This blue marble

– and yet it spins


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Only ice

icewakesThis was Helsinki in mid-March, caught underneath the ever-swirling polar vortex of the winter and spring of 2018. The cruise liner looks like one that shuttles between Helsinki and Tallinn, the capital of Estonia. All cruise liners on the Baltic Sea are icebreakers, too. One has to dress according to weather, you see.

(Helsinki, Finland; March 2018)


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About Amsterdam and existentialism

amsterdam-1After 6.5 years I was back in Amsterdam. It was beautiful, as always in spring, and every cell in my body screamed “get me out of here!!!”. For four days I stayed on the South side of the Singel, and mostly even on the South side of the Amstelkanaal. At least I got to explore areas new to me.

I am currently reading a book on existentialism (Sartre, Beauvoir and the likes. Kierkegaard and Nietzsche if you are liberal). Existentialism as a philosophical movement claims that nothing has a purpose and that everything just Is, until you yourself make a choice and thus make meaning out of chaos. While existentialism is not my cup of tea, I can see how liberating it is to just let go of every meaning, memory, and association to pain: simply stating that I am free to choose and if I do not choose to make meaning out of it, it does not exist. It never did. Pain only exists when we choose to give it existence and meaning in association to something else important in our lives. If we just choose to be free, pain is gone. Poof. Neverwas.

(Thank goodness I could return home after just 4 days)amsterdam-2(Amsterdam, The Netherlands; March 2018)


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What is beauty?

factoriesWhat do you think, is this photo beautiful? Do you see light, color, and fluffy clouds matching the fluffy smoke? Or do you see a planet in destruction, no trees and no Nature anywhere?

Is there a collective, pan-human sense of esthetics, or is what our mind considers beautiful conditioned by the surroundings we are subjected to? How much of our sense of esthetics is objective, focusing on for example form, color, and light; and how much is subjective, weighed down or lifted up by our personal values, memories, and associations?

Complicated thoughts one morning above the Netherlands.

(The Netherlands; March 2018)


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Interlude: moomins in hiding

moomin-2One bleak Saturday we stopped by at the Helsinki Art Museum’s permanent exhibition of Tove Jansson’s works. You know, the author and artist behind all things Moomin. There were two large frescoes, one showcasing a party on the countryside and another a party in the city. All very 1940s post-war joy. And then I saw a little moomin, hiding away behind flowers and a glass of champagne. Right there, in a quite seriously adult piece of art.

Turning to the mural Rest after Work, I discovered a little Sniff hiding behind some other flowers. There he was, probably resting after a day’s efforts of not having to work at all.

I am now convinced that Tove Jansson never knew how to be 100% serious about her work. Good on her. Delivering results does not mean kill your sense of humor. moomin-1(HAM, Helsinki, Finland; March 2018)


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Waiter, there is a bath duck in my minibar

bathduckI know it is late in the day and my brain is probably not at full capacity, but why is there a bath duck in Tirolean gear wedged into the shelf in my minibar?

I sincerely hope this duck has not been in a bathtub. According to a recent publication, the insides of bath ducks are happy homes for astounding amounts of bacteria, not all of them good for our health. While I am aware that our own bodies have larger numbers of bacteria than human cells, I do not favor any additional bugs in the minibar of my hotel room.

(Did some research. Apparently they are collectibles for charity. Points to Hilton for creativity, though.)

(Munich, Germany; March 2018)