Smoking

Smoking
God damn! What is it with smoking!
So, I’m sitting here in Dusseldorf, Germany. It’s a lovely day, I’ve had a lovely walk and a lovely meal. I’ve seem some lovely things, and I’m drinking some very lovely wheat beer. There are two almost lovely girls sitting at the table to my right. Nearly irrelevantly, I was here before them, but really, that is a distraction and irrelevant. As soon as they sat down, out came a box of “Pall Mall” fags, and out come a lighter. Both items are remaining on the table for frequent use. Cigarets have been lit up, and drifting smoke is wondering over to me.
I’ve come to a pretty simple position on this. I don’t care about the health effects one jot. In fact, if tomorrow, smoking is found to beneficial, like salad foods that are coloured red, that doesn’t change this entire diatribe one bit.
<<< Stage directions – add in one second of delay between each of the following words, and sound them in your mind with ludicrous gravitas >>>
IT
IS
FUCKING
DISGUSTING
<<< Thank you. First use of caps lock on my Mac. >>>
It makes my eyes sting. It covers up the taste of my meal. It wafts about me and takes my clothes, unkempt hair and skin stink. It’s simple: it’s foul, disgusting, horrible, and extremely inconsiderate.
I look at it like this. If I’m sitting in a restaurant or a café, I don’t listen to music loudly on my headphones, or listen to personal music at all, in fact. I don’t shout obscenities at people passing by, or curse under my breath. I don’t belch. I try not to fart, and if I do, I do it quietly and feel damn embarrassed if it’s a smelly one. If I cough, I cover my mouth. I almost never walk about asking people crazy questions about whether they think the week begins on a Sunday or Monday. I certainly make sure that I’ve washed some time in the last week or so. I don’t sit outside at a nice café and piss myself or crap in my pants. Hypothetically, should this ever happen, I’d leave really quickly. I’d probably make for a loo and try to somehow clean up. I’m not sure what I’d do next.
What I try to do, above all, is not to impinge on other people’s lovely times by being obnoxious.
Incredibly, I am able to pull off this feat – this enormous effort of politeness and tact – almost without the slightest, microscopic, infinitesimal quantum of effort. In fact, I think I can safely say that it requires absolutely no conscious effort on my part whatsoever.
Just occasionally, I screw up. At the moment, for example, I’m wondering if I should approach the two almost lovely girls at the table adjacent, and ask them if they’d like to scan over the very words you are currently reading, while I am writing them. As they’ve just defecated in to the air for the third time since sitting down, it is an urge I’m having considerable trouble repressing.
And here is a problem, I must reflect on the fact that many people might even find my use of a laptop in this jolly nice café extremely unpleasant. They could be offended by my rather shabby shoes; or by my warn black t-shirt, that I noticed earlier while walking by the river, has holes in the armpits. My black socks with “Thursday” embroidered on them in red when it is quite obviously Sunday might cause disquiet. Perhaps, some people, might be offended by me being here single, or by me getting a dollop of quite excellent sauce on my chin while biting from my smashing burger. Given: my hair is in appalling need of very significant attention. Should that be the case, I am truly sorry, and I think within reason, if informed of causing offence, I would try my level best to adjust, or find some way to accommodate the position of those with a different set of priorities to myself.
But – I’m still pretty sure that there is a lot of common ground between us humans sitting in lovely cafés. Shouting vulgarities at passers by is right out. Rubbing your own shit or vomit on your companions, the table, the wall close to you, and flicking the left overs at anyone close by, is similarly frowned upon. It’s just incredible to me that, apparently, lighting up a foul smelling weed rolled up in paper, is apparently still “just fine, no problem, thanks” here in very lovely Dusseldorf.

What is it with smoking!

So, I’m sitting here in Dusseldorf, Germany. It’s a lovely day, I’ve had a lovely walk and a lovely meal. I’ve seen some lovely things, and I’m drinking some very lovely wheat beer. There are two almost lovely girls sitting at the table to my right. Nearly irrelevantly, I was here before them, but really, that is a distraction and irrelevant. As soon as they sat down, out came a box of “Pall Mall” fags, and out came a lighter. Both items are remaining on the table for frequent use. Cigarets have been lit up, and drifting smoke is slithering over to me.

I’ve come to a pretty simple position on this. I don’t care about the health effects one jot. In fact, if tomorrow, smoking is found to beneficial, like salad foods that are coloured red, that doesn’t change this entire diatribe one bit.

<<< Stage directions: please add in one second of delay between each of the following words, and sound them in your mind with ludicrous gravitas >>>

IT

IS

FUCKING

DISGUSTING

<<< Thank you. First use of caps lock on my Mac. >>>

It makes my eyes sting. It covers up the delicious tastes of my meal. It wafts about me and makes my clothes, unkempt hair and skin stink. It’s very simple: it’s foul, disgusting, horrible, and extremely inconsiderate.

Here’s how I look at it. If I’m sitting in a restaurant or a café, I don’t listen to music loudly on my headphones, or listen to personal music at all, in fact. I don’t shout obscenities at people passing by, or curse under my breath. I don’t belch. I try not to fart, and if I do, I do it quietly and feel damn embarrassed if it’s a smelly one. If I cough, I cover my mouth. I almost never walk about asking people crazy questions about whether they think the week begins on a Sunday or Monday. I certainly make sure that I’ve washed some time in the last week or so. I don’t sit outside a nice café and piss myself or crap in my pants. Hypothetically, should this ever happen, I’d leave really quickly. I’d probably make for a loo and try to somehow clean up. I’m not sure what I’d do next.

What I try to do, above all, is not to impinge on other people’s lovely times by being obnoxious.

Incredibly, I am able to pull off this feat – this enormous effort of politeness and tact – almost without the slightest, microscopic, infinitesimal quantum of effort. In fact, I think I can safely say that it requires absolutely no conscious effort on my part whatsoever.

Just occasionally, I screw up. At the moment, for example, I’m battling a near irrepressible urge to approach the two almost lovely girls at the table adjacent, and ask them if they’d like to scan over the very words you are currently reading. As they’re just defecating in to the air for the third time since sitting down, preventing myself from doing this is requiring the application of considerable self control.

And here is a problem, I must reflect on the fact that many people might even find my use of a laptop in this jolly nice café extremely unpleasant. They could be offended by my rather shabby shoes; or by my warn black t-shirt, that I noticed earlier while walking by the river, has holes in the armpits. My black socks with “Thursday” embroidered on them in red, when it is quite clearly Sunday afternoon, might cause disquiet. Perhaps some, might be offended by me being here single, or by me getting a dollop of quite excellent sauce on my chin while munching from my smashing burger. Given: my hair is in appalling need of very significant attention. Should that be the case, I am truly sorry, and I think within reason, if informed of causing offence, I would try my level best to adjust, or find some way to accommodate the position of those with a different set of priorities to myself.

But – I’m still sure there is a lot of common ground between us humans sitting in lovely cafés. Shouting vulgarities at passers by is right out. Rubbing your own shit or vomit on your companions, the table, the wall close to you, and flicking the left overs at anyone close by, similarly, is frowned upon. It’s just incredible to me that, apparently, lighting up a foul smelling weeds rolled up in paper, while people around you are sitting down and trying to eat and drink, is apparently still “just fine, no problem, thanks” here in very lovely Dusseldorf.

The Tap On The Kitchen Wall

As I mentioned on face book, there is a tap in the middle of one wall of the kitchen. When I turn it on, I hear water hiss and dribble like it is escaping, so then I turn it of because it doesn’t sound good.

Tonight, while making pasta and sauce for dinner, I investigated.

I didn’t throw caution to the wind. Instead, I used a torch!

My phone has a torch on the end. It’s the worst phone I have ever owned, and has made me re-asses my simple and to now effective “Nokia only” phone policy. It does have a torch though, and this is brilliant.

When I turn on the tap for a little while and then turn it off because it sounds wrong, the sounds seem to come from below the tap, behind the fridge, and underneath the microwave. So I moved the microwave aside, and behind it is a grill in the work surface above the back of the fridge. There’s lots of hotness coming out of the grill from the fridge’s radiator. Poor fridge. I think it would like more ventilation.

But the grill does let me shine my light in and see what’s there. And what’s there, in the wall, is a hole. When I turn the tap rather gingerly on, hissing and dribbling noises start, and then water comes out of the hole.

It’s not a pipe coming out of the wall, you should understand. It’s a hole in the wall. A hole like you might find in a sea defence wall on the side that the beach is on to let rain water drain through from the side that the road is on. It’s just a hole. And when you turn the tap on, water comes out of it, as if there’s a storm on the road. Very useful if you want to close the doors and windows, and turn the flat in to a swimming pool, but otherwise – curious.

The past sauce is outrageously salty. I didn’t add any salt. It’s all come from the chunky bacon stuff I put in to it. But it’s still jolly nice, so if you’ll excuse me, I’ll continue eating it now. I think the cheese I put on top has had time to melt.

Good night.

Strap on the wall – More flat weirdness

That’s it, really. There’s a strap on the wall. By the bed. I don’t think it’s a kinky thing.

It comes out of a hole, and goes in to another one. It’s white, and looks quite old. It’s nearly, but not quite vertical. I only noticed it after several days, and I’ve not properly examined it yet.

This flat is taking on tinges of Edgar Allen Po, but less dramatic, I hope.

Boule by the Rhein & The Electric Cart Disco

I was just leaving the office.

Outside there is a big strip of gravel that I’d not noticed until tonight. Then there’s a wide band of grass that drops down to a path by the river. It’s a lovely warm evening today, and on the gravel are twenty of so people, in several teams, playing boule.

They’ve got some crates of beer, and very tidy lines scuffed in to the gravel by foot, I think. The game is being played with great friendliness and enthusiasm, but is clearly being taken quite seriously too, as there are rulers in use.

Possibly I’m going mad… No, not a return of the pedal bar. This time a disco passed by, down on the path by the river. A disco on an electric cart. I could tell it was electric, because I could hear the motors.

I will call it “The Electric Cart Disco”.

There was a bloke at the front driving. I think it might have been his disco, so I expect he was also DJing, and perhaps if people joined in, compèring. Certainly, no one else who might have owned it was in chase. I’ve never had a disco on an electric cart before, but I think if someone else drove off on it, I’d chase them. Unless I hired it or lent it to them, perhaps. It was being happily chased by a small girl though, but I don’t think it was hers.

It had lots of light ropes hanging up, a glitter ball going round, and a PA system playing country. It hasn’t particularly registered with the boule players, or the people sitting and relaxing on the grass. It looks like this kind of thing happens quite a lot.

It and he have gone now. In the same direction as the pedal bar, as it happens, but that’s probably an insignificant coincidence.

Maybe if I sit here a bit longer, something else will happen.

Bikes, In-lines and Trams

That’s mostly how people travel here. And walking. There are so many people on bikes, and lots of them are Mums with their children in baby seats on the back.

I’ve not seen any busses. I hear trains, going over a bridge near to my flat, but I’ve not actually seen them. There are cars as well, but lots of people aren’t using them, which is nice.

For some reason, I find the roads here really difficult to cross. I don’t think it’s just because people are using the other side.

I think it might be that in most places there is a cycle lane that is either on the road, or on the pavement. I’ve seen a few signs that show pedestrians and bikes are supposed to politely stick to their particular lane, but most of the time, I’m not sure which part I’m supposed to use.

Yesterday, for example, I realised that I’d completely misunderstood one such sign, and that the bit I thought indicated “No Bike In This Bit, Please!” actually meant “This Part Is For Bikes, Please”. The pavements often use two types of surface, like two colours and shapes of brick. I’m pretty sure these are denoting lanes, rather than just being artistic as I first thought, but which lane is which?

There are some parts that look like pavement too, but turn out to actually be roads. And of course, there are tram tracks.

At crossings, the person, bike / in-line, car lanes, and tram tracks all cross. This seems chaotic, but in a city where everyone waits for a green light before crossing, even when the road is quite empty, I’m sure there is a system in place that has escaped me.

As I cross, I’m never sure where to look out for the trams, bikes, people on in-lines, possible first bus encounters and of course cars.

Even when I wait for a bit and cross when nothing’s in sight, I feel like something’s going to spring out at me, and often enough, something does.

By The Rhein – The Wonderful Pedal Bar

Walking home along the Rhein, I’ve just been passed by a giant, pedal powered, mobile bar, mounted on a kind of large, roofed, trolly. About sixteen entirely soused Germans chaps were peddling along, stationed on stools around a large two sided bar, singing with enormous drunken gusto, slapping each other’s backs and drinking from tall glasses of beer.

At the front, peering from under the bar, a worriedly-sober looking elderly gentleman was steering, making a commendable effort towards keeping the whole show from crashing in to lamp-posts, or toppling in to the river. There was a bar on either side of the cart, and between these two tables and close to the back stood the barman. A cheerier, and certainly more relaxed looking fellow, he was refilling Steiners from barrels clamped down to the bar, trying to keep up with the evident thirst of the cycling revellers, and enthusiastically joining with their songs.

As they cycled and sang, the ensemble trembled, squeaked, wobbled, and weaved a little. I think my eyes went in to fish eye to take it all in, and with the drinker’s strange costumes and hats, and the bar’s cheerful bunting and striped awning to keep off the sun, I think I know what it’s like to be in Terry Gilliam’s mind now.

I was so completely enthralled. I didn’t have the presence of mind to take a photo, or even wonder how the pedals made the wheels go around. I waved instead, and they waved back.

In Germany?!

I’ve not blogged for an age!

Events overtook me in a big way with Get Running. Actually getting it on the App store took about a month as it had one rejection (an OS 3.0 bug) and we were on holiday at the time. It’s now there though, and it’s third update is currently in review! You can find Get Running in the iTunes store or have a look at the beautiful pages Matt created for it at the Splendid-Thing site.

I should briefly mention that as well as my brother Sam providing the artwork for Get Running, a friend Matt has done all of the web site work. The audio that is used in Get Running is all the voice of another friend Clare, and it was recorded by her Husband Rico (who’s a musician, and knows his sound recording). It’s been awesome working with these people, and it’s great to know that when the cheque comes from Apple, I’ll be sharing it with other people that helped to make this work.

I’m still running with Get Running, and finished week 5 run 2 this morning. If mathematics bells are ringing in your head, then you’re right. I ought to be much further along than I am now. I should have finished weeks ago, in fact! I had an injury in July that stopped me running for a few weeks. I was climbing over a fence, you see, and landed really badly when I jumped down the other side. *sigh* I should know better, shouldn’t I – Yes! I should be better at climbing fences! I then also had an no runs period because … because I just didn’t for a bit. Fitting it in seemed to be tricky for a bit, and I wanted to spend what spare time I had with my Misa and Robi.

Get Running is doing pretty nicely though. In the UK it’s been at about 15 in Health and Fitness for quite a while, and I think it’s got a good chance of staying about there. In the US, its fortunes haven’t been so good. Following an update it spent a heady day or so at about number 10, but then it started a long gradual decline. It’s still in the top 100, but I’m not sure it will stay there. I’m kind of hoping that it might pick up there – I think a few more really glowing reviews would do the world of good.

Germany?

Yes! I’m temporarily working as a freelancer in Dusseldorf, Germany, on some pretty cool graphics and navigation applications for the iPhone. I’m missing Robi and Misa, but it is nice feeling like I’ve definitely got enough spare time to go out and run! I’ll see them in another week anyway.

On Monday morning I’ve got my longest run yet, by far. It’s w5-r3, which is 20 minutes of straight running. I don’t feel very confident of finishing it, and if I don’t, it’ll be the first time I’ve not completed a run that I’ve started. Still, that’s not a very winning attitude 🙂 I’ll try to get my head in order before hand!

I think I’m going to try and blog a bit more often. I’ve noticed that I write lots of stuff in lots of places (emails, facebook, twitter), and it would be nice to put everything in to one place, really. Certainly while I’m over here it makes sense to.