We met with Edouard’s brother and Nici at their apartment. I instantly felt incredibly welcomed by them both, sitting down, eating saucisson, drinking beers and exchanging stories until we were laughing. It was such an amazing feeling just knowing that we were starting somewhere. We wasted no time, making appointments for the very next day. […]
One day many months ago, and while engaged in a spate of link jumping, I came across the YouTube video-diaries of the S.V.Delos. They document a continuing 7-year sailboat journey which started in Seattle, and then down to Mexico and eventually to Polynesia, Thailand, and on to Africa. They have subsequently crossed the Atlantic to the Brazilian coast, and will likely sail up to the Caribbean and beyond. They have amassed a huge following on YouTube, with almost a quarter of a million subscribers, and another 70,000 on Facebook. Their effort is paid for by their followers, usually in small amounts of $5 or $10 a month. It is a fair exchange: a quality travelogue, a useful primer on sailing around the world and, most of all, sheer entertainment.
The three have room for several guests and, over the span of their videos, the follower is introduced a rotating cast of fellow travelers, all of whom have added to the Delos experience as well as my own. I have also begun following one diary of a recent crew member, and appreciate the style of her story-telling. Now ashore, Elizabeth is on a new adventure
In the true spirit of link jumping, YouTube has the pesky feature where it offers suggestions to watch similar videos that might be of interest. Of course, I eventually found the S.V. Sand Flea and the Sailboat Story. Their tales are completely different than those of Delos, as we follow a family of three through the Intra-Coastal Waterway from Maryland to southern Florida, and then onto the Bahamas. The family that sails together.. um.. well, they are happy and I love their interactions and explorations.
Exploring the world via exploring the web – and I am the Captain and the Navigator.
I am much more of a reader than a writer. That might explain why the tempus indeed did fugit since my last entry.
Being retired is a wonderful experience, in that I can indulge in things that I enjoy. Flexible schedules suit me, and I am beholden to few external demands. Of course, the demands of the cats require attention to their desired routines, and my wife who must be obeyed” intercedes now and then with a reminder to do this chore or that, and forthwith. But generally, I am thoroughly enjoying exploring the vast expanse of the web.
In 1753 Samuel Johnson imagined a time when “writers will, perhaps, be multiplied, till no readers will be found.” Three years later, he wrote that England had become “a nation of authors” in which “every man must be content to read his book to himself.” Well, he was surely on to something. Whether it be news, commentary, video expression, debate, or explorations into the glorious corners of human endeavor, the onlooker might sense my footsteps.
It has been a year of sorrow with the trajectory of affairs in my homeland: the rise of fascism, the hateful divisions and the drive to undo everything good that Trump’s predecessor had accomplished. The perps say that they wish to “Make America Great Again”, and will even offer to sell a hat proclaiming such. Only $25, with the funds going to Trump’s burgeoning legal expenses. But America is already great. The problem is that we are squandering our greatness by pursuing foreign and domestic policies that debase our moral authority and the values that made America great in the first place. The values of the Founders, the moral authority to achieve good in the world, they are what is being tossed to the trash bin. I still trust that the innate common sense of the American people will be roused, and show these thugs the door.
If I do have one long-term project, it is learning this new language. I was given a three-year residence permit, and must demonstrate a certain minimum level of proficiency for it to be made permanent. It is not just the gender and case inflections, but also the word order and endless compounding of words into new and much longer ones. I am making progress in the simple vocabulary of daily life, and the basics of verb conjugations (with pronouns.) My pronunciation improves every day, but my reading comprehension far exceeds the auditory. It is as if I hear a word that sounds familiar and then jump into trying to recall its meaning, all the while allowing the other important words of the sentence to fade away. I know, I know.. Write it down, read it and say it. Over and over and over again. Eleven months to go.
But I am happy to be here.
So, it has been only five days since the momentous election in my homeland. Watching the campaign from afar had both benefits and drawbacks. I was spared the crush of political ads on radio and television, as well as a mailbox stuffed daily with tinder for the fireplace. I don’t think that political “robo-calls” are allowed in Germany, but I will learn more during next year’s Federal Election campaign – – a duration of 7 weeks!
I was not at a loss, however, from the daily ups and downs of the Presidential campaign back in the States. Television here offered CNN and the BBC, as well as various German-based all news sites. Daily, I read the NY Times, the Washington Post, Slate, Salon, The Guardian, the Raleigh News and Observer, and a whole host of websites left and right. I surely understood the conventional wisdom offered by major and minor parties, and formed my own impressions from a subset of them. It is only now that I can see I did not quite understand the country’s mood.
I did miss working with friends on the campaigns in NW North Carolina, where Republicans won almost every post on the ballot, save for Obama’s wins in 2008 and 2012. I missed the days working outside of early-voting sites, trying to influence one vote at a time. I missed speaking up as a surrogate at various events and venues, or helping with the logistics for a candidate’s local visit.
I did not wish to cast my vote early, rather I relished standing in line on Election Day. On that day, everyone’s vote was equal (the Electoral College and gerrymandered districts notwithstanding). I would stay up all night watching the returns while simultaneously surfing results online. I always took the Wednesday off from work so as to finally sleep.
This year, I believed what I wished to believe, and slipped a little too far into the echo-chamber. I believed the polls, believed the mainstream pundits and never really stepped back to get the larger picture. In Germany, I could not feel the pulse for myself.
Fifteen months ago, I left my homeland and started a new chapter in northern Germany. My parents and siblings were gone, I have no children, and my wife needed to be close to her elderly parents.
We found a 108 year-old house in the country, next to a dairy and horse farm. Built strong, with walls made thick with concrete, brick and stone.
There is an apple orchard, an indoor pool, a well-tended garden full of rhododendron, roses, and perennials for every season.
We started with four years of firewood split, stacked and covered, 2000 liters of fuel oil, and no A/C.
And I am retired. Funny, because I am not yet tired.