– photographs and messages from inside the Sausurrean Bar –

Category: sometimes I write texts about stuff that happens in my life

Archive for the ‘sometimes I write texts about stuff that happens in my life’ Category

Wednesday, July 4th, 2012

La grande expérience

The French word ‘expérience’ means both ‘experience’ and ‘experiment,’ and I am quite fond of the overlap of meanings, because sometimes great experiements are totally also great experiences, and the other way around, non? Mais oui! If you’re thinking that I might be using this introduction to talk about the possible discovery of the Higgs particle you are mistaken, however – although if its discovery holds true then that is surely one of the great discoveries of the decade.

I was tempted to write ‘of our age’ – a term more lyrical and also a lot more vague. And whose age, anyway? Mine or yours? Mine is 33 right now, but rising steadily (and hopefully continuing to rise for a long looong time). And aaaanyway. The grande expérience of the title is not, by comparison, all that grande. It just feels a bit like one, since it entails deconnecting and reconnecting a lot of familiar habits and movements and brain-hand-coordination shortcuts and well-worn tracks.

If you’ve met me – and if you pay attention to these things (which not everyone does, and if you don’t, fair enough) – you might have noticed that I am very definitely and rather strongly left-handed. I did, however, and for reasons I cannot recall, learn to play the guitar the ‘right’ way around, and while I have no problems learning all sorts of chords, playing more intricate rhythms is oh-so-frustrating and challenging and feels impossible … and as skills progress that divergence of fluidity and adaptability becomes ever more apparent.

This is where the experiment comes in… .

I’ve maintained for years that I really only need one guitar, and certainly only one six-string guitar, and if at all then I would, once my skills are advanced enough, maybe, possibly, eventually acquire a twelve-string. But not a second six string, no sir.

Well, let’s relativise that to … one guitar … for each hand, ok?

I invested some of the money I made selling things on paypal (my collection of Status Quo CDs is apparently now making someone in Arizona very happy, I am pleased to say) in the cheapest-yet-decent left-handed guitar I could find*, and it just arrived – and its certainly okay for the purpose I acquired it for – trying to see whether or not I have the diligence, patience, and skill to essential re-train both my hands into doing the opposite of what they’re used to doing, and whether the (hopefully) added agility regarding rhythms offsets the loss of chord changing swiftness and ease. I expect it to be a rather frustrating experience, really … but I’ll see how it goes! And if I end up realizing that I’d rather stick to what I am used to … then that’s a fair enough outcome, as well. If you never try, you never know! I’ll keep you posted! :-)

* I also invested about a tenner into a flute, because how hard can it be? Small children learn to play it. And a krix. Actually, I initially only wanted to buy a krix. Ooops? For science!

Tuesday, July 3rd, 2012

Two Handles

I returned from Regensburg yesterday but didn’t do very much except unpack, look at my work preparation for today* and go to sleep, and today it’s been classes and meetings and composing exams and thinking about next term and what novels to put on the reading list for the BA 6 project and so there’s not much to relate that’s non-work. I’ve also had what I hope is but a tension headache since around noon and it’s being resistant to paracetamol, so I’ll go and see whether sleep will do the trick instead – it’s at the point where distraction works well enough for long enough stretches of time so that I got a good amount of work done anyway, and then took it as an excuse to finally watch Juliet & Julia. Alas, I have no great feelings about the movie to relate, other than that Meryl Streep is brilliant as always, and I’d totally buy that cookbook now, if it wasn’t for how I ought really not to have butter, and dairy and gluten are out as well. But the rest of the movie … well, I’ve seen better and I’ve seen worse. Lukewarm feelings persist.

So, yes, that is the excitement that was my Tuesday. Gotta go and liberate the washing from the tumble drier now, and then go and hopefully sleep this headache away. The next few days are going to be busy!

(Plus I really need to think about my summer plans [and possibly also blog about them], and possibly also blog about DFDF – its not forgotten, it just got surmounted by the things that happened right after it was over.)

* A day that included the last session [ :-( ] of my “American Short Fiction” class. We disussed John Cheever’s short story “The World of Apples,” which has one of my (many) first sentences: “Asa Bascomb, the old laureate, wandered around his work-house or study — he had never been able to settle on a name for a house where one wrote poetry — swatting hornets with a copy of La Stampa and wondering why he had never been given the Nobel Prize.” How’s that for an intriguing start? Do you have any favourite first sentences? What are they?

Thursday, May 24th, 2012

Of empty halls and walkways

It’s 10:56pm, and I am the workiest at work person. Given that I got here at about 7:45 am, that makes for a bit of a long day (though I did get to leave campus for a 3 hour meeting at one of our local schools in the afternoon). The bell to kick me out will ring in another 40 minutes or so (everyone out by midnight!), but until then I’m going to finish up some things left over that I don’t want to get into again tomorrow … there’s no-one else in the building I think (no lights on anywhere that I can see, and these are the kind of times where you can play music on your work computer while working, and no one will hear or mind. It’s nice to be here so late at night, sometimes, especially in the summer – and it feels like summer right now, what with it still being 15°C or so outside… .

Music of the evening: Thomas Dolby, “To the Lifeboats”

Saturday, May 19th, 2012

Order, order!

This right now is my first weekend after finishing my backload of stuff and getting it all done. (Finally!) I’ve been finishing things on the day of their deadline (or in some cases a bit after the deadline) for what seems like months and months – I let things slide in the last months of finishing the PhD, and then going away on holidays straight after my disputation was, while wonderful, not something that helped me with catching up on the things I hadn’t finished while still doing PhD things, since I got back and went straight into grading, and so didn’t catch up with things, and … . But I finally caught up with everything that was due late on Thursday, did most of next weeks’ class prep on Friday, and thus could take the weekend off from working (aside from some reading that I need to do for work, but that does not count as work, for me).

So what did I do with my free Saturday? Well, I did some of the non-work things that I’ve been neglecting, namely re-ordering and dusting the bookshelves that I’ve only dumped books into willy-nilly for the last months. (I don’t sort books alphabetically or anything like that, but I do try to keep subject areas together and separate from each other. As an example you can see the re-sorted and expanded shelves of my books connected to the Basileia Romaion* above (more commonly known as the Byzantine Empire, these days), which was in a particularly sad state, as (partially due to the PhD) the books had well overflowed their alloted space and where anywhere from bunched into the American Literature shelves to piled up behind the TV. (I also might have re-sorted bits of my sand collection so that sand from beaches that were at some point part of the Empire are placed in front of the books. They all needed dusting anyway, so…).

I also put things on ebay, did a lot of washing, dusting, sorting, discarding, sorting of papers, cleaning of windows … the exciting times dans Casa Sibylle, let me show you them! But it needed doing, and it was just as well done today, when the weather was not really conducive to doing lots of things outside (if today had been sunny, different things would have happened, but at least the temperatures were finally high enough to keep the windows open and to give everything a good airing out). Unless it pours down tomorrow, doing things outside is firmly on the agenda! So that was my Saturday. How was yours?

PS: I did not only take a photo of a country road at night yesterday (while being stopped, folks! Drive savely!), but also spent some time on the way to the birthday party I was invited to driving around northern Germany’s countryside in the evening, so, uh, have a photo of a cow? Moo!

* Yes, if you’re looking closely, some of those books have somewhat sensational titles (while actually being pretty sober content-wise). The Last Pagan was of course (and contrary to what the book’s title suggests), not the last pagan to ever live – merely the last pagan to also be Emperor of the Roman Empire (Emperor Julian). And Justinian’s Flea is not about a strange pet of the Emperor Justinian (alas?). (But since you’ll be able to find my name on a book called In the Ruins of Civilizations, who am I to say?)

Wednesday, May 9th, 2012

Fly by update

This is a fly by update, in the sense that its been a while since I posted anything, but I also really don’t have any actual time to post anything profound, and I am stealing 5 minutes to do this while my late-lunch-early-dinner is cooking, which I shall consume as quickly as possible, and then head out to finish class preparation for tomorrow and go to the public library to speak about the end of the world in fiction and how the end of the world never really is one at that. Busy busy busy.

Headed home because I missed the window during which the university canteen is open and serving lunch, and finding gluten and dairy free food in the cafeteria is impossible … well, there’re apples (which I also ought not eat). Plus I needed to go pick up some things for my lecture anyway, so I just moved the timing around a bit.

On the right there you can see what is currently in my to-read-for-fun pile (different kinds of fun, but still fun), which I will need to pick something from to take on the train with me (I am going home for the weekend). I shall also be taking things to read-for-work and the second draft of an article I need to work on, but it’s going to be a lot of train-ing, and so I might get to read something besides work things, and be finished with the article before the train gets to Mannheim.

But now the rice has finished cooking, and I better go eat, and then it’s back ter work! Later, all y’all!


Thursday, April 26th, 2012

Pattern Recognition

Today the inaugural lecture by one of our new professors, Prof. Dr. Harald Welzer, took place at work, and he spoke well and eloquently about ‘the great transformation,’ about what can be done to transform societies into societies that can survive in the future, and what some of the problems with the whole scenario are (lots). The last time society was profoundly transformed was the first industrial revolution, and we’re arguably still struggling with that, and that was not a transformation that was implemented top-down, but rather that grew haphazardly out of a variety of confluences and circumstances. I’ve read about the dialectic of people being concerned about the environment on the one hand and not implementing any lifestyle changes in their own lives here and there (and everywhere), but a new perspective on it was interesting, especially since he mentioned some books and writers I’ve not yet read (second hand book places, here I come). I’ve also mostly been looking at it from an ecocritical perspective, not a socio-political one, given the nature of the book I recently finished writing. It’s all similar, though, from a variety of angles, and some points of his talk just made me think of Margaret Atwood’s novel Oryx & Crake, where the difficulty of stopping a destructive process once it has reached a certain momentum is also discussed. Everyone’s banging their head against the same wall, trying to stop what might well be inevitable, for reasons manifold and plenty and mostly indeed psychological and socio-political.

“Change can be accommodated by any system depending on its rate,” Crake used to say. “Touch your head to a wall, nothing happens, but if the same head hits the same wall at ninety miles an hour, it’s red paint. We’re in a speed tunnel, Jimmy. When the water’s moving faster than the boat, you can’t control a thing.”

I listened, thought Jimmy, but I didn’t hear.

I, too, think we’re in a speed tunnel, or approaching it fast – even if not the same as the one in Oryx & Crake turns out to be. But we’re listening but not hearing, too. (Have you read Oryx & Crake? Read Oryx & Crake!)

Monday, April 23rd, 2012

Futures & Ruins

So, parts of what my PhD brought along with it was a lot of research into ruins and ruin theory, and especially into the first appearances of what I refer to as ‘anticipated ruins’ – depictions of isochronically whole buildings in a future state of ruin. Hubert Robert is one of the first painters of such anticipated ruins, although not the earliest (known) painter of them (that distinction goes to Victor Louis, and his 1759 painting of The Church of Sant’Andrea de Vignola, transformed into a Roman ruin). However, Robert’s Vue imaginaire de la Grande Galerie du Louvre en ruines (1796) is really the most well-known early example.

So, when I found out that there’s a book about Hubert Robert’s works of anticipated ruination out there now, I could not resist investigating it, even though it was published too late to be integrated into my work. I ordered it on long-distance inter-library loan and what with one thing and another it arrived the day before I went adventuring, and had to be returned the day after I got back – so all I got to do was glance into it and see if it sounded interesting, or if the title had given me false hopes … and since it turned out looking like something I might enjoy reading at my leisure at some point in time I made a note of the title and publication details … and just now I gave in and ordered a copy for myself (rather than re-loaning it, which I have also pondered doing).

It took me a while to get around to ordering it, though – might this mean that my complete apathy towards academic writing connected to my PhD in particular and outside of essential to teaching-and-uni-work things in general is wearing off again? That’d be nice. Batteries, recharge! Still, six weeks of post-PhD-kind-of-apathy-towards-academia-pursued-only-for-myself … fair enough, huh. That was a bit of a mountain to scale after all, I guess, and as long as all it gave me was temporary exhaustion instead of permanent altitude sickness … I ain’t complaining.

I’ll post about what the book is like, once it gets here & I have time to read it. For now I gotta get back to finishing my musings about tomorrow’s classes (my class load has doubled this term, so it’s all kind of … intense right now) … we’ll be reading and discussing Edgar Allan Poe as well as founding our own fictive companies, it’s gonna be fun (one hopes) (Not in the same class, though)!

Sunday, April 15th, 2012


Photowise these are going to be some boring weeks for us all, folks, as I am busy with other things, have posted a variety of holiday photos into the albums already, and don’t want to repeat too many things. Eeek! I shall mostly be really busy with work things – now that my PhD is done-but-for-the-publication my class load has doubled for this term, and that, along with some other classes and projects I am committed to is keeping me busy-busy … and then there’s the interdisciplinary lecture series I’m co-hosting and also giving a talk at, and there’s an article I need to finish and another one I ought to start writing … yep, busy-busy. It’s good I don’t have much of a regular weekend social life in early spring, otherwise I would really rue handing yet another weekend over to work. :-) As it is, it’s still annyoing, but less than actually having to cancel something for it. The plan is to have the article I ought to finish ready to send off for a grammar/flow beta (it’s been a long time since I did any academic writing in German, and das/dass slips by me far too often anyway) before the first meeting starts tomorrow. Write write write! Polish polish polish!

Then it’s going to be one of the fullest weeks of term, appointments-wise, what with commissions of all sorts meeting, new potential colleagues being interviewed and all … and then it’ll be time to ponder what I’m going to say at the lecture in ten days’ time – that’s on my schedule for next weekend, though, and I’m not really thinking that far ahead yet. Linear thinking is the mode for today. One thing after the other.

In non-work things I can report that I watched the ZDF “Super-Champion” quiz show last night (while doing some low-brain computer cleaning etc, and in lieu of a choice between all the Titanic movies in the history of, possibly, the last 100 years). It did not impress me much – the questions were good, some of the experts too, but the moderation was off and some of the contestants too clichéed for me. And what did most stick with me was how their giant arrow (of which one can find no pictures online, tricksy, ZDF, tricksy!) looked rather unfortunately like a giant (there’s no getting around it) penis. It totally did. Phallic objects of non-subtlety were not subtle. And since the contestants had to ‘screw’ the experts, it was even – albeit I fear completely unintentionally – kinda funny. So yeah. That was yesterday. Back to my word document now! How was your weekend?

Thursday, April 12th, 2012

Here, have a rant!

About smoothies, at that. So, as some of you know and a lot of you don’t really need to, I cannot eat everything I might want to, for I get sick when I do. Allergies and intolerances, they are in the house body. Well, one deals and is happy that none of them can kill one. (I know people where that is not so, and trust me, I’m glad to not have to deal with that.) Anyway, this post is not to be a ‘oh no, poor woobie’ kind of thing – hey, we all carry some stuff or other around with us etc pp bla bla. Rather, it’s a post of supreme annoyance about the secretive changing of ingredients in products one buys, and in a strange way about vindication for a paranoia I did not really want vindicated and/or was actually getting better about.

You see, I have this thing about reading ingredients lists. For the same product, even if its something I’ve bought for years – before I open it, I read the list of ingredients and double-check there’s nothing I’m not supposed to have in there. Things I’ve never bought I of course check in the store, but even mainstay staple products get checked before I open them. Which, yes, is a bit silly and possibly a bit paranoid, and sometimes awkward when I’m staying with people that bought these things for me and where I know, I know that they understand about the things I’m not supposed to eat and that they have never bought something that it turned out I could not eat and and why don’t I trust them? And its not them I don’t trust, or at least not any less or more than myself –> see double-checking things I myself bought. This double-checking is just something I trained myself to do when all of this was new and bewildering, and its worked and better safe twice than … . But still, yep, totally a bit paranoid.

 And then there are days like today, where all that paranoia suddenly becomes vindicated, and if I hadn’t checked, what do you know, I’d not be posting this here right now.

Enter ALDI NORD Fruit Smoothies, stage left. The “cherry-banana” version, to be precise. Which, for the months that I’ve been bying them, contained banana, cheery, grape and blackcurrant, and which I’ve been bying so regularly that I’ve stopped checking the ingredients in the shop, and only check before opening and consuming the thing. And, what do you know, phew, thank you, slight paranoia – nice safe!

For, without any fanfare, fuss, sign, announcement of a changed recipe or even the slightest redesign of the packaging, what product features apple as a main igredient now? I’ll give you three guesses, and the first two don’t count. Yep, the “CHERRY – BANANA” snoothie. Nice job, ALDI NORD. NOT. And since I did not check the ingredients in the store, guess who now has a fridge full of the things that I cannot drink? Yep, that’d also be me (the cherry-banana ones always go really quickly, so stocking up when there were some available was always thing to do). I”ll try taking them back tomorrow, but I don’t have much hope. And I’m really more annoyed about the principle and underhanded secretiveness of the thing than anything else. Happy to not have ingested it, of course, but also really annoyed – not so much about the recipe change, but at the sneakiness of it all.


Tuesday, April 10th, 2012

Happy Birthday, G&G!

So, Gethe-and-Goth turns 1 year old today, and if that does not call for a little omphaloskepsis, I don’t know what does. (And it is, possibly, maybe, an excuse to take a break from this paper I am trying to finish writing, which is being unwieldy right now and will profit from some time spent away from it. Shh! It will!)

The advertent reader will of course notice that there are postings on here dated days, months, and indeed, years before April 10th, 2011, but all of them are backdated imports I made a year ago, so that this blog here would not start out completely empty. So they existed elsewhere on the net, but not on here – and not for public consumption, but rather logged for a specific circle of people only, all of whom had to be allowed to see them, and pretty much all of whom I knew/know ‘in real life’ (how is this here not real life? It’s real life, too!) as well. Indeed, for everyones’ convenience, this blog still cross-posts there (to LJ), and LJ is indeed where most of the commenting activity happens, as most people simly know and read me on there, and its easier to keep track of a great many people all in one place on there.

If you look at the mission statement on the right here, you can see that I thought I’d do different things with this blog than I actually ended up doing – post more about academia and academic articles I came across, and possibly not so much about everyday life. Indeed, photos (which turned out to be a major pillar of my updates) are hardly mentioned at all. (Time to revise that mission statement, maybe…after y’all have had a chance to read it the way it is right now, if you want to).

It’s been a really good experience, though – sometimes a bit boggling when looking at the search terms people find this page with (the top 4 for April so far are “underwater statue in key west florida” – “sibylle machat” – “red sand” and “horses ears”. I have nothing on underwater statues in key west (though I read there are some in the waters off of Key Largo, which I had no time to go and snorkle), but the rest actually make sense for once, even though they might not yield what people are seeking).

But I know I had some discussions (with some of you!) last year about the pros and cons of public content on the internet vs. the profession one is in and general privacy etc, and for me, so far, it’s working out – it’s like everything else, practice advertency and ponder what you want to share and what not, and then only put on here the things you would not mind everyone seeing. And it’s been fun to get comments from people I only know via this website, or to keep in touch with people one has met but once or twice. I also still really like that its hosted on my ‘own’ server/webspace, and not elsewhere on the net.

The name … I still love the name, but I admit that yes it does indeed make people think I’m a Goth, which I am really not. :-) So maybe I ought to do more with the multiperspectivity/ineluctable modality of the visible and everything else that the name really stems from. Or possibly write some stuff about Goethe after all, because that’s the other thing people ask me about, and I mostly say “yeah, read his travel writings from Italy. He writes some lovely things about ruins!” (Yep, my PhD blinders, let me show you them!) Or, hmm, ask me what a ‘Gethe’ is. So, the most easily deductive name, it is not. Oops.

Also: 23’077 people in 366 days. Eek. That’s more than 60 per day – not taking into account people reading on RSS feeds or on LJ. Thank you all for visiting, and I hope you find what you seek and have a good time looking around! (The pageviews are even more mindboggling – on April 4th alone this blog had 1’372, not counting spiders.)

I’d say “let’s do another challenge for the anniversary!” but seeing as I’ve not complete the 5-month-thing yet … I’ll just say: if you want to add a photo challenge to that one, go for it! I’ll get around to them all again one day soon-ish, I hope. (Once this paper is finished. And that one. And possibly that other one. And … ;-) ).

Also: if there’s anything you want to see me blog about (more), speak up!

Thursday, April 5th, 2012

Photography – dans l’eau!

My suitcase arrived yesterday and just I found some time earlier today to scan in some of my better underwater/in the water photographs, one of which you can see up there right now. And, hmm, I might have bought a ‘proper’ underwater camera yesterday, since it was a special offer at ALDI, and I want to do more underwater photography (it’s still a pretty basic camera, but I figure if I really take to it and level up my skill set some I can also level up my camera eventually … we’ll see). So now I need to, you know, find underwater things to photograph!

For now, I’ve made an ‘underwater’ album and added it to the other photo albums that are already online – and I need to spend the next four days finishing my Martin Luther King article. Eep. So that’s my plan for Easter. What is yours?

Friday, March 2nd, 2012

How it went down

I don’t like to brag, but since I posted a moany “let time pass” post yesterday and I know a lot of you were crossing your fingers for me and/or sent me good wishes yesterday or in the days before, it’s only fair to tell you how it all ended up turning out.

Everything’s graded now and done with (except for publication) and I am chuffed (chuffed! Ha! An understatement!) that you can now call me Ms Summa-cum-Laude. :-)

(Or alternatively, totally still Sib or Sibylle or whatever else it is we usually call each other, but yes, it’s all done, and today went well, and I had fun and could have kept fielding questions for a while, I felt. If all is well that ends well, then all is well indeed, today.)

So, things are good – now to do some hovering and cleaning up, and then we’re going out for dinner! (Untidy flats, they wait for no woman… . They shall, however, be cleaned up with extra jazz hands &c today).  *\o/*

Thursday, March 1st, 2012

 sign of disputationTomorrow

If time is relative, then can it be 10 am tomorrow right now? I want the waiting over with.

Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day

Though I hope I’ll manage more than a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, tomorrow … or at least the right and convincing amount of sound and fury. Whether or not things signify anything we can argue about … .

(And I don’t even have any olives.)




* Tomorrow and …? what?
(Yes, that is a rap version of MacBeth. Shh…)

Monday, February 27th, 2012


some painted easter eggs, fancy

I am in Mannheim right now for an upcoming birthday celebration in the family and spending a lot of my time working on my disputation presentation for next Friday (almost finished, I think) and generally looking up bits and bobs that I ran out of time with my dissertation on, but in between all that academicificationeering (at some point I’ll come here when I am not busy with work!) I went along to an outing to a local Easter Egg market today. It was … eggful. Full of eggs. Eggy. Not all of them were in one basket. And no-one got egg on their face. It was not a place conducive to photography, but I managed some, and here’s one, of … eggs. (Also, decorated eggs can be super expensive. And I personally wouldn’t spend € 150 on something that fragile. Too much clumsiness all around, for sure! Some of them were really pretty, though. Still, you know … eggs. It was kind of like an egg-themed christmas market, but without the Glühwein and sausages [they did have waffles {not, hmm, that Christmas Markets traditionally do…}]).

Wednesday, February 15th, 2012


to mur·ger,  v.
1.  to destroy a rival company via hostile takeover.
(A portemanteau word of murder and merger, usage as a noun also possible: “a murger”.)

Blinkydonk & Wholph ~ed its American rival Snickypop this morning. Tec stock up two percent on the trading floor.


[These are the things my colleague G. and I come up with in senate meeting breaks, somewhat by accident.]