I’m not mad.

Ich bin euch nicht böse (okay, ein bisschen weil ihr es besser wissen könntet), wenn ihr die Reaktionen bzgl. COVID-19 für übertrieben haltet. Sicher gibt es ein Element der Panik, von dem mensch sich nicht anstecken lassen muss. Dennoch, die Vorgaben Schulen zu schließen, usw. basieren auf Daten (data-driven decision making, yo!), sind rational und wichtig. Ich habe am 30. Januar mit einem Freund ein Bier getrunken, dessen Familie in Wuhan lebt. Er hat mir von den Erlebnissen seiner Eltern, Onkel und Tanten berichtet als die Stadt abgeriegelt wurde. Ich muss zugeben, dass ich nicht begriffen habe was er mir erzählt hat. Ich habe ihm zugehört und mich gefragt warum seine Stimme zittert. Jetzt fällt ein Urlaub auf den ich mich seit Monaten freue ins Wasser, wir haben Karten für 5-6 Events, die nicht stattfinden,… das tut weh, aber es ist okay. Ein Bekannter von mir in Deutschland wurde positiv getestet (er ist soweit okay), aber ich habe Krebskranke, Diabetiker, HIV-Positive Menschen in meinem Freundeskreis, und meine Schwiegermutter hat gerade ihre Chemo gut hinter sich. COVID-19 ist “close to home” wie man auf Englisch sagt und damit meint, dass es persönlich und emotional wird. Ich verstehe jetzt wieso die Stimme meines Freundes zitterte, und helfe anderen soweit ich es kann. Was ich sagen will: die gedankliche Verarbeitung des Geschehens um COVID-19 ist ein Prozess der dauert, der sich verändert. Ich gestehe jeder_em zu, dass ihr noch braucht um zu begreifen, dass soziale Abschottung notwendig ist. Ich wünschte es wäre nicht so. Ich wünschte, es wäre leichter zu begreifen, leichter begreifbar zu machen, was passiert bevor in meinem Freundes- und Bekanntenkreis jemand einen schweren Krankheitsverlauf hat… aber so sind Menschen eben. seufz Helft euch gegenseitig, arbeitet von daheim wenn ihr könnt, helft Nachbarn mit Kindern, lasst euch Essen liefern, geht in Restaurants und nehmt das Essen mit heim statt vor Ort zu essen, fragt Bars oder Clubs ob ihr 5€ per Paypal schicken und einen virtuellen Drink bestellen könnt, gebt mehr Trinkgeld wenn ihr könnt, nutzt Videochats,… Ich wünsche euch Gesundheit, Ruhe, und ein Umfeld, dass euch unterstützt. Mit zittrigen Fingern, Euer Ben/Benny/Benjamin

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Goodbye, Sweet Prince. Or: me trying to write a eulogy for Doctor Evil, the sweetest cat in the world according to pretty much everyone.

Goodbye, Sweet Prince. Or: me trying to write a eulogy for Doctor Evil, the sweetest cat in the world according to pretty much everyone. Summer 2019: I’m sitting upstairs at my desk, and finish work for the day. It’s been a long day; well actually, it’s been a long couple of days. I feel empty and tired because I haven’t slept well during the last week or so. I turn to my right. The light that’s coming in from the west-facing window is orange, no, a warm bronze color. This is where you loved to sit every afternoon. You would come up the stairs where you’d sometimes sit around noon, bathing in the sun coming in through the small window at the top of the stairs. You’d yell at me, telling me to give you my attention. I learned to wait for you, ready to take my afternoon coffee break. I’d pull up the Venetian blinds for you in advance to make sure that the daybed below the window was warm from the afternoon sun. You’d jump onto the daybed, and lie down, looking majestic as f*ck, waiting to be pet. I’d fill my mug with coffee, sit down next to you and start petting you. Purrr purrr purrr. February 2015: I’ve visited and spent the night at Corinna’s new place for the first time. It’s winter and below freezing outside. Sometime last night, you jumped up the door handle, held on tight, and opened the door to Cori’s bedroom from outside to get in and sleep in your hammock next to the bed. I’m incredibly curious to touch and get to know you because I’ve only seen you briefly when I arrived yesterday; you were not interested in me at all. I’ve never met a Sphinx cat before. Now, you eye me with a curiosity similar to mine, stretch your long, muscular front legs, yawn some more, and get up. 2 minutes later, you’re sitting on my chest. Purrr purrr purrr. Between these two points in time are so many memories, pretty much all of them happy ones, and I have a hard time picking another one or a favorite one in general. Initially, I wanted to describe at least three of them in this text but I think the two moments above cover my relationship with you,  Doktor Evil, well. We just loved each other the moment we met. You always wanted to be the one to make contact, and the people who gave you enough space were always rewarded with your unconditional love. You were my first cat and you’ve just been the best at it. We had to let you cross the rainbow bridge today, and I’m incredibly sad, but also incredibly grateful to have met you.  I can’t thank you enough for your love and affection, and I miss you terribly, my little prince. Your human, Ben.

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Icebergs and other things

I spent last week at the most important developer conference for Apple’s software ecosystem and met my Apple developer family, including “family members” that I hadn’t seen in years. They all wanted to know how I am doing either because we had a lot of catching-up to do, or because people have been in-the-know about the rollercoaster ride of 2019 (I post pretty much everything that’s going on on Twitter). They REALLY wanted know how I was doing and how I am “holding up”. It took me a bit to understand that they really wanted to know this because I couldn’t understand how they would ask such a question among the chit-chat of such a large conference. Eventually, I realized that people were actually expecting a long and maybe complicated answer, and I found myself chatting rather lightly about what has been going on and what I’ve been up to. Truth is, I had actually stopped being conscious about my feelings. This was a tough pill to swallow, as I pride myself in being honest to my friends and to myself. For the past few days, I haven’t been entirely sure if my answers during the “dubdub” week have been completely honest.I have spet this past weekend trying to figure out how exactly I am doing “with everything that’s been going on” and I realized thata) There is a simple answerb) It’s sort of an iceberg situation, where you only see the tip of what’s going on and the majority of “stuff” is underneathc) The question should be “where are you and how do you feel?” and that now is the time to write about 2018 and 2019. Let’s start with the simple answer: I’m OKAY. Seriously, I’m alright. I’m pretty resilient to this stupid rollercoaster; and it surprises me a bit. It means that the years of behavioral therapy through my 20s, my exercises in awareness and meditation made me a stronger, (mentally) healthy person. This feels very liberating and comforting.I typically — and this is what I often do without thinking — behave according to a “protocol” that my behavioral therapist taught me, and that my wife wrote on a note that she gave to me for my first day on my new job. It reads: Pause.Breath.Smile.Communicate.You can do it! It helps in situations where I don’t feel okay, or where I feel like things are too much. It literally is my secret to being OKAY. Now that this basic information is out of the way, let’s talk about the iceberg’s size below the water. It’s March 2018, it’s Sunday afternoon, I’m sitting next to my wife in a café in Boston and we’re chatting with a friend of mine that I haven’t seen in almost 10 years and we’re having the best time.It’s 5 minutes later, and my wife returns form the bathroom, tears running down her face. Her brother had had a fatal accident. I cannot believe it and hug her. It feels surreal.The next morning,[…]

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Another story from a commute

There was a golden spot and it was dancing on the otherwise grey ceiling of the bus. It moved around for quite a bit, dancing left and right, then hovering around next to the skylight – which was closed shut because it was October and temperatures had already dropped. Looking for a source, she tilted her head a little, searching for a reflective surface like a watch, glasses or a mirror. “Maybe someone’s refreshing their makeup?“, she thought. “If this was still the 90s, I’d look for someone switching CDs in and out of their discman but, hey, this is 2018, teenagers wouldn’t even know what a discman was?!”. She thought about her teenage self, working a part-time job, saving several weeks worth of her salary to buy an original model and not one of the cheap knock-offs. The TV commercial for it had had a voice over that said: “THE DISCMAN – NOW WITH 10 SECONDS OF SHOCK PROTECTION! LISTEN TO YOUR FAVORITE TUNES EVEN WHEN YOU’RE ON THE RUN!”. She caught herself staring into the void and decided to look up again. It was still there, a bright, golden fleck of light, hovering above other passengers’ heads across the walkway of the bus. “Heck, it was raining outside, so where did it come from?!” It had been a long and exhausting day at work, and she loved little distractions like this. It was why she actually enjoyed commuting by bus. This is when she noticed the guy sitting one row to the right of her. He, very obviously, had biked to the bus stop. He wore a colorful biker’s shirt made of polyester which had several – probably some sponsors? – emblems on it, none of which she recognized. “One of the local cyclist’s clubs!?”, she said to herself. He still had his helmet on, and there, on its top, was a spotlight and very obviously still switched on, moving with every turn and nod of its owner. She smiled, reached into her purse, grabbed her headphones, put them on, and started the music app on her phone which was in “random” mode. It played “Ironic” by Allanis Morrisette which had been one of her favorite songs back in the day which was on endless rotation in her diskman. “I love life!”, she thought and smiled some more.

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This is John Heartfield

I had coffee on the couch this morning and read a name (John Heartfield) in a tweet and remembered that I had read about him a long time ago and ended up reading his Wikipedia page and for some reason, I felt like I wanted to write some stream of consciousness (poetry?) and share some artwork and art with it. Feel free to leave a comment about my words, the Wikipedia entry, his work, etc. Have a nice weekend everyone! A heart’s field. Hearts are weird and funny and interesting creatures Open and wide and inviting Soft and warm and cosy A room can light up when one enters it Warm and soft to touch Grieving, longing, loving, hating Warmig and softening other hearts They can be hard as steel, closed shut and impenetrable Heartfelt greetings, hugs, condolences Cold and cruel, wounding other hearts The loneliest or the busiest of places A field in which to grow love, passion, hate and a lot of or no fucks at all My heart is a diamond Hearts can be stolen, given, kept, shared Have you ever eaten one? Traveling with a light heart and a spring in one’s step The Heartland of America, of democracy, of fear. Fearful hearts are dangerous things Wikipedia – John Heartfield Graphik Magazin – John Heartfield

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A Commuting Story

The sun had barely made it through the thick fog today. Its golden rays fought their way through the autumn fog, turning the world into a golden autumn wonderland. Not for him, he stared into his reflection in the black mirror. He sighed. He was getting his tan during a weekly appointment at one of these luxurious spas that take male clients. He did not want random sunlight to touch his spray-tanned skin. He slid into his winter coat, pulled it’s hood over his head and reached into his pocket. After all, the black mirror didn’t care whether he was wearing sunglasses or not.

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Traveling with our Fräulein.

Disclaimer a) Ich bin faul, weshalb es diesen Post nur auf Englisch gibt. No Tschermähn this time 😉 b) I’m not a professional for travelling with pets and the stuff below is just my experience, you cannot hold me accountable for anything. TL;DR Flying with our Fräulein is easy and we’re doing it again. Your milage will vary depending on your dog and/or airline. Let me start with a little background information. Corinna has travelled to Germany with our little Fräulein Knopf twice now and people have been asking me/us about it ever since, so I thought it to be a good idea to write a blog post about it. Here we go. Flying with a pet in general First, what’s flying with a pet like in general? Well, it’s pretty easy actually, there’s not much difference to riding with a bus with a dog. You buy a ticket for the animal, board the bus/plane and that’s about it. The devil – as usual – is in the details. The “ticket” for a dog is somewhere between $100 and $150 per trip for your dog if you take it in the cabin, for Germany this means $300 round-trip for your pet. You need to book this ticket at least 24 hours in advance and the airline can refuse to accept the pet if there are already several pets on the plane in the cabin. Yet, we haven’t heard or read of any occasion where this was a problem. It probably is just some fine print to scare people away. Next, your pet needs to be well behaved and must not pee or poop places. That’s okay. You can only take small pets with you in the cabin and they need to stay in their carrier at all times. Airlines have weight restrictions for the pet and size restrictions for the carrier. Some airlines have breed restrictions as well. If a pet is too big or the carrier is not approved, the pet needs to go into the belly of the plane – I have no idea how expensive that is, I’m assuming it’s more expensive and you need to book that transportation well in advance. Planes have a special area in the cargo hold that is pressurized and heated so pets don’t explode or freeze. Personally, I would not take my pet there but that’s up to you. If you have a service animal or emotional support animal, they travel for free and the size limitation to travel in the cabin does not apply to them. Each airline has a different policy but in the end it’s just paperwork and preparation in advance. Next, you need proper paperwork for your dog if you are travelling internationally. Some countries like the U.K. or Australia are completely out of bounds for pets as they require very long quarantine times, etc. but mostly it’s some vaccination, a micro ship and paperwork by a vet. Before leaving the US, the airline will review the[…]

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#abenteuerseattle 2018

Es ist 2018, das 3. Jahr #abenteuerseatte ist dieses Jahr dann vorbei. Es ist fast surreal, dass wir schon solang hier sind. Solange, wie anfangs mal grob angepeilt. Irgendwann 2016 war mir aber schon klar, dass es dabei nicht bleiben wird. Ob wir je “zurück” gehen werden? Bisher habe ich da meine Zweifel. Aus Deutschland fehlen nach wie vor Menschen, die mir ein Heimatsgefühl geben, sei es wenn ich sie in Skype oder in echt beim Urlaub in D sehe. Heimaturlaub kann ich zu letzterem aber schon nicht mehr dazu sagen. Dafür gefallen mir Leben, Natur, Land und Leute hier einfach zu gut. Ob Seattle für immer ist? Das wiederum kann ich nicht sagen, dafür vertraue ich “für immer”s abseits meiner Ehe nicht genug. Allerdings, ich wüsste aktuell nur einen Grund um überhaupt in Richtung Deutschland auch nur im Ansatz zu denken – falls ich oder meine Frau sterbenskrank wären, und selbst dann…hier ist es schlicht zu schön und mein Job bietet genügend Sicherheit. Seattle gibt mir Heimatsgefühle, das Gefühl angekommen zu sein, das Gefühl, nie wieder weg zu wollen. Und meine Intuition, der ich so vieles (meinen Job, mehrere Freundschaften, meine Beziehung zu Corinna,…) zu verdanken habe, sagt einfach, dass Seattle und Washington State mein Hafen sind. In diesem Sinne: auf 2018 und viele weitere Jahre #abenteuerseattle!

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“Komm, wir spielen Gott!” oder wie ich für mein Essen tötete.

(Ein sehr langer Text, als Erinnerung für mich, und für den Fall, dass doch wer neugierig ist) <UPDATE>Eine Lokalzeitung, der Yakima Herald, hat mich für einen kurzen Artikel interviewt und mittlerweile ist der kurze Bericht mit 2 Zitaten von mir online. </UPDATE> Wiesu denn blus? Vor einigen Jahren, ich meine so 2009 oder 2010, begann ich mich mit dem, was ich so esse zu beschäftigen. Ich kaufte so viel “Bio” wie ich mir eben leisten konnte und 2011 oder 2012 hörte ich dann auf Fleisch zu essen. Ich aß ab und an noch Fisch, aber ich wollte mich an dem für mich unwürdigen Umgang mit Tieren nicht beteiligen. Ich mochte den Geschmack von Fleisch dennoch sehr und bin 1–2x im Jahr dann zu Feiertagen zu meinem örtlichen Bioladen gestiefelt und habe dort Fleisch von einem Metzger, der seine wilden Rinder erjagt (kein Witz), gekauft. Alles andere, also Gemüse, Milchprodukte, usw. gab es so sehr bio wie möglich in meiner wöchentlichen Demeter/Bioland/Bio-Kiste. Manches dann aus finanziellen Gründen halt doch nur in “supermarktbio”. Ich dachte darüber nach, den Angelschein zu machen (was in Baden-Württemberg nicht ganz einfach ist, ) und habe mich informiert, was mensch den so tun muss, um in Deutschland jagen zu können: es ist nicht einfach, nicht gerade billig und letztendlich habe ich das dann nicht weiter verfolgt. Schon damals fand ich mich sehr inkonsequent und irgendwann, im Sommer 2015, hab ich dann wieder angefangen regelmäßiger Fleisch zu essen. Losgelassen hat mich das Thema nie. Mehr oder minder konsequent versuche ich, bewusst zu konsumieren, besonders beim Fleisch. Ich finde den Gedanken, mir meinen Fleischkonsum zu erarbeiten – das auf Milchprodukte und Gemüse auszudehnen verbaut mir meine kapitalistische Faulheit –, also mir meinen Braten oder meine Wurst zu erjagen – ziemlich gut. Ich habe dann irgendwann – fastforward zu dem Umzug in die USA – wieder mehr über das Jagen, nachgedacht. Hier im pazifischen Nordwesten hat praktisch jede_r, die_der hier aufgewachsen ist, schon nach Krabben gefischt, geangelt, nach wilden Austern und Muscheln gesucht. Mich fasziniert das. Und so kam dann eines zum anderen, ich wollte sowas auch gerne tun. Um zu sehen, ob ich das überhaupt kann, um zu sehen, ob ich mir mit Gewalt zu einem Sonntagsessen verhelfen kann. Als ich dann im Juni mit meinem Schwiegervater das erste Mal Hochseeangeln war, war das auch wieder ein Schubser in diese Richtung. Der Weg auf’s Schlachtfeld Nach dem Hochseeangeln – wir haben zu zweit insgesamt 14 Barsche und 2 Lengdorsche erlegt und bekamen noch 5 Dungenoness Crabs (große, pazifische Taschenkrebse) – beschäftigte ich mich mit dem Thema “Töten für Essen” wieder mehr. Ich lernte Menschen kennen, die seit ihrer Kindheit jagen. Corinna und ich machten einen Anfängerkurs für das Schießen mit Schrotflinten, redeten mit Menschen, die ganz über Waffen reden, als wäre es etwas Alltägliches (ein Thema, dass ich hier nur anreisse und über das ich seitenweise schreiben könnte). Jedenfalls: ich wollte so wirklich gerne jagen gehen. Dazu muss man hier einen Jagdschein machen, was mit einem Onlinekurs und einem Tag[…]

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Never again.

I listened to the new eposiode of the „Pod Save the World“ podcast today, and I would recommend everyone listen to it (link below). The interviewee, Dr. Karen Donfried, mentions that the US and the press focused of Angela Merkel‘s re-election and does not fully understand (I‘m paraphrasing) why the election of the AFD into the Bundestag is such an unthinkable thing to many (most?) Germans. Today, I read an article (thx to Silke for sharing!) that features the experience of a man, now 78 years old, and what he witnessed at 11 years old. The full text is very long, and you can translate it through your favorite online tool. The following paragraph (translation by me) is what struck me the most. Bear in mind that the AFD and it‘s members of parliament *shudder* talk about HUNTING DOWN people/politicians/… and TO MAKE SURE GERMANY IS PROUD OF THE ACHIEVEMENTS BY THE WEHRMACHT: This is what happend after Hitler was dead, in the city of Schwerin: „The soldiers had bound the woman‘s arms on her back, she had a cartboard sign [strapped?] to her chest. It had large, red, printed letters on it that read: „This is what a German woman and mother said: Thank god, the Führer is dead!“ They brought her to the lamppost. Her head had sunk onto her chest, her grey, straggly hair hung into her face. She raised her head once, shook her hair out ofnher face, trying to get a better orientation. Her face was full with her blood, she must have been tortured brutally. She wore a reddish brown, small sqared dress, brown socks and brown shoes with half-sized [meaning tiny] heels. Because we were so close, we were able to hear her sobbs.“ The story goes on, and they hang her right there (it‘s very cruel and senseless and hard to grasp). There are many, many more stories like this. Just imagine a political party, in a country with Germany‘s legacy and experiences, using Nazi rethoric to threaten their opponents. I wish the country would unite in building national identity around „Never again!“ instead of „us versus them“. Never again! Love, Benjamin The source for the text is: https://www.svz.de/regionales/mecklenburg-vorpommern/zeitzeuge-erinnert-an-grausamen-nazi-mord-id4017316.html This is the episode of Pod Save the world: https://art19.com/shows/pod-save-the-world/episodes/683f1ab0-6e28-47f3-a5d8-3cc6fb4d5516/embed?theme=dark-blue

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