Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Heppy Birsday (*)

One year ago I started my Murmeltierjahre adventure. After 65 posts, I must say that blogging has changed my life. Maybe not in a profound, crucial way, but still, very often I discover myself thinking "public", thinking about an audience, thinking how could I explain this or that, what picture shall transmit best my feelings or my points.

Blogging in English has always been a real challenge to my skills. As I already told, I did not want to lose my English skills, and having so few chance to practise, Die Murmeltierjahre has been a really cool way to think in English. I always try to write English first and then translate (or rewrite) in Spanish.

I would like to thank you, yes, you that are reading these words, because without you blogging would make no sense and would be no fun. Thanks for being there and welcome to this second Murmeltierjahre season, now with a more personal layout, which I hope you'll like!


(*) German speakers use to have a lot of trouble with this TH sound (as in birTHday). It's funny to hear them sing "heppy birSday to you, heppy birSday to you, ..." ;)

Monday, 19 May 2008

Summer is coming...


... I can feel it on the trees!

Sunday, 18 May 2008


Sometimes our feelings follow paths that we don't understand. Sometimes our perception happens at levels that we are not able to trace.

Why are there cities that appear cold? What is that small bit of something that, in spite of all the good, doesn't let you feel quite like home?


Why are there other cities that seem to embrace you with its charme? What is that other something that gives you the feeling you could easily make of that city your home?


I don't know. Maybe it's just the colour of its rooftops...

Thursday, 15 May 2008

Mediterranean Breeze


Monday, 12 May 2008

Follow your nose

One of the consequences of the enormous evolutive success of the human species has been the loss of contact with Nature. We live in stone boxes, some meters above the ground, days and days can go on without ever touching any soil with our hands, we drink bottled water and almost everything we eat comes on white trays in plastic wrap.

Some of our forefathers' abilities disappeared (as most surely our toes will do). Others are still there, but I do not believe they would be of any use now, had we have to survive and succeed in the hostile environment the first great apes lived in.

Yesterday I was thinking about that as I discovered, on a bicycle tour along the Danube river banks, some cereal ears. I'm pretty sure they are the same ears with which I played as a kid in school. We ripped them off with our pointing finger and thumb (I still can clearly remind the noise they made) to throw them to the other kids, because they would stick to the clothes, especially to wool pullovers. (*)

I was very aware of how the memory was built in my mind, first seeing the ears at the path sides, then picturing myself ripping them off, then touching them, then remembering the noise, and then the warmth of the memory...


On the other hand, when it is a smell that reminds me of something, it comes to me almost immediately, as if the nose had direct line with the memory. Although they seem to be lost memories, they just need the right smell to be made appear sharply, with every little detail, as if I was living that again.

I always thought I have a good sense of smell. I suppose it is to made up for my short-sightedness and a certain increasingly hearing loss. I think smell is one of the most directly connected senses to our brain. Not to the most "conscious" part of it, but to that almost "reptilian" brain that controls our instincts. Because smell was already there before consciousness appeared, and memory was probably there, too.

I like bicycling to the office because, on this time of year, I am able to smell wild garlic even not being able to see it (did I mention my short-sightedness?). I like the different smells that fill up Salzburg's passages depending on the day of the week, depending on the time, depending on the passage. The passage going from Mozart's birthplace and Universitätsplatz smells of coal and sausages every Saturday noon. Close to Konditorei Schatz it always smells of cakes. Balkan Grill's passage always salutes our noses with the smell of a misterious spice blend and Nagano Restaurant's passage smells of soya sauce and seaweed.

I like the sense of smell, because it is proof of our past in the wilderness, as being able to distinguish a threatening smell from the smell of food could mean survival or death. Because it reminds us that we are nothing but little animals, somehow evolved, but still animals. I like it because my heart misses a beat when I smell the loved one behind me. I like it even though sometimes, when people use too much perfume, I almost can't breathe in the lift. I like the sense of smell because, sometimes, it brings about memories of my childhood, as we threw those cereal ears to each other, as we had not started chasing girls yet...


(*) Mar says they called them the boyfriend plants, because the number of ears sticking to you was the number of boyfriends you had...

Thursday, 1 May 2008

The street polymath

Years and years ago, as mankind still had acne and science had just started to babble the ideas that would torture students for generations to come, it was possible for a single person to know everything (I mean, really EVERYTHING) that was to be known about in the world. Pythagoras, Muhammad ibn Mūsā al-Khwārizmī or Leonardo da Vinci bear the qualifier "polymath".

It is said that the last one of such breed was René Descartes, who received an integral education at La Flèche college. From then on, science was too large, too difficult, for a single person to be versed on the whole of it. There seem to be no more polymaths...


But I recently learned that's not true. A different kind of polymath is alive and well. A kind of polymath that never attended college, but can beat any engineer when it comes to designing a hanged support for a projector. A kind of polymath that can produce a reasoned and sound opinion on almost every imaginable topic. A kind of polymath whose greatest treasure lies on his huge experience. He already did everything you could imagine, and he knows all those little tricks that make the difference between failure and success...

His name is Hannes, but everyone calls him by his surname, K. To him goes my profound admiration and this song.

(*) Just in case someone wondered why the photo: Carl Jacobi was a renowned Prussian mathematician who, among other contributions, gave its name to the Jacobian matrix, which I'm sure will relive sweet memories to all of you who had to learn differential equations sometime... It was fun to discover in this old sign that another Carl Jacobi was successful in the soap business :)