit than reading newspapers or magazines. We uncovered that this effect is likely because books engage the reader’s mind more – providing more cognitive benefit, and therefore increasing the lifespan,” the authors concluded.

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Although I like the result of this study a lot, and I intuitively strongly believe in their conclusion, from a methodological point of view it suffers from the same shortcommings as many other retrospective social studies. The studies usually analyse questionaires they receive from randomly picked individuals. No doubt, analysing 3, 635 peoples health status and their reading behaviour is a vast amount of work and an association found between the reading habits and health status will be significantly and reproducible.

But what remains to be shown is the causality. I.e. can I increase my life expectancy (or this of my children) if I or if we force ourself to read more books ? And this is not clear, and the Yale study also has no answer to this. In epidemiology there is this well-known phenomenon of “reverse causation”, which in the current studies could also underly the reported association. If one assume that any genetic or epigenetic factor (or a combination of those) improves a persons health status in general (including mental health, but also neuro-sensory fitness such as eye vision), this will independently lead to an incraesed longevity but at the same time also to a higher prefenrence to enrich ones life by reading good books. So these two outcomes of a questionaire, health status/life expectancy and frequency of reading books will automaticly be linked, cause they are influenced strongly by the same underlying inherent factors (genetic composition and epigenetic praegung). So they are clearly linked to each other, but not causing each other.

The only solid prove of a causation of book reading and longevity would be a so-called randomized study (as they are state-of-the-art in clinical trials to test the therapeutic effect of new drug or method). Here, a large number of volunteers have to be recruited, and they assigned to a control and a test group randomly. And these two groups have to follow a defined protocol, whether they liek it or not. The control group should not read books (even if some group members are real book freaks), whereas the members of the test group all should read a defined minimal numbers of books (per month) whether they like books or not. And this study has to be followed over years or decades, of course. One could then do a simple non-parametric test (like Man-Whitney or Wilcoxon) for the attained age at death and could easily found if an intentional increase in book reading helps to extend life span.

I am happy to notice that for me this problem does not exist, since I like to read books quite naturally. Assuming that I am not hampered by other life-shortening factors (such as working as a roof-layer or on a oil-platform or smoking or drinking extensively) I know that I fell in the group of 23 month longer than average live span, whether it is caused by my love to read books or by another congenital factor.

Twenty-three month is really a lot, sondiering that I have already gained 19 extra month by living with our dog Ivo, another 37 month by having a higher education, and another 16 month by living in a stable partnership. Whow, so much extra time, I have to think of how to spend it useful.

I first will read more books, I think. I have recently discovered Gaito Gasdanov, a contemporary writer of Vladimir Nabokov with a great classical writing style. I bought for the coming holiday season:

An Evening with Clair

“The Return of the Buddha “

The Spectr of Alexander Wolf

Social media desaster at Munich rampage

Friday at 5:50 pm Munich fell into a state of chaos after an 18 years old started a shooting orgy at McDonalds Olympia shopping center. He killed 9 innocent people, mainly other teenagers, among them 7 of non-German origin.

It appeared that the gunman (Ali or David Sunboly), born here in Munich as son of Iranian parents was suffering of depression. Police records also indicate that he has been mobbed by his peers and experienced physical violence by other youngsters on several occasions. It is said that he purchased the gun, a 9mm Glock, via the dark net. The weapon had been re-assembled from a defunct one as they are frequently used for theater performances or in the film industry.

The social media failed completely in providing any useful information during the 3-4 hours of the event. More and more shooting cases were erroneously reported from other parts of the city, therefore causing more and more confusion and hysteria on the streets. And instead of circulating essential and useful information of how to find a safe shelter and how to help other people, the social media were overflowed with messages full of speculations of a political, usually an islamistic background. This lead people belive what they all were expecting anyway:  that at the end Germany could be struck by ISIS led terror the same way as Paris. But nothing of all this was true. At the end it appeared that the rampage had more in common  with the Columbine school shootings than with the Boston marathon bombings or the Orlando nightclub shooting. The Munich gunman had not got a political agenda at all, but was seeking revenge for being victimized over years. It is now thought he targeted youngsters of “Turkish and Arab” origin, having claimed those groups had picked on him in school.

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Ali (David) Sonboly, the teenage boy who shot dead 9 people in Munich,and friends and relatives commemorating the victims.

It was only a few weeks before that I had discovered the function of Twitter, when during the 2016 ESC awards and later at the Brexit votum people on a Europe wide scale quickly exchanged their thoughts and comments. In both cases, however instant informaton was mainly a tool for infotainement. But on Friday, electronic information had an essential function for guiding people away from the danger. And here the social media failed completely.

When I called Marina at 6:40 pm, i.e. 50 min after the shooting had started, she was riding in the train through the city center, without knowing anything. For some reasons all public transport (subway, busses, tram) had been stopped right away, apart from trains which were still operating without informing the passengers.

There were thousands of police man and woman, including special riot squads (SEK, GSG 9, austrian Cobra) heading towards Munich city center, because the initial reports mentioned three gunman with automated attack rifles (what was also first communicated via Twitter/Facebook/Whatsapp). At the end it was a single suicide attacker with a 9mm gun, who killed himself 30 min after starting the shooting.

A selfmade video from a tennant nearby the site of the shooting was released the same day. It documents the loud shouting match between the shooter, who was pacing on the top floor of a nearby parking garage, and Thomas Selby, 57, a truck driver who was looking at him from the balcony of his appartment.

Their calls back and forth, including a third person who joined in, are translated here from the German transcript (including explicit words):

Neighbor: “You’re the son of a bitch”

Shooter: “Yes, because of people like you have harassed me for seven years.”

Neighbor: “You’re a son of a damned bitch.”

Shooter: “And now I have to buy a gun in order to shoot you.”

Neighbor: “A gun?  Go fuck yourself, bloody foreigner.”

Shooter: “I’m a German.”

Neighbor: “You’re a son of a bitch,  that’s what you are.”

Shooter: “Stop taking pictures of me.”

Neighbor: “You stupid alien asshole, what are you doing here?”

Shooter: “I was born here.”

Third voice: “shit foreigners.”

Neighbor: “What the hell do you think you’re doing.”

Shooter: “I grew up here in Hartz IV (a social welfare scheme).”

Neighbor: “You’re a son of a bitch, I told you.”

Shooter: “You’re right, you’re right, you’re right.”

Brexiteers and Arsonists

I don’t understand all the emotions around the Brexit. O.k., here we have two or three british politicians, who (as a good and lovely tradition) consider their job as sports activity (well, honestly it is fairly badly paid for this).

So they obviously had a bet (like this one: “What do I get when I ask this marvellous lady for a date ?”), while playing politics in real, not in an Oxford debating society. So everybody was surprised when the marvellous lady agreed to have a date with them late at night in a hotel room. No wonder, now when it gets serious, the three caballeros all lost their courage. How to get out of the trouble, what to tell the lady without upsetting her to much. And what to tell the brave wife at home (aka the EU fellows), where they have been the whole night through ?

The natural solution (with nobody losing its face) would be to call for a early snap election for the house of commons.

If Labour and the LDP are supporting Remain (and blame the Brexit torries and UKIP for putting Scotland at risk), than they will either win (at least in a coalition) or they put the torries so much under pressure that they have to support the Remain as well.

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