Endnotes In A Novel

Bitchin’ and moaning’ never ends. One of the settings for my unfinished novel Engagement is Germany. Being in Germany means there’s no getting around the language. Although I don’t have much trouble speaking German, writing it is another story. I’ll let Mark Twain explain that one to you. Anywho. While working on my book the thought came to me to use endnotes to clarify or translate the German words I was using. But I did this with a little twist. I took the meaning of the words, as I understood them, and not the literal translations. After a while I realized that this was a pretty good idear. Or maybe not.

A few examples taken from my book:

Mittelstand – The heart of German culture and economics from which everything is derived; it could also mean to stand in the middle, in the way of everything.

Sprungbrett – Diving board or jump start in life; does not indicate there is water in the pool.

Gell – A Hessian idiom, sounds great when said while drunk, idiosyncratic interjection.

Fernweh – The want to travel far and see the world; get away from Germany just because you can; if you cant, tough shit.

Köln – The German name of the city of Cologne; a really big filthy village.

München – The German name of Munich; a really big clean village.

Ißjemandzugestiegen – ”Has anybody boarded?” This is what a conductor barks in a train cabin so he can check tickets.

Sperrmüll – The only great thing to ever come out of any socialized system of governance; state sponsored collection of old furniture or bulk trash; very useful after moving or renovating an apartment and coincides with this as a cultural past-time.

Abendbrot – Like the mythical dinner or supper that most American families would like to have but can’t due to the coercive, predetorial capitalism and the mortgage poor lifestyle that has been adopted, the German version has survived; no matter what region you go to in Germany four out of five families basically eat the same dam thing every night.

Langesamstag – One of the trivial reforms to the German system allowing stores to stay open on Saturdays beyond 4:00pm; still closed on Sundays.

Betriebverfassungsgesetz – A dysfunctional anti-capitalism German law protecting and wrongly empowering employees against employers; the laws and regulations behind this are so backwards it could end up being the downfall of the post-WWII German experiment; the you-go-girl of social market economics.

Studiengebuhren – Germans never paid for things like the cold war or financing development of poor countries; part of an estranged and perverted social welfare system to include free education; will only function if wirtschaftswunder economy can produce more value than sucking taxes out of hard working people can consume.

Kaufvertrag  ̧ber ein gebrauchtes Kraftfahrzeug – A contract for selling a used car between private individu- als; perfect example of continental European socialism gone rotten. When a car is sold between private individuals (this is NOT a transaction among vested and liable organizations or companies) a full and detailed contract, where a simple ”bill of sale” would suffice, HAS to be used. Inherent in this contract is the notion that the private seller, selling a USED car at usually extreme discounted prices due to market conditions, is liable for not just the car being sold but for the action of the buyer. The motto here is: if the buyer screws up it’s the seller’s fault.

Rant on.

-tgs-

 

National Does A Judas

Popular = Good Life.

Well, it’s finally come full circle. Da Vinci Snot  the film  has been released. And did you get a shot of that train delivering the privileged few from London to Cannes? Tom Hanks looked overly debonair and Ron Howard, that freaky child actor who was constantly the subject of my spit balls on the TV screen when I was kid, looked so… At least glamour isnt a pre-requisite for showing up at Cannes. And to top it off, I thought the gerbils that were stuck up my ass would come flying out and singing after witnessing that publicity stunt.

For a while I thought that the filming of Dans plagiary would mark the end of this really big and neat-o popularity display. I thought finally I could find some peace from all the imbeciles coming to me with: Tommi, can you explain to me again the story of Mary having to wave through storm and peril while pregnant on her refuge seeking trek on a donkey (the same one JC used, btw) from Jerusalem to Egypt after the crucifixion? Or they would ask: Tommi, could you explain to me again the conflict Jesus had with his disciples, especially that big-war-mongering-assassin-leader-type-guy, Peter? And then there is my favourite: Tommi, tell me again the story of Jesus’ resurrection and who he sees first so as to create a metaphor reincarnating the concept of Adam and Eve and paradise.

You see, it all began in 2004. Da Vinci Snot, the book, was quite popular but I had promised myself a long time ago to avoid certain things because life is too short. One of those things is: Don’t read books that adhere to a formula meant only to sell books. And. Popularity can be the evidence you need in judging whether or not a book is worth reading.

Now don’t get your thongs all in a wilily. I got nothin’ against others reading this krapp. In fact, its a great source of personal entertainment because 1) even though I don’t fan the flames of Schadenfreude, that stuff is really hi-larry-us; and 2) I’m the guy who read almost all the secondary literature Dan Brown stole from.

At this point in my failed life Dan Brown’s plagiarism will go down as a personal highlight since for the first time I can openly share my knowledge and very few among the college educated working class compulsives can come near my intellectual prowess on the subject. People who read Da Vinci Snot see right away when they look at me that I’m a guy who knows more than, goodness forbid, Dan about this subject. But enough about moi.

Irony as truth and justice and…

The other day my lovely girlfriend returned from a business trip. As usual, when she arrives from a hard day of work, I have a bottle of Proseco chilled and am waiting to serve her a glass while asking whether or not she’s had a bad day. She usually responds in the positive – she’s desperately optimistic – and then sips from the glass and I observe how the Italian sparkling wine soothes her lovely but over worked soul. On this day, to my reluctant surprise, she changed the subject to one of my favourites.

“I have something for you,” she said.

Like a kid expecting wonders from a father who travels too much I became overtly excited. I stood back and sipped my whiskey to keep calm. My chick handed me a small paper carton with Neuhaus and Lufthansa written on it. Since she’s on an eternal diet, she brings me the delicious chocolate that business class provides you after paying inflated prices.

“Thank you very much,” I said, putting the chocolate on the counter thinking that she was also the one that wants me to go on a diet.

We continued the small talk regarding her business trip until it bored both of us. Then she realized something.

“I have another gift for you,” she said.

She turned and ran off to the foyer and returned with an English copy of National Geographic with the cover title The Judas Gospel. I had seen the magazine lying around various bookstores. An intellectual like me should have such stuff simply sent to him. Right?

The first thing I asked my chick was if she had paid for the magazine.

“No, I took it from the hotel in London,” she said.

Good.

The next morn, with coffee and toast, I embarked on reading NGs article. My conclusion from a wannabe journalistic point-of-view: the article sucks. My conclusion from a worstwriter’s point of view: the article sucks. The author of this article makes a living at this and I can’t – that should clarify everything. I could have written it better using my toes, finger-paint and stealing pictures from pre-school bible study books. The timeline covering two pages was ok and also the small picture of Judas by Leonardo was nice. But the rest was junk, junk, junk. This is why I stopped reading NG and others like it. Let me give you an example that I’m sure the author came up with all by his lonesome:

The notion of gospels that contradict the canonical four in the New Testament is deeply unsettling to some, as I was reminded at lunch with Meyer at a Washington, D.C., restaurant. Brimming with enthusiasm, the ebullient academic polished off a plate of chicken salad while discoursing non-stop on the beliefs in the Judas gospel. This is really exciting, he exclaimed. This explains why Judas is singled out by Jesus as the best of the disciples. The others didn’t get it.

The lunch time crowd had emptied out, and we were alone in the restaurant, deep in the second century A.D. when the maitre’d hesitantly handed Meyer a note. It read simply, God spoke a book. The cryptic message had been called in anonymously, with instructions that it be delivered immediately to the diner who had ordered chicken salad. Someone seated nearby had apparently thought Meyer was casting doubt on the Bible as the word of God.

Excuse me for a moment while I write and express my frustration in French: What the fuck does the author of this article – and tried and true “journalist” – think he’s writing about? Back to English: Isn’t this article supposed to be about a historical find?

Ok. What are we dealing with here? This is an article about an old document. You don’t have to sell me that. Just write me something interesting about it. Interesting doesn’t equate with popular. Interesting in this context is facts and research.

Anyone see the irony here? NG releases its May 2006 issue to correspond with the release of Da Vinci Snot. And thats fine. Get on the band wagon. But NG has had the Judas document for… how many years now? Ok, I’m down with this increase your numbers kinda thing – but then to have the author, Mr. Andrew Cockburn, include the above mentioned passage? What the hell for? Oh yeah, because, according to popularity statistics, the compulsive workforce, especially the higher academics, will think its cute.

National Geographic  you suck.

Its not enough that the moguls of media rule the collective imagination of useless eaters and compulsive labourers. But now, in all walks of print and publishing, the same shit gets regurgitated over and over and over and over – independent of the context so the creators of this krapp can look cute. Cute equals popular. Da Vinci Snot is bad enough with its conspiring innuendo and silly mockery of albinos and written at the same level as pre-school bible study picture books. But when a half-witted journalist thinks while typing an article about a significant historical find: Hey, why not put a little Da Vinci in there somewhere…

Man, when will this end?

If this is what the compulsives of this world want, then who am I to judge. But when a journalist tries to copy the same shit that another pop author already copied, well, I’m a bit at wits end here. If this continues then my fear that the world can only get stupider is coming true. Dan Brown, with his wife hidden behind a curtain and his publisher sucking cocktails in Barbados, will probably receive an academy award, a Pulitzer and Nobel Prize. He will then run for public office as a republican in the US northeast and eventually win the presidency by a very small majority because he has promised lower taxes and fuel efficient hotrods and and and and…

Yeah. Let’s all really get into not what Judas could have been but what he actually did. We do it to each other every day of our lives. So, like Donna Summer sings, Lets Dance. Lets do the Judas…

Rant on.

tgs

 

HP Scanners Sucks As Do The Mice

Remember the days when hitting the key combination ctrl+s saved your ass and the work you were hacking into your computer? I’m talking 1982, here. Well, for whatever reason, today I forgot what the concept of ctrl+s means. This is attributable to one of two things: drink or laziness. Let me repeat: I forgot the concept of the key combination; I did not forget the key combination. After working on something for a few hours I mistakenly, thinking I was managing data, threw away all my work. Stupid mishap on my part? Just hold a sec, please.

I am one who switched from Mac to PC a few years back. (Stop laughing.) I did so out of need. I needed to save money on next purchase of a PC. Also. There’s the class fighting, anarchy-thing going on in my mind that has something to with protecting humanity from the abuse of all this industrialization and technology. Seriously. Our protection is only a mouse movement away or a click of the left button. Life and everything in it sucks. I yearn for the days and clarity of the past – oh, what suffrage. Wait. Where was I?

When the PC first started making the rounds it was required that a person know a few basics about it. These basics had nothing to do with the inner workings of the device, nor did they have to do with programming or understanding of software. The basics were:

  • Only put something into it that you’re willing to lose.
  • ctrl+alt+del.
  • More than half of that which gives a PC functionality is superficial and only there to make you pay more for hardware.
  • There is no such thing as software; PCs are driven by atomically small mice sent here from the edge of the galaxy.
  • You buy software so that hardware can be made. Its never the other way around. Hardware is the last of the three human inventions. The other two inventions were the wheel and the pencil.
  • A pencil can do the same thing as a PC.

The PC almost died in the mid to late eighties. Think IBM PC-junior and green or yellow monochrome screens. It was obvious, if this was to be the last of the three allowed human inventions, it couldn’t be allowed to just die out. One day while all the geeks were panicking someone came up with a really cool idea: connect the devices giving Sheople the capacity to move beyond their putrid and trite existence. Also add a little color to make it more like a TV – we know what that’s done to humanity. All said and done. It worked perfectly. The scary thing is we are still in the infantile stages of it all. Hopefully the herder of the universe, who tolerates the three inventions, will protect the Sheople who have obviously gone astray. But thats another post.

Where do I get this all this about hardware and software and the three inventions? Well, does no one else think about why everything is broken in our lives?

As I said, today I lost data and I’m really ticked off. I have millions of words written either with a pencil or a typewriter and for some strange reason I’m a little paranoid about losing it all. If you’ve read any of this weblog then you know this is my way of fighting back. If no publisher wants me or no lit agent is willing to work for his/her living then I’ll just have to go it alone. This is what technology is for. So to coincide with finally starting a weblog I bought a scanner. And let me tell you something that might come as a surprise (if you’ve actually read this). My new HP scanner… it sucks! In fact, the last time I used a scanner, about ten years ago, which was actually borrowed because they were too expensive to buy, it did pretty much the same thing this new scanner does. It just gets in the way and collects dust.

It’s really unbelievable that a scanner bought in 2006 works no differently than the first scanner I used around 1996. Even the software, I mean, the mice that drive it, suck. The connection to the PC sucks  just like back then. Ever since hooking the thing up my PC is running weird. You would think that programmers could finally get their shit together. You would think that the mice finally saw the light and could do what Apple mice do  make it all work together  or at least make it look that way. And let me not forget OCR. This is the real disappointment. I have so many typed pages of text and now they will stay that way because the mice today are no different then yesterday – and they should be different – they should be better and I should be able to write with snot on a brick and OCR should be able to read it into my PC. It’s called progress.

Wow. Nothing works, whether its a scanner or a plumber or political system. So it can’t just be me. Goodness gracious were all going nowhere fast.

Rant on.

-tgs-

Holy Blood, Holy Grail

Thoughts on: Holy Blood, Holy Grail

Finding religion? Some find it in the perfect rumbling/tuned V-8. Others the clearest shot at a buck following at least seven doe. What about that perfect female in a bikini that you just gotta have? And then there’s the American’t Pauline evangelical that has been inscribed (indoctrinated) in us all and it itches just like that beach chick. Oh well. As the saying goes. The journey is the reward. Or something like that.

Ever since leaving the nest I was somewhat obsessed with The Jesus. This had to do with  not so much growing up in a strict religious household, but growing up in a country obsessed with religion. So even though I knew early on that it was all a smoke screen for something economic, I still liked the whole idear of The Jesus. There was something about Jesus H. Christ that just clicked with me. You see, being the product of the broken American dream, as a child I thought The Jesus was a pretty cool dude because we had something in common. Wasn’t he also a child of misconstrued parenthood? I mean. Come on. Even I could figure out by the time I was twelve that that whole virgin birth thing just couldn’t be real – no matter how passionately Father Scobalsky tried to explain it or how painful Sister Galic tried to embed it (the belief) on the top of my right hand with her ruler.

The perspective offered me of religion and The Jesus was through two lenses. I was baptised protestant but raised, via second marriage of my mother, Catholic. I have to admit, I like the Catholic side. But I’m also – and this is most likely from my mother’s German side – a bit masochistic. Although they can be easy-going, I found Protestants to be more tyrannical, albeit less painful as the Catholics which, at times, equaled back-of-hand-whipping with plastic rulers, wooden spoons and aerodynamically designed paddles. (Yes. I attended exactly four Sunday school sessions before I was thirteen. And that was the end of that.)

As I got older religion became nothing more than selling snake oil. As usual, American’ts took something and branded it, (re)packaged it, (re)distributed it and then ran it through the gauntlet of hot-air statistics, quarterly revenue devices and televised commercials. For a while there I was so put off by the Pauline Evangelicals that I ran out of their way. Literally. If I saw one coming down the street – for they are easy to spot with that stupid grin on their face and short sleeve dress shirts with ties – I would cross to the other side. But they spread like wild-fire. Relief came only in the form of sin and expatriation. The sin? I took to fornicatin’ w/ bimbo evangelical daughters. Expatriation? I moved to Eurowasteland where religion was where it belonged: in people and in(side) churches. Of course, there were the few by-standers distributing booklets at train stations but I never once heard an evangelical in-your-face request about whether or not Jesus was in my heart after I moved to Eurowasteland. Oh, kinda on a side note: the fornicatin’ in Eurowasteland was/is easier, too.

For the first few years of my expatriation in Eurowasteland I spent Xmas alone. In this loneliness I found god (note the small case, please). I did so by picking up my melancholy and an old bible that was at the bottom of one of my stacks of books. It was a great time because I was able to focus on reading it. What also helped reading such a book was the post fornicatin’ with chicks for-hire – even though they cost extra during Xmas holiday season. Of course I had dabbled in the bible before but the early 90s is the period in my life that I finally put all my effort into completely reading it. And what an interesting read it was. Although I must add this about it: Don’t read it from beginning to end. It’s an obnoxious effort. Pick parts out and read them randomly. But use a some form of note taking to mark what you have read. In other words. Read the bible chaotically but be systematic about absorbing it. I should also add that the Koran, Lao Tse, and Asterix and Obelix comics are also great reads during the boredom of Xmas.

But the questions followed me. And I never found any answers to these question in the bible.

  • What was Christ like as a child?
  • What kind of mischief was he up to as a teenager?
  • How much money or worth did those three kings actually give him when he was born?
  • What happened to his “father” Joseph?
  • What is a crucifixion and how does it actually kill you?
  • Who are all the Mary’s mentioned in the bible?
  • Is there an explanation for the so-called miracles, e.g. walking on water, turning water to wine, rivers turning to blood, etc.?
  • Was there also a last dessert? Etc., etc.

Like so many others born into the humdrum of middle class I have been waddling through life wanting some meaning beyond what I could purchase, religious or not. I continued asking questions between the hectic of modern work-stress and keeping my head above the lie that is trickle down economics. Then, some time after that very odd day in September in 2001, all of the questions I had been asking regarding religion started to intertwine and brew. For example. What do Muslims mean when they refer to a fight against Zion?

While on a trip to my beloved united mistakes I went into a bookstore in St. Petersburg, FL. to find something to read. In front of me was a pile of the last series of hardbacks of Dan Brown’s infamous pop novel. Of course I had heard about it. At that time it had sold something like three hundred and a quarter billion copies. But having read about it and having promised myself life was too short for pop novels, I thought maybe I should give this one a shot. So. I grabbed one of the copies and started reading right there in front of the pile. I knew for a book to sell so many copies it could only be written at a third-grade level. Killing twenty pages in a few minutes would be a no brainer. Ok, then. Chapter one. Woo me.

I got through twenty pages when an elderly British born man working part-time at the store came by to offer me a handkerchief.

“You ok, sonny-boy,” he asked.

“This is awful,” I said, holding up Brown’s book.

“Indeed. But it is naught worth the tears. May I suggest you read this.”

The old man pointed to a much smaller pile of books nearby that I later realized were strategically placed for those who could see through the show-time and well formatted pile of krapp published by Dan Brown. The old gentleman handed me what he called the source of Brown’s story. It was a thick paperback, umpteen thousands of pages, titled Holy Blood, Holy Grail. He told me to take it with a grain of salt but at the least it was a more interesting read. He then added that the stuff Brown wrote about has been done many, many times before. So I wiped my eyes dry from tears of boredom, paid for the recommended book, read it in three days and have been cursing Dan Brown ever since.

Holy Blood, Holy Grail knocked my socks off. It didn’t do so because of its entertainment value or because of its conspiracy-theory par excellence. I really fell for this book because the authors, Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh, and Henry Lincoln, asked and tried to answer many of the question I had been asking most of my life about The Jesus. The essence of this book is very simple: the truth is out there and you just have to put some effort into finding it. With that in mind, is HBHG truth? I do not know. In publishing circles it’s called “A Pseudo-History”. That should say enough. But I don’t care. In all of my years I’ve concluded three things must come from books:

  1. Good writing. (Except for my own!)
  2. Teach me something.
  3. Entertainment value should NOT exceed 1 and 2.

Subsequently HBHG led to many other books that widened my horizons. E.g.

  • The Messianic Legacy (the sequel by same authors)
  • The Woman with the Alabaster Jar (Margaret Starbird)
  • The Gospel According to the Son (Norman Mailer)
  • Foucaults Pendulum (Umberto Eco.)
  • The Chymical Wedding of Christian Rosenkreutz (Author unknown)
  • The Gnostic Gospels (Elaine Pagels)

Dan Brown begins his abundantly sold and very profitable novel (that should somehow be categorized as a “Psuedo-Novel”) by stating that what he is writing is based on fact? But he is a liar. Dan Brown’s novel is, in reality, based on plagiarism. At least the authors of HBHG are avid in admitting that what they have written could be complete nonsense – but at least they did all the research for their work. And one can only give the authors respect because HBHG really does contain a lot of stuff that I’m sure makes a few historians cringe. Yet throughout the book there is effort in clarifying their position and how they came to it. What HBHG is not is a book that attempts to intertwine you in a silly interpretation of a somewhat larger and more historical story albeit fit for three year old brains.

Ka-ching.

Good luck finding truth in the world yet to come.

Rant on.

-tgs-

Job Krapp

Subtitle: Why does it have to be a career?

It’s difficult recalling the amount of correspondence I’ve written and forwarded in the past twenty years regarding employment. I am probably the best living example of a ”job jumper” anyone will ever find. Because of that, at forty-three I am unable to acquire a job where I can actually afford to live. Luckily I don’t pay rent or have any debt. I own nothing requiring a ”title”. I haven’t used a credit card in over three years. I will never own a home and have never in my life bought a ”new” car.

If you think that’s sad continue reading.

Within a ten year period I held at least five ”career”-like jobs at various global companies. I was an analyst, a researcher, a ”knowledge manager” (what a title eh ;-), and a project manager. At one time I actually managed more than five million dollars between Amsterdam, Stockholm and Böblingen (Germany). Recently I looked back and saw that most of the people I worked with over the years and who survived the purge of exuberance of the nineties are still there. I will never understand what motivates humans to put up with all this shit just so they can have a job and buy krapp.

I hated almost all of the jobs I ever had. But I guess survival is addictive and as much as I try, I’m no different then the next person. Usually when I got a new job within a few weeks I am already considering how I could leave and then find another job. The boredom of ”career-work” was overwhelming. For every third or fourth resume I sent out, I would turn one in-side-out and hang it by its ankles, splatter it with mucus and alcohol and then put it in a tumble dryer or feed it to a dog (I actually trained dogs to just chew it up and not swallow it). After it dried I’d send it to Mr. Employer. There were a few employers with whom I did this regularly: Nike, Apple Computer and IBM. The dotcoms were especially fun too because they were full of not just idiots but idiots that could afford nice lunches and served great cookies at interviews.

Examine for a moment the cause & effect of a society bent on ”education” for the sake of getting a job. I have been preoccupied with the ”effect” of this for most of my adult life. One of the reasons for this is when I moved to Europe I was privileged to work for one the world’s most prestigious management consulting firms this planet has to offer. Nothing but the cream, baby. But I was constantly deligated to menial tasks because I didn’t have a ”degree”. Which wasn’t my fault – I just couldn’t afford one. Those who had one would then say, ”Well, Tommi, that’s your problem because I worked hard to afford mine.” So I put one and three together and realized that ”interesting work” equals a degree – or the other way ’round. Obviously.

What’s the real issue here? At the time the ”work” didn’t really matter because I didn’t want a ”career” anyway. I had other plans. All I wanted was a job so I could afford to make theatre at night – that’s what I wanted to be my living standard. But controlling that living standard is how The Man works these days – or didn’t any of you know that? – and The Man don’t give a hoot what a person’s plans are.

Enough rambling. I’m not a class fighter! On to the entertainment. Below are examples of the language of the college educated career oriented mega-fools that rule everything, especially a living standard. These are just a few of the questions I’ve been asked at ”interviews” or during the job application process. Of course, I’ve also included my answers.

Note: Employment Question [in brackets], my answers not in brackets.

[Please tell me about a product – electronics, software, gadgets, hobby-related, etc. – that you use and love. Tell me what you like most about it and why you chose that product instead of other substitutes. If you could upgrade or change this product in any way, what would you do?]

Want of Living-Standard Answer (not in brakcets):

I am an avid note taker and journal writer. Whether writing down creative ideas, jockeying business ideas, or adding value to my little black book, I write thoughts down everyday and chronicle them according to my activities and the women I fuck. I have tried technologies, e.g. PDA and PCs but nothing comes close to the efficiency and accuracy of a good notebook and a pencil. Until recently I would use the traditional Composition notebooks that are sold to American school students. These are bound and very durable but they are large and sometimes cumbersome and get in the way when flirting at hotel bars and gymnasiums. Recently, as a gift, I received a, what I considered, overly fancy and designer Moleskine notebook. At first I was sceptical. But after using the notebook I was sold. Being sold is a good thing these days, right? These notebooks are thread bound with a heavy-duty cardboard cover and are configured for various needs such as: notebooks (lined and unlined), reporter pads (with a flip up cover), sketchbooks (for designers and artists) and address book, etc. I have actually made contact with the manufacturer and informed him that a CEO notebook is due. What is especially important is that the notebook can be shredded or easily disposed of and leaves no trace. What would also be really cool is a kind of invisible paper that when a person other than the owner picks up the book the paper becomes transparent preventing the false reader from seeing what the CEO has written on it. The book should come with a metal wire page marker, long enough to go around a persons neck. The inner cardboard pocket should be a bit larger then the other units so that the CEO can store the pics of the little boys he fucks during visits to exotic manufacturering places where kids enjoy sweating while hacking shoes together. A larger pocket will also help with storing legal testimonies. These books are small enough to fit in my back pocket or easily in a suit jacket (size: 9x14cm). The last thing I would suggest changing about this product is adding more pages as I tend to fill them up (both front and back of pages) within a very short period.

[Please tell us about a project where you identified the need for the project, persuaded your managers to let you do it, the challenges you faced in completing the project, and the how the project turned out.]

Project: Knowledge Management (KM) implementation, Darmstadt, Germany, for more than 2000 professional service employees. One of the foundations of KM is the exchange of personal information. This includes, name, title, place of work and other info. Although the system would be in a secured corporate intranet, it is neverthe- less a complicated legal issue publishing such info in Germany where the caching of such information is strictly regulated by laws made right after the Nazis got their asses kicked. There is also the universie-like hurdle with benevolent German workers union. This is called the Betriebsrat. Translated this is the same as saying the bottom should also rule. During early project scoping I suggested to the board of management that we move to develop the system in Spain instead of Germany which would allow us to bypass time consuming bureaucracies and the stupid fuck pˆbel on the Betriebsrat. Also, in Spain we could be under EU jurisdiction in case the Betriebsrat decided to pursue us  or give us away to the German non-authoritative authorities. I knew that I was going beyond the call of duty here  it could turn out to be an issue of national pride, at least for the German software developers. So I polished my German presentation skills and American diplomacy and prepared three project plans (plan A, plan B, and, of course, plan D). I presented A & B to the board and my recommendation was to use B  which included the transfer of all work to Spain. D was the plan that would be presented to the Betriebsrat and basically contained a list of great perks all the pseudo-socialists would receive if they just went along with something in order to make it seem like their followers were doing something. To my surprise, the German board overwhelmingly supported both A and B but wanted both done in Spain. I ended up saving six months (at least) of legal haggling, mostly with the moronic Betriebsrat, and was able to deliver a functional prototype for Phase 1 of the project on time and to budget.

[Please tell us about your favourite job – what it was and why you liked it.]

Project Management.

I started my career in research and analytics for strategic management consultants. The most challenging part of that work was coordinating and managing large research projects. With such experience I applied to a project man- agement position for a German software company at the end of 1998. I was hired on a contract basis in Darmstadt, Germany, to manage three projects over eight months. The projects were: 1) Develop a knowledge management system for 2500 professional services consultants, 2) fix what the company fucked up in the first place regarding the development of an object oriented methodology for one of the companies products, and, 3) the chairman of the board wants to publish a corporate book that promotes the companies knowledge of E-Commerce because hes bored and has nothing better to do which makes life good for me because then I can have a job. I delivered all three projects on time and to budget. I thoroughly enjoyed the interaction with the techies and the constant demand of coordinating activities and resources and facilitating communication among players, contractors and hosts and bar maidens at the variouls whore-houses.

[What is an area of technology that interests you right now? What are the technical and business issues that are defining this area?]

VoIP. I started using internet telephony this year. The effect was immediate. Once again the frustration of the PC which hit us in the early 80s returned. Within a few weeks I reduced my use of both land-line and mobile telephone services and finally reached a blood pressure peak that I wasnt supposed to reach till my fifties.

Technically, the first problem is the connection. It is not an issue of bandwidth. Current DSL or cable modem speeds are adequate. Instead, the problem is inherent in IP. IP does not provide a way to guarantee that data- packets are delivered in sequential and consistent order. A result of this is latency, inconsistency and service quality. Although I could always place a call, for example from USA to Germany, after only talking for a few minutes the connection would break up and sometimes the application would hang-up. The solution was to simply place the call again. Which was fun because, if you spoke German, where the verb is always at the end of the sentence, it didn’t matter if you were cut-off. Other problems include firewalls. In many cases the call went through a particular firewall but with inconsistencies. When talking with friends in Germany there was obvious loss of packets.

The advantage to users of this technology is neat-o. First, the quality of sound is phenomenal. There is no blurri- ness in what is being said which eliminates having people repeat their words. Does anyone remember how it was in the early 50s? Other advantages are being able to set up conference calls, control who can call you, having an integrated phone-book or a contact list and, eventually, using a web-cam. This stuff is so cool that even Steve Jobs may end up crying in public after Larry Ellison admits that the two have been having a love affair  which started soon after Bill Gates rejected Ellison.

[What are the three most important areas of personal development for you in your next job?] To die a lonely death…

[What is your strongest area of technical expertise & why?]

I am able to integrate and facilitate both technical and business issues. With my experience I am particularly adapt at answering questions and providing human solution based answers. I know this doesn’t usually fit into the corporate world today but with proper motivation I can become an asshole like the rest of you. Although a believer in common sense, I can also rely heavily on tech-savvies and keen business acumen, as long as the employer supplies particular heterosexual favours. I can easily weave and thread complex issues and make them palatable to a varying audience, especially well educated men who prefer their women topless on most occasions. Although I am not a techie-ass, per say, I am comfortable with any technology because I understand the complexity of 0s and 1s and can facilitate among desperate organizations because it all isnt really about math. Speaking of programmers  there is no such thing. If there were, they would be in India or some other place where the idea of family, friendship, frolicking (the eternal three fs trying to free them selves from Walt Disney & Co.) still have meaning.

[Tell me about an experience where you helped managed a customer or partner relationship on your own.]

Philips, Amsterdam, had an extensive strategic plan to implement an e-commerce system in 2000. Wow. What a really great organization. Every manager I interacted with was educated at some high-end US university. They were all so gun-ho about having lunch with a native American (I lied a bit about my identity) that I thought I would have to print tickets. Anyway, they wanted to integrate retailers into their online offering so that they can control the presentation of their products. Hewlett Packard (HP) was the system integrator and Broadvision (BV) the POS application. BV lacked a turnkey solution for integrating the retailers and BV thought they were really cool because the bottom of dotcom mania hadnt yet reared its ugly head; essentially BV was a one-to-one content provider and POS app which, of course, caused them to conflict with Philips empircal plan. For Philips the issue was complicated further by the fact that in Europe manufacturers are limited in their ability to sell directly to customers.

I was working for a small software company that had the solution that would create a virtual selling environment that combined the (product) content of the manufacturer with the content of the retailers; we also enabled POS functionality within this virtual environment and therefore could bypass the legal issues mentioned above. It was clear to me in the beginning of this project that HP would not favour a small company chosen by Philips (without HP influence; they were already having to deal with BV). In every meeting, statement-of-work, project document, I was conscious of that fact and always maintained a submissive and cooperative attitude with HP  I also wore loose pants. Also, because our system was relatively small and required nothing more than a server (for prototype devel- opment) I convinced Philips to allow us to have two development environments. Again, youll see my management savvies rearing their head here, not unlike what I experienced at the above mentioned German company. In order to avoid costs I bought a cheap server on eBay for around twenty-five dollars and was able to smuggle it into the HP facilities in Bˆbligen, Germany. This avoided unnecessary conflict with HP because they had initially agreed to provide us with ONE server. Keep in mind, that the basis of our functionality was the re-routing of URLs. It was such a simple technology that enabled our company to acquire zillions in stock-market funding that most HP execs I encountered could do nothing but roll their eyes in either gratitude or disbelief. This integration was something that had to be done manually and so I once again went on eBay and bought some cheap labour to take care of this task. They were even easier to smuggle into the Bˆblingen facility. When an HP exec saw me in one of the cubicles with two Brazilian honeys I just handed him a post-it with their hotel address. This also made life easier when we needed access to BV, who were in a cubicle around the corner. Eventually I changed our strategy and asked Philips if they would take over the part of integrating URLs. They gladly agreed and assigned one of their internal developers to my team. My strategy, as a project manager / business analyst, was to maintain a serious and inclusive dialog among partners and proved to be successful as the first prototype. Our implementation took place at Philips in Sweden after only three months of development. I saved Philips millions!

[What is the technically most complex project you have ever worked with?]

Object Oriented Methodology. The company I was working for assigned the writing of this methodology to two recent software engineer graduates and one tenured engineer. I lacked the technical know-how for managing the development of such a methodology but I didnt want the engineers to know this. Referring back to my experience in consulting, I utilized part of my time interviewing software engineers and doing some high-level research on the subject. Once I had some knowledge I contacted the software engineers who were assigned to writing the methodology and built a close rapport, driving the three hours to their office at least twice a week. I also managed the hotel rooms where they could fuck the whores. They really liked the fact that I charged the rooms and the whores to my credit card. Another solution was to provide project-report templates to the sub-level engineers, which they only had to fill in, that gave me the answers to time-allocation, costs and other resource requirements and the number of whores. I was able to deliver the textbook size methodology within six months. The company had been struggeling already for eighteen months without results.

Rant on.

Tomas

 

Friend

A friend of mine was named by his parents “…”. I met most of his parents. In fact, recently I ran into one of his mothers at a bar in a part of town where large cars park illegally on the sidewalk in front of it and because they are so shinny and expensive the local police don’t even ticket them. My friend and I hadn’t seen/heard from each other in a while so I was a bit preoccupied when he invited me to his office this day for coffee and a discussion. That’s exactly what he called it: a discussion. His office was on the wrong side of the Rhine which also made his coffee taste funny. But I went with it. I had little choice.

My friend is a big lanky fellow from a place called Ratingen – again, on the wrong side of the Rhine. His looks are a cross between a Greek fisherman, a look he took on as a gesture of love for a Greek woman he fell for but then subsequently lost, and a Rhine river customs bureaucrat from circa 1789. Although it didn’t really surprise me, his invitation wasn’t just for coffee; it was mid-day and he was in casual dress; there was some sweat on his braw, mostly above his thick, dark, right eye. So much for the easiness and less self servitude of self-employment. I guess.
”Tom”, he said when I arrived. “I’ve told you a thousand times that you have to stop dreaming. Where have you been? You really can’t afford it anymore.”
”I know,” I responded. “Hey, I finally met your father’s third wife.”
“Don’t even try to change the subject,” he said. “You haven’t stopped. The dreaming. When are you going to stop?”
“I know,” I said. “I can’t. Its my nature.”
”Well, you can’t afford your nature anymore,” he said. “And I hope you’re counting your blessings. Yours will be the cheapest divorce I’ve ever seen.”
“She’s just throwing me out,” I said naively. “We’re not at the divorce thing yet.”
“Well,” he said. “It won’t be the end of the world for you, that’s for sure. It’ll probably be better for the both of you. Luckily I’ll figure something out. Just knock off all the dreaming and get back to work. By the way, weren’t you supposed to call me last week?”
My friend is a consultant. He’s also a part-time lawyer. He is a very successful consultant, more so than being a lawyer – but that’s by his own personal career choice. He consults to European corporations about law and he makes really, really good money doing it. Consultants are very thorough when it comes to providing information regarding the intricacies of managing business(es). Some of them can also apply these skills to managing lives, especially when those lives are in critical situations. The key to being the best consultant is his/her ability to offer an objective voice that has all the right answers. That, btw, is how I met my friend. I worked for him once but I haven’t for a while. And when our relationship began he confidently said, in answer to my question(s), that he has all the answers. He added, if he doesn’t have all of them, he’ll find them. He was very thorough in explaining to me that consulting wasn’t just bullshit – which I thought it was up to that moment. Then he cynically labeled me a struggling artist, said, “ah, anywho”, and I started working for him.
The thing about consultants and consulting at the level my friend does it is that it usually involves direct communication with corporate heads and/or advisory boards. Communicating at that level on a constant basis can be very influential to ones personality and/or character. My friend is no exception to his character being influenced. Yet when I confront him about his hardcore, steadfast personality, he denies the influence.
“Your dreaming is and will always be unprofitable,” he says. “But I accept that,” he continues. “I accept it because I am willing, not out of sympathy, mind you, to subsidize it. I will never forget the arts and what they stand for. But that’s all beside the point. The dreams of the dreamers running companies is what we are here for. It is that basic fanfare that provides us – I mean, you – with the ability to subsidize. So, when you are critical of the hand that feeds you – as you often are – I fare that you should be careful of such comparisons. You have made your choices in this life and so too have the corporate heads. Don’t blame them now. Just be happy that you still have the likes of me. Capice.”
My friend thinks that compromise is not just a necessary evil in life but it is the basis on which life is sustainable. He even goes so far as to compare the rich and the poor and the only thing that separates the two is one sides ability to compromise.
“It’s been that way,” he says, “ever since we got out of the caves.”
For my friend, the corporate honchos that run most of life’s show are dreamers of another kind. Perhaps, to him, they are like aliens. Maybe they are like gods. Either way, even if he’s critical of them – for driving him to work so hard – they have long since earned his respect and admiration. That’s why I smirk when my friend tells me to stop dreaming all the time unless I dream like THEY dream – which is knows is next to impossible.
“You are right on one thing, their dreams are about compromise,” I once tried to argue. “Mine are not. That’s what makes a real dreamer – as opposed to a corporate dreamer.” That was one of the rare moments where he was speechless – or perhaps too busy working to respond.
My friend has one weakness – even though his success proves otherwise. In a world falling prey to the whims of reactionary business antics, customer disenfranchisement, corporate peon vs. corporate peon, consultants across the globe have seized what they consider to be a rightful place among the old-school professions, e.g. lawyers, doctors and, arguably, accountants. But if one looks deep down through an empirical lens, the professional consultant will always be in the shadow of other professions that all share, and here’s the gist, sanctioned academic commonality. The above mentioned professions all have university curriculum. Anyone can be a consultant with or without a so-called MBA. But I dare not go that deep with my good friend as we argue (for old times sake) the definition of “dreamers” because he is providing me with some well needed legal advice regarding what will inevitably be divorce proceedings. Talk about a dream killer. The only thing I ask of my friend is that he not refer to corporations and those in them as dreamers. But he refuses my request. I digress.
He put away one set of papers and pulled from a drawer another stack of yellow A4 papers. He removed the heavy clip and shuffled them into order. Each sheet was filled with penciled graphs, text in exquisite handwritten print and a few white-outs that were then covered with more perfect penmanship. Keep in mind that this was a time before PCs, powerpoint and Word. Before he handed the stack of papers to me to review, I asked him if this was his new project and when the deadline was. There are a few imperatives to being a consultant and/or working for a consultant. One of them was always knowing your deadline. Since we both knew of my situation, it was probably the right moment that I apply myself beyond being a failed artist and get out there and earn a few Euros.
“It’s time to earn your keep and luckily I need your help,” he said. “I got a little surprise for you, too.”
My first reaction was to think about the money. My friend paid me well when I worked for him, and, although I hated the work, I appreciated this form of magnanimity which had been such a huge part of my expatriation to Eurowasteland.
”You’re new project,” he said, handing me the papers.
The title of the cover sheet read: “Turning A Profit With State Funded Theatre”. The subtitle read: “Moving Beyond Subsidies.” There were bulleted alternative subtitles, one stood out particularly: “Getting Dreamers To At Least Face Some Realities.”
Seedy, cynical thoughts starting running through my head. What was my friend up to? Is this a joke and I need to prepare myself for it? Is he setting me up for a hilarious fall?
I flipped through a few sheets of the document and noticed that my friend had created a dummy lay-out of a typical corporate slide presentation. It would be my job to complete all the necessary research, finalizing the slides, and subsequently put it all on folio for the over-head projector – just like old times. My only initial question was, who, exactly, was the client? Dazed & confused at the subject matter – which was so different than anything I had ever done before when it came to earning money – I sat down on the prized old leather couch across the floor from my friend’s desk – where I had slept on occasion during our all-nighters – and reviewed my new undertaking. As usual – for he felt it to be his task, especially since he thought it best to mostly work alone except for hiring an occasional secretary or me – my friend got up to get us both a cup of instant coffee and I heard him sigh in the process – yet another subtle signal regarding his discontent with all things career, profession and bank accounts, i.e. the typical western worries, times three or four. As he was fiddling around the scarcely furnished office kitchen as though it weren’t his, coinciding with the sound of spoons clanking on cups and my fingers pulling at paper, I reviewed a few random pages of the dummy document. Slowly the idea that this might be something serious started to hit me. Although the document was still in its infancy, preliminary, a rough draft, it was full of statistics and analysis regarding the current two billion Euro government budget that was used to subsidize theatre in this part of Eurowasteland (circa 2001 AD), which confused me even more. Was my friend, my very successful consultant dash lawyer friend, actually doing work for a non-profit enterprise, a government subsidized entity? Again. My friend was a lawyer by education and a 2k Euro/day consultant by profession. He didn’t get to where he is by working for – as he called them – non corporate dreamers. The dummy document was interesting enough for me at a personal level since it dealt with the world – the dream world – I lived within. But to now be commissioned to analyze it?
As usual, my friend was thorough and this rough draft was well thought out. I was laughing and smirking at times thinking how unfitting this all is. It was so unfitting, for example, that I pinched myself without my friend noticing. You know, a pinch to check for a dream or reality. I was awake. Then, suddenly, while skimming through the third to the last page of the dummy, there was a surprise handwritten note in the margin of the page. It read: Write – Produce – Produce. That’s odd, I thought. But I had to move beyond that because a decision had to be made. Would I tell my friend that even though the subject matter is of interest to me, I am part of the government subsidy world that is to be researched and that makes me ethically liable. Even as an “artist”, starving, failing, etc., or not – there are boundaries. I mean, my occupation – if you can call it that – isn’t about the management of state subsidized theatre but instead the artistic merit behind it. Could I then objectively research the subject matter? I could here him laughing in the background at my thoughts – almost as though he knew exactly what was going through my head. On top of all that, I did owe him something, even though he was the one that offered my the lawyer advice regarding annulling my marriage.
For the sake of verisimilitude and in passing, here a summary of what the dummy document was dealing with.
My friend had been commissioned by a newly elected state official in charge of budgeting national culture. I don’t recall if this official was a governor, a senator or president, but he/she must of have been pretty high in order to pay my friend’s fees. As is the case with most government policy there were drastic cuts being negotiated among entities. The basis of his analysis was that theatre, not unlike businesses in the free market, had to be profitable. He went on to argue that just as a business had a research & development department which served the purpose of providing new products, theater had to utilize its diverse organizational attributes to enable and facilitate strategic decisions. Then he proposed that Eurowastelandia theaters, like TV, should create theatre instead of regurgitating it, which in turn could be traded as commodities – this would be something akin to syndication. Theater could then create, cycle and recycle and with each phase generate revenue, hence requiring less government subsidy.
I paused for a moment and sipped from the bad coffee. This was very radical stuff. It was almost revolutionary. It would be quite a challenge to get this into the heads of smudgy, arrogant people who run theater but if it could be put in… Stop. I turned to my friend.
“You’re not serious,” I said.
“As a three dollar bill,” he smirked. “Of course I’m serious. I had to drop my hourly fee by a few bills but I thought it would be worth it. So I took the challenge. Thought of you immediately. When was your last production? Been a while, eh? Besides, I could use the publicity. You know how many corporate heads the governor meets with on a daily basis?”
Controlling my cynicism as best I could, I knew this was a doomed idea. My friend had finally taken a wrong step – a step that he should have consulted me about prior to taking. But at least I understood that his reason for rushing me out to see him was about something more than trying to get my ass off the proverbial couch while my divorce was in limbo and so too was my artistic career. I smiled and sipped at the steaming cup of cheap coffee, thinking that at least my well-off friend could afford one of them fancy automated coffee machines which would go well along side his Mercedes worth over 100k.
“Is this some kind of joke,” I asked.
He didn’t respond to my question. Instead he continued with what seemed to be a graphical presentation of the dummy document – even though it was like presenting a skeleton and saying it’s a real person. As I watched and listened to him I thought of all the college grads the world over. Are they are this doomed? Out of some misconstrued sympathy for the arts suddenly the over-educated the world-over are seeing the light that it ain’t all about – and shouldn’t be about – money. I mean, how could a guy who had a Bachelors of Science in Economics from North West, an MBA from Birmingham, a PHD pending from the University of Kiel – the thesis of which was about chaos economics and global interest rate strategy as a form of inflation control – come up with the idea that Shakespeare could or even should profitable?
“Come on! Where did you get all of this from,” I asked. “I mean, you’re pretty detailed in parts of this.”
“I did some research,” he said, and placed a second cup of steamy coffee on the table in front of me – where I noticed that there were three morning steaming cups. I watched him spoon sugar into his coffee cups and then noticed that his desk was now full of steaming coffee cups and the headlights of his Mercedes outside were shinning directly into the office through the side window.
“You gave me the idea,” he said. “Remember? We talked about theatre once and you said that there’s no place for writers anymore. And I disagreed.”
“We always disagree, I said, still staring at the steaming cups of coffee on the table in front of me. “I also said that all would be well if I were something like David Mamet,” I smirked.
“Ah. The self pity role again,” my friend smirked. “That’s a good one.”
I thought of the pinch trick again but realized that trying it twice in a dream cancels it out. I had to try something different. I grabbed one of the steaming cups of coffee. It was full to the brim. From the cup handle I could feel the heat of the cup. Without breathing deep I turned the cup toward me and then dumped its contents into my lap. Steam rose and I crossed my eyes watching it.
“You know,” my friend said. “I looked him up. That guy. David… He doesn’t really write for the theatre anymore. He’s not an artist like you are. He makes money now writing for film. He makes lots of money. That’s not being an artist. But thats another issue. Were not there yet. More coffee?”
I stood up and starred at my lap. No stain. No coffee. No more steam. I grabbed another cup from the table and poured it into my lap. Then I did it again with a third cup. Obviously I was in a dream. The pinch trick – or in this case – the steaming cup of coffee trick usually gets you out of the dream. But, like I said, I was standing, there was nothing left of having poured the dreamy cup of steamy coffee into my lap. And more importantly, I was still in the dream.
”Stop it! This is crazy,” I said. I looked around and for a split second thought that I was alone in the office of my friend. I had never been in that office alone. He never let anyone stay in there along. Suddenly when I turned to look elsewhere there was my friend standing still, smiling with a six-pack of St. Pauli Girl and a text bubble from a presentation graph that read: drink beer instead of coffee it makes you sleep better.
”Sit down my friend,” my friend said.
I sat. All of the remaining cups of coffee that were on the table in front of the couch were gone or had transconfigured into open, consumed bottles of St. Pauli Girl beer. At the end of the table was a empty bottle of Eurowastelandia kräuterschnapps and two ashtrays overflowing with cig-butts and ash.
Since I obviously couldn’t get out of it, I went with it.
“The thing that gets me,” I added, “is that you actually try to legitimize writing for the theatre here. In your little mock-up presentation to whatever governor of lower von saxony, being an artist – even a failed one – is legitimate. Are you fuckin’ nuts. This is Eurowastelandia, man! They dont care about art here anymore. They only care about having state houses the regurgitate Lance & Leone or King Lear for the umpteenth time. These aren’t theaters. There government tombs. I mean agencies. They’re government agency tombs. What the fuck is up with that?”
“Ah, I’ve finally acquired your attention,” my friend admits. “You’ve been gone for a long time.”
”And what about that fucking Botho von Strauss? No one gives a fuck about him. Hes a subsidy writer. No fucking creativity. Would never make it in London or New York. And what about Handke? Jesus fucking Christ, man. Handke is old school. Hell, nobody ever even went to see his plays when he was writing. When was that? Eighteen-hundred and… something…. Besides, he’s a fucking communist.”
“You’re getting red in the face, my friend,” my friend said.
“Good. I’m gonna have a fucking heart attack,” I said. “I’m getting to old to be a failed artist.”
”And don’t forget. Strauss is a communist, too,” my friend added.
”Yeah,” I said.
“So maybe you’ve given up?”
“I haven’t given up. It’s given up on me,” I responded.
“So maybe you’re no longer trying hard enough,” he added.
“This ain’t about building blocks, lego or playing house with dolls, man. This is the creative process. You either nurture it or it dies. Basta. That’s it.”
“Yeah,” my friend said. “As much as it pains me. You have taught me one thing. There’s no place for creative souls in Eurowasteland anymore. That’s a real shame.”
It was at that moment I started to sense something. Something in the air. It’s moment in consciousness where the mind is completely autonomous to the functions of the body. I tend to think it’s the moment of dream entry and/or exit. The thing is, I didn’t know if I was entering another dream, exiting this one – or if there was yet a third possibility. What I was clear about was that even in my dream I hadn’t consumed anything from it. There was no taste of beer in my mouth, no smell of work on my fingers and no sense of accomplishment or failure from having achieved anything. The perfect moment for some, but for others….
Then my friend’s phone rang and he picked it up and started talking about becoming a theatre producer. I could hear the laughter on the other end. He said that he was going to produce my newest play and it would be a litmus test for other productions. Then he covered the mouth-piece of the phone and said to me, ”I’ll treat it as though it were a business.”
My friend was no philanthropist. Nor was he a man of enough means to control all doubt regarding success or failure as an artist. Since I had never had a ”successful” play it didn’t really matter to me what he knew or didn’t know about theatre. What did matter was the fact that this friend, who had provided me at the required times with a means of survival – that is, with a means to prevent my soul from dying – was making me such an offer.
That night while contemplating the production of my latest play, The Good Criminal and reviewing the newly translated (English to German) text, I thought: yeah, its taken me till mid-life to realize what friends are for – and I’m glad I have at least one.

Dream on.

And Rant on.

-tgs-