Port Wine Bar

I’ve always liked port wine, but especially since I’ve been to the center of the port wine world, Porto itself, in 2015. I’ve always had one or the other bottle of port wine in the house since a couple of years already.
End of 2016 I moved to my current place and I always was aware that there is kind of a dead space under the kitchen counter’s living room side. What to do with that space? I’m not sure why I needed two years of living with that dead space to come upon the idea to make a bar out of it! So, here is Regina’s bar 😉

A special note belongs of course to the small but fine collection of port wines! It was and still is fun to go port wine hunting in Yokohama and Tokyo. Bigger wine shops mostly do have some port, but usually only of one port wine house. The most readily available port wine in Tokyo is Sandeman ruby and white, but as you can see, my bar carries at the moment only one bottle of Sandeman ruby 😉
One shop in Shibuya carries Niepoort, another shop at Tokyo station has Taylor’s, a shop in Shin-Yokohama has Ramos Pinto. Another shop close to Yokohama station carries Taylor’s as well. The 2004 Fonseca vintage I have for quite a while already and I’m planning to drink it for a special occasion ;-), the Messias and Bulas I bought online. I am quite amazed that you can actually find so much port in Japan when you go looking for it 😉 You will also notice if you know something about port that I have a preference for tawny port 😉 The three bottles with a 10 on it designate 10 year old tawny. 🙂 But of course I’m not saying no to any other form of port. (The main variants of port are ruby (stored in metal tanks before bottling), tawny (stored in wooden barrels before bottling), white, vintage and LBV (late bottled vintage). There is also rose and reserve as variations of ruby, but I never had either of those yet and haven’t found them in Japan).
While I have a preference for tawny port, I have not yet crowned a personal favorite brand.
I’ve come to like my little bar and the port hunting trips and shall indulge myself now and then with my half glass of port in the evening. And one day I shall return to Porto and not only visit the town again but also make a tour down the precious Douro valley where the stuff hails from.
Cheers!

A Company has a Social Task

I am deliberately not using the phrase “social responsibility” in the title and throughout this blog entry, because the story has only partially something to do with the well known “corporate social responsibility” or CSR.
I mean something different with the “social task” and here is what.
The story happened quite a couple of years ago, when I still did some sort of marketing for some division of the company I work for, which included organizing our booths on trade fairs.
I am no engineer whatsoever, I studied Japanese studies, English literature and dramatics… however, we had two machines on that booth, one was doing task A and another was doing task B as a consequence of what happened at machine A. I told our assembly factory so and they sent me a drawing with the two machines on the booth, but alas, without a connection between them (a conveyor belt). I picked up the phone and asked the guy in the factory who made the drawing, how the heck the product was supposed to get from machine A into machine B without a conveyor belt between them.
The dude’s answer was… “Oh, you’re right! I forgot. Okay, I’ll add a conveyor belt.”
I simply couldn’t believe this amount of stupidity. At next opportunity, I showed the NG (no good) drawing to the factory manager and complained heartily about the lack of a conveyor belt and the lack of basic intelligence.
The factory manager asked me who made the drawing, I gave him a name. He showed a pained and knowing smile and said in German: Regina, eine Firma hat auch eine soziale Aufgabe. = Regina, a company has also a social task…
All my anger puffed away and I could do nothing but laugh.
Ever since, this sentence is kind of a guiding star for me and I’m trying to remind myself of it whenever I encounter complete dumbness in the company.
Unfortunately, my patience is being tested again recently. We have not only one, but two dudes in the office who are completely useless and cause nothing but anger and frustration to everyone who has to work with them. Nobody is giving them tasks anymore, because it is really better, faster and easier if you do it yourself or ask someone else, than to try to get these two dudes of corporate horror to perform any sort of meaningful work. The worst thing about that is that one of them is even a manager and everyone around him asks him/herself who the hell made this loser a manager and why.
Anyway, I’m dearly trying to appreciate the social task of a company to keep people in bread and butter as long as possible when I look at these two guys. To have companies acknowledging their social task is also a sign for a decent civilization without harsh hire and fire. But it’s at times really hard not to lose your patience with people like that and to not get bitter about these salary thieves. Well, I shall keep on trying and recite that “soziale Aufgabe” sentence in my head as a mantra… 😉

The Trouble with Sports

Sports and I, that’s like oil and water – it doesn’t mix! 😉
I’ve “hated” sports all my life. I hated school sports from the bottom of my heart and used every excuse I could find not to go. My parents “forced” me to do some sports, at first I did gymnastics, terrible. Then I did basketball for a while, next I did fencing for a few years. While fencing was kinda interesting, what a hustle with all that equipment. My dad dragged me ice skating on weekends for some time. During some summer camp I did tennis for a few weeks.
Nothing ever “hooked” me, nothing. I always cursed the time wasted with sports, during which I could have read a book, or written a story, or watched a movie. Then I left home and went to university and felt the obligation to do some sports for “health” reasons and because sports is something everyone does. I tried Kendo, Teakwondo, Aikido and horse back riding. I never lasted anywhere longer than half a year.

When I entered the work force, I simply gave up on any sports. The only thing I did ever since I have a job is riding my bicycle. Not a fancy race or mountain bike, mind, but a “mama chari” as the Japanese call it, a normal city bicycle with a basket for your luggage. Even with the bicycle, I must have a “reason” to ride. The reason is either commuting to the train station or on the weekends doing whatever grocery or drug store or other shopping. I have great difficulties doing a bicycle ride if there is “no reward” or “no purpose”, the purpose being commute or shopping.
But, alas, we’re not getting younger and I have trouble with my back for ten years already and now I have finally reached the point of “I gotta do something” for my health and somehow move those stiffening joints.
For a year or so now I am doing daily back stretching exercises for fifteen minutes in the evening before going to bed, but that’s not enough anymore and I have the feeling I need to do more.

So, new year resolution for 2019 was “go to yoga or Pilates or something”. I managed to activate a work colleague and together we checked the Internet for a yoga studio close to work and oh miracle, we actually found a place one minute from the office.
I think we were very lucky with the place. It’s a super clean and modern women only studio and they offer yoga as well as Pilates and also have a room with a workout machine circuit. The yoga trial class we went to was excellent. I immediately liked the trainer lady. So I became a member of the studio and have already done three weeks of yoga (once a week) and one Pilates session (which was not such a hit. In the session we used the so called “spine corrector” and the prop was too small for my non-Japanese height). Last week, we also got an instruction session for the workout machines. I have never been to a gym yet, haha! I’m not sure whether I will use those machines a lot, but the yoga sessions I am wildly determined to continue. I truly hope that my back problems will get a bit better thanks to this. Maybe I should have started ten years ago, but sports and I, that’s like oil and water!

The End of an Era

I’ve been going to the Yamaha music school for around thirteen years out of my eighteen in the greater Tokyo area. Maybe it was even fourteen years. I started out with drum lessons, which I picked up again after having gone to drum lessons in Germany for a while too. But, after two or three years, my drum teacher suddenly passed away. I think he got only around 65 years old. Next up were around seven years of vocal lessons. Last but not least, around four years of piano lessons. I just quit those piano lessons last Thursday and thus ended an era of some thirteen or fourteen years of music lessons. Wow, that’s been a long time.

Why did I quit? I quit drum lessons because the teacher died of course, but I could have gone to another drum teacher. I didn’t because of lack of practice opportunity. Japanese houses (and German houses neither) aren’t exactly large or soundproof. Going to a studio for practice is costly and also time consuming.
Singing I gave up because I cannot sing what I’d like to sing – heavy metal. My voice just ain’t made for that 😉
And now piano. Even though I have a keyboard at home and have the opportunity to practice putting the thing on low volume, the amount of practice needed to play like I imagine I want to play is so large that again lack of time is the killing factor. Writing takes the priority and I am not willing to sacrifice writing time for piano practice time.
Another thing was that the music center I went to the past two years after moving to Yokohama, is a pain to get to (train ride into the opposite direction from home after work and fifteen minute walk from the station), which contributed to the lack of motivation to go.
Well, the keyboard still stands at home and if I feel like playing, I can 🙂

Of course already new plans are in the making, not concerning music but for my not-getting-any-younger body. The New Year 2019 resolution will be to go to yoga or pilates or something like that to counter the stiffness of advancing age! Gosh, how terrible that sounds! LOL. It feels kinda odd to not have any music lessons anymore in the future, but hey, I shall of course practice something I am pretty good at concerning music and that is head-banging! 😉

Paying for Energy

I just saw the Bohemian Rhapsody movie and it left me with this urge saying – when’s the next concert I’m going to? 😉 It will be only in two months when the Finnish melodic death metal act Wolfheart will come to Tokyo. When was the last concert I went to? That was German power metal band Primal Fear exactly one month ago. Before that I saw my new favorite band Insomnium, Finnish melodeath as well, in Switzerland. The Bohemian Rhapsody movie made me jittery – wanna bang my head and shout to bands I like or love! 😉 Music is one of the most powerful and wonderful things humans have invented. The energy music gives people is amazing. Music and also dance of course are much more let me call it “primeval” than reading books or looking at paintings, because they make you move. Well, not all music of course, sitting at a classical concert just listening is not very active. Such “passive” music does not appeal to me at all, I want stomping and shouting and head banging ;-). Music also brings like minded people together. It’s magic.
But: to survive as a musician or any kind of artist these days is not an easy thing (well, it has never been). Apart from the “real fans” of a band who buy CDs or Vinyls for their collections, most people use whatever streaming services (myself included). It’s quite shocking how little artists get paid per stream. This article here gives some insight in case you are interested. https://www.digitalmusicnews.com/2018/01/16/streaming-music-services-pay-2018/

It’s the same for books of course, you need to have a hell of a lot of downloads on Kindle to put bread onto the table.
I cannot understand people who want things for free. Art, whatever art it is, gives us so much and people want it for free? If artists cannot survive by what they make with their art, then who does that help? There still seems to be this illusion out there that artists make shitloads of money. Some, very few, big names do, yes, but those people are maybe 0.1 or whatever percent of those who produce art, which is one of the greatest sources of energy and joy in our lives.
I might be writing books, but music is the thing where I get most of my energy from and I’ll hella continue to support my favorite bands by paying for what they produce and I hope others will do so as well. Go out there and pay our artists! Thanks!

Paid Sick Leave? – Not Everywhere…

I like Japan and also working in Japan is not the worst thing in the world, but one thing really sucks… there is no paid sick leave. I am sick right now, having the shingles and I even got a doctor’s certificate stating I’m off until the 7th of November. Unfortunately that certificate is worth exactly nothing.
Of course I’ve been sick before. When you have a cold or an upset stomach or something like that you take some of your paid leave days. Once I ran out of those paid leave days when I got the flu and had to take something called “multipurpose leave”, which is unpaid. You get so and so many days of this “multipurpose leave” depending on how long you work for the company.
Now is the second time I will have to take the unpaid “multipurpose leave”. I asked our HR and the doctor’s certificate is worth nothing. It does not entitle me to any form of paid sick leave, since there is none. I would need a doctor’s certificate if I’m out for more than seven business days (so far it’s six), because apparently you can be laid off? Get a warning? Dunno… if you are absent for more than seven business days without a certificate. But under seven business days this piece of paper has zero benefit or meaning.
There is a button with “absence due to illness” in our attendance system, the mean thing about that button is that if you use it, your “attendance” sinks below 100%, which means that you get less bonus payments etc. So more or less nobody is using this button. If you are on paid leave or unpaid “multipurpose leave”, your attendance rate remains at 100%, which guarantees your full bonus payments.
(In Japan you get a base salary and a “bonus” twice a year, whose amount depends on how well your company is doing. The yearly bonus payments vary between “nothing” to up to six additional “months” worth of pay, so it can be a lot and you don’t wanna miss out on that.)
So, happy Europe, where you get paid even when you are sick. This is not a matter of course in some other parts of the world.

Up the Mountain

I’d like to share my fascination with a German colleague (who does not live in Japan) who has been climbing Mt. Fuji ten times by now. I kid you not.
And I’ll be using his “hobby” to justify mine, hahaha 😉
So, during the months of July and August, when Mt. Fuji is mostly snow free, the mountain suffers “open season” and hordes of people are climbing it. You can climb Mt. Fuji in other months as well, but then you face snow on the top and also, the mountain huts are not open. There are several mountain huts between the 6th to 9th stations, but they only operate during those two months and if you go outside of the season, you have to do real “alpine” climbing without “help”.
So that colleague is finding some business trip “excuse” every year, comes to Japan, stays over a weekend and climbs Mt. Fuji. Usually he is taking other colleagues with him, who are more or less enthused by the prospect, but who don’t dare to decline, because the Mt. Fuji fan is high up the pecking order.

I have tried to do the Mt. Fuji climb as well, some fifteen or so years ago and it was a horror trip! 😉 There was brilliant weather in Tokyo on the day of my climb, 35 degrees Celsius, sunshine, but when the bus arrived at the fifth station at 2500 meters, where the end of the road is, there was a mighty thunderstorm. It rained cats and dogs, it was windy, it was bloody cold.
The most popular way to climb the beast is to arrive there at 22:00 in the evening, climb up during the night, be for sunrise at the top and then climb down again.
I struggled up the mountain in the dark in rain and sometimes I had the feeling the wind would blow me off the slope to an untimely death. I slipped somewhere on the wet rocks and hurt my knee and gave up at the 8th station, which is at around 3000 meters and climbed back down after the sun rose (I had a magnificent sunrise above the clouds too after waiting a few hours at the mountain hut and the weather getting better).
Apart from the physical strain – you are not alone while climbing. In July and August there is a queue up the mountain. You cannot walk your own pace, you are trapped in the path with hundreds of others in front of you and behind you.
Where is the fun in that? Once it’s quite interesting, but why do you have to do that ten times??? Every year??? There are plenty of beautiful mountains in the European Alps just around the corner for the German colleague, why climb Mt. Fuji with thousands of others once a year? It totally escapes me what is interesting and fascinating about that.
Don’t get me wrong, I love Mt. Fuji, but I decided that it’s a wonderful mountain to look at because of its symmetry, you don’t need to climb the guy! Once maybe, yeah, but not ten times! 😉

Nevertheless, looking at the Mt. Fuji fan, I feel very comfortable about my own “madness”: flying around the world to see heavy metal bands, hahaha. Sometimes I have that short, brief, insignificant thought that I’m crazy hanging out in rain and vicious knee-deep mud for three days to see bands, but when I hear/see this story of the dude who flies half around the world to climb Mt. Fuji every year, I feel very sane, normal and unweird! Thanks, Sir, for making me feel good about myself. And, Oh yes, I depart for Wacken in five days! Yeah! 😉

Attitude

At work I recently encountered another example for why I prefer living and working in Japan rather than living and working in Europe. In the company I work for we have a highly regulated workshop where the staff can give feedback to the manager who is supervising them. The staff fill out a questionnaire anonymously and the result is displayed via a point system. The manager fills out the same questionnaire in a self-assessment. His/her result is compared to the result of the staff people and focus points are jointly agreed between staff and manager. Then the manager leaves the room, and the staff discuss what the manager could improve concerning the focus points in question and presents them to him/her at the end of the workshop in form of suggestions that the he/she is supposed to listen to. The manager does not have to commit to picking up those focus points but most managers going through this process do so in the end.

I moderated such a workshop for one of our managers last week and thought it went pretty well. After the workshop was done I asked one of the participants, a Japanese guy in his fifties, what he thought about this workshop and his first and spontaneous comment was, “man we’re working in a good company. In Japanese companies such a feedback of the staff to the manager does not happen, at least not that I would’ve heard.” Five minutes later I asked a 35-year-old European expat the same question (who earns more than the mid fifties Japanese colleague) and got the answer, “well, the result was a bit meager for spending four hours on it.”
My spontaneous gut-feeling reaction hearing this was: you spoiled ungrateful brat!

I’m living too long in Japan now maybe, but I totally agree to the Japanese colleague who said, man, we’re working in a good company.
Yes, we are. It is not a matter of course that a company offers such a feedback opportunity, paid, during working time.
I think the attitude of the European colleague totally sucks. (The person is not German but from another European country). Europeans live in luxury and yet they are complaining, complaining, complaining. It’s always “but”… Instead of being grateful to be given the opportunity for feedback, that high earning expat whines about the result. And then, you were participating in creating that result, if you had wanted more result, you should have contributed to it!

I think that the “western” individualism is also a factor in the constant complaining about everything. “Westerners” have the tendency to look more for personal gain. The much more group oriented “Easterners” have often a more positive attitude towards the things happening around them and appreciate more what they have. What a difference – what does the Japanese colleague see: a good company. What does the spoiled expat see: we “wasted” four hours on something that is supposed to improve social interaction.
Needless to say, which attitude towards life and work I prefer.
Of course there is a lot of stuff that need improvement in Japan also, but man, Westerners: stop complaining about stuff that is in principle positive and work on your attitude.

The Dumbness of the Masses

I’d like to pick up a bit at where I left off last week. I wrote about that moment of bondage and trust between an international group of people at the company I work for. What happened there during that business trip to Germany let me think about group intelligence and behavior. There are plenty of theories out there about group intelligence going in either direction – a group can be smarter than an individual, as well as, a group can be dumber than the individual. In my opinion it depends largely on the size of the group whether it’s smarter or dumber. In the company I work for it shows again and again that a smaller group of maybe 20 people can be smarter than the individual, but as soon as the group gets larger than let’s say 50 people, the tendency is towards dumber.
The small group of twenty that I wrote about last week excelled and got smarter than the individuals in it. We added to each other’s intelligence with our different experiences and backgrounds. But when we stood in front of the two, three hundred for or presentation, we looked dumbness in the face: the blunt stare of the herd animal in the crowd who relies on what the fellows around it do. There are some, let me call them, protestors who leave and don’t wanna have anything to do with what’s going on, but the majority looks at you with that numb stare of safety in the crowd. A thousand individuals might be smart, but the same thousand in a crowd are stupid especially if they are under some political influence. Look at the masses of people nowadays who follow asshole political leaders. Even if there is an individual intelligence that that leader is bullshit, the individual opinion drowns in peer pressure and conformity. As soon as you can hide in a group, the morale and intelligence level of the individual can sink dramatically.

The large crowd is not only dumb it is also rude.
I sit in an open plan office with 60 people, at the coffee corner everyone “hopes” that someone else will clean up the coffee machine once a week (we don’t have a “system” of who cleans it (yet)). We put candy and chocolate into the coffee corner after we return from business trips or holidays (that’s tradition in Japan). They are gone in an instant, the ravenous crowd grabs up the goodies in fear of not getting their share. Everyone hopes that the next person will empty the shredder and stuffs the last bits of paper into the full bucket until it nearly explodes. If you can hide in a large group where nobody will find out that you behaved “badly”, people do behave badly.
Unfortunately I don’t know a cure for this and the constant appeal at individual responsibility and effort is tiring. I wish we could do without “military” discipline and punishments, but unfortunately humankind doesn’t seem that evolved just yet…

That Thing About Trust

I’ve been on a business trip last week to the headquarters in Germany and attended a three day workshop of the business unit I now work for. The German boss of the unit called for “volunteers” half a year ago to work on “soft” topics like leadership, collaboration, strategy deployment and communication. It’s an interesting group from all over the world. We have members from the US, Mexico, Germany, Hungary, India, China and I’m the representative of Japan. We also have a lady from Cuba in the German team and another Chinese colleague in the German team as well, so it’s not even weird that the representative from Japan office is not Japanese.
We struggled through our workshop and came to a point where we realized that all this talk about better communication and collaboration etc. does not really mean anything, because there is an underlying issue beneath the surface and that’s lack of trust. We don’t trust the management and the management doesn’t trust us and the working level doesn’t trust each other either. So we better start with building trust, but how… we were supposed to present our results at something that we call a “town hall” meeting, meaning the management “gives info” to a few hundred people.

The first hour of the town hall meeting was boring top-down stuff about figures and business situations. The big boss who supports us said, you better stay for the presentation of the “soft stuff” group. Despite that several people left after the facts and figures were done. Then we presented out progress, more people left, then we dared it and “froze”, asking “do you think this will change anything”. People looked confused. We had a deliberate painful moment of silence and finally one of our guys said, “Is this it? Is that all? What about trust?”

We were all very dramatic about it. One of our colleagues then told a story about trust, trying to get people thinking. More people left with shaking heads. We had placed cards with questions under the chairs of people asking stuff like, “Do you trust your colleagues?” “How can we collaborate globally if we don’t even collaborate locally?” and things like that. We asked the remaining folk to discuss these questions. A few did, a few looked bluntly at the cards and talked about I don’t know what.
I hope we managed to reach a few people in the audience. No matter what, at least the twenty of us from the team had a nice “dramatic” and also “human” moment. I don’t think we’ll change too much, but at least that little team has a nice bond now. It really didn’t matter anymore where we come from and at least the few of us are beyond borders, nationalities and prejudices. It’s cool that something like that can happen in a big company and it’s cool that a few rare guys are around who allow something like that to happen (the big boss in Germany). So, all in all it was a tough but also a good week.

That Thing About Collaboration

In a company there are buzzwords going around once in a while, one year it’s “we need to take care of our efficiency” and everybody is talking that topic to death, next year it’s better quality, the year after its strategy and so forth. This year it’s collaboration in the area I work at. We have “collaboration days” events in the engineering area, a month later in sales, since March some initiative on a division-wide global level, trying to get 7000 people to collaborate over all continents… good luck with that!
When I look at the tiny section of 90 people where I’m working at at the moment in Japan – not even we manage to collaborate.
I don’t want to blame my male colleagues but collaboration does not seem to be their thing really, because, let’s face it, there is a constant game going on in the background of who gets promoted and gets a “career” and who doesn’t. Alliances are formed and shift, people are sidelined. For a while it’s the German expats against the Japanese local staff, then a mixed gang against another mixed gang and so forth.

It would be fun to watch if I wasn’t half a part of the silly game. I’m an outsider in the game simply because I’m a woman, and man, am I happy about that, pun intended. When I see my male colleagues at their pissing contests, I’m glad I’m not really a part of the game anyway.
I don’t think women work like that. Don’t get me wrong, the ladies can be super mean to each other but we are mean in a different way, lol.
Last week there so much of “my dick is longer than yours” going on at the office, it was fascinating. It’s exhausting and does not help the matters at hand. A bunch of alpha animals fighting for the best spot is surely not the best model of collaboration. Concepts like collaboration globally and “we are all nice to each other and respect each other” are nice, but in my humble opinion an illusion, since in the end we are all still animals and act much less rational than we think we do, which shows itself in those unnerving alpha male pissing contests… that was a little corporate working life report for a change. Cheers!

Too Much Work

I missed a couple of Saturdays’ blog entries due to too much work and not enough energy left to write for the blog. People are too busy these days. I would very much like to know what life was like before TV and Internet, when you had nothing but a newspaper to read. Also working life has become too busy with global telephone conferences where the lucky Europeans get away with having the conference during midday, but the poor East Asians have to sacrifice their evenings and the poor North Americans their early mornings.
In private life there are too many distractions and also too many obligations “to keep in touch” thanks to the modern forms of communication at our disposal.

Then I hear about a sad case of a co-worker and that puts the busy and hectic business life into perspective again and that reduces its importance and the amount of emotions invested. My colleague has two sons and the older one has a mental health problem. He is 17 but has not attended school for the past year. He dropped out of high school after the first year and has not returned to school since. I don’t know what kind of mental health problem he has, but if he was and is unable to attend any form of schooling for a year, it must be bad. Compulsory education is until the age of 16, so luckily he made that, but all in all the kid’s future looks quite bleak, since he is missing some very important years of his education. One can only hope that he gets back on track soon and finds the energy to resume learning. Even if he does not return to school, he will have to learn some trade to support himself one day. I cannot imagine what it’s like for the parents to see their kid struggle so much.
Things like that put life into perspective again and make the personal bit of stress smaller.

Especially, since in a week from now I will be on the southern hemisphere of our one and only planet because it’ll be “golden week” in Japan (an accumulation of holidays) and I booked a week of getaway to New Caledonia. I will report about my island adventures as usual 😉

Bored by Sarcasm

I am not sure whether this is a German specialty or whether it is more universal, but since I am encountering mostly Germans who practice sarcasm and irony, let me presume it is a feature mostly to be found in that species, and let me add, mostly in German males. Maybe it also comes so much to my attention, because, while irony and sarcasm does of course exist in Japan, it is however rarely used and certainly not for “sport”.
Among an astonishing number of German males whom I’m encountering in business life, sarcasm and irony are a very popular form of expression. Some guys use it in every bloody sentence. It gets immensely on my nerves. While a bit of spice in form of sarcasm does have the capacity to lighten things up; it, dears sirs, used in every sentence, becomes a nuisance and is annoying, useless and tiring.
I seriously wonder why some German males are so attracted to sarcasm. Do they think it makes them sound cool? Apparently. Is it a kind of pissing contest? Do they want to impress me? Dudes, it ain’t working, just leave out the damned sarcasm and have normal conversations with people. If you use irony, do so sparingly and strategically, then it might be funny and interesting. Otherwise, just shut up, please…

Dumb and Dumber

I suppose there are studies and papers being done on the topic by whatsoever professionals, but I don’t care, I just want to state my opinion. It is my firm belief that the number of dumb, uneducated, idiotic people in the “first” world has neither significantly increased or decreased over the past ten or twenty years. Trouble is, twenty years ago, idiots didn’t have a big platform at their disposal to voice their opinions.
If, for example, a flat earth idiocy existed twenty years ago, the educated part of the world did not know too much about it, because all the members of the club of morons could do, was maybe print leaflets and leave them at their local Mac Donald’s.
Nowadays, unfortunately, these idiots do have a global platform and that is social media, which reaches millions and millions… While social media are a great way to connect people from all over the world, unfortunately they also connect the idiots from all over the world and give them a stage. I don’t know what the cure for that could be, since in most cases, idiocy is unfortunately a quite incurable disease. I shall try my best to ignore them and shall try my best to not let them disturb my questionable and endangered peace. Cheers!

Things You Can’t Buy with Money

I have many passions: writing, heavy metal music, movies, traveling, to name the most important ones. There are some smaller passions too like riding my bicycle, playing the piano, chocolate, a tiny bit of gardening and so forth.
At work I do not talk about writing and my books, but since I’m a talkative person, I am making no secret out of being a big heavy metal fan and traveling around the world for concerts and festivals. Thus I am talking about Wacken and 70,000 tons of metal when I go for lunch with colleagues, or I tell one of the colleagues who already knows that I’m a metal head enthusiastically on the way home that Amon Amarth is coming to Japan again for the first time in four years (and I missed them four years ago). The lady’s comment struck me quite a bit as she said, “ah, I wish I had a passion like you”.
Uh!
My sister and I are calling it the “fan gene” and I am sure I have made a blog entry about this topic in the past as well, but who cares. I honestly feel sad for people who do not have a “fan gene” or a passion that makes their blood boil. It is ridiculously important to have your blood boil in a positive way from time to time! It releases stress, it keeps your mind healthy and sane! When you look forward like a little kid to getting on the boat again (70,000 tons of metal in five days, baby) despite being over forty, that is goddamn necessary and I kid you not, a key to happiness. When you look forward to seeing another country, another island, going on an adventure, you can take on more stuff with a smile on your face. If you have no passions like that, man, how dull must life be.
But the thing is, if you don’t have the “fan gene” you simply don’t have it, you can’t force it, either you love it or you don’t. Learning to love something is in my humble opinion only possible to a limited extent.
The passion can cost a lot of money, but the experience you get out of it is priceless and I regret nothing. Do what you wanna do, as long as you can do it, before old age, illness, or crazy politicians put an end to the fun.
I shall meet another 4000 people or so who think the same way in a couple of days if the planes don’t crash or the doomsday clock doesn’t advance to midnight.
Cheers! And in the picture – that’s my gear for the coming week 😉