Lunch at Altausseer See in Altaussee near Bad Aussee near Grundlsee

Today, or yesterday (I am vacationing so my grip on time is more tenuous than usual) I was served a memory from a year ago, a picture of me with a butterfly tickling my nostril at the fish restaurant at Toplitzsee, where we go every year, or have gone each of the past five years, as we have fallen in love with the lake one lake over, Grundlsee, and the surrounding mountains, and other features of the landscape etc in the vicinity; however when we hiked to Toplitzsee for more fish this year the restaurant was closed since we made the mistake of going on a Tuesday and it’s closed Tuesdays, and the second time we went it was open and the fish was good but no butterflies, only mosquitos; likewise when we (in this case my daughter Beta and myself, my wife Alpha having returned home on Thursday to take care of the cats while Beta returned here (she had gone to our house a few days prior to replace her sister Gamma as catsitter because Gamma – who had been with me at Grundlsee at the beginning – was going to Innsbruck to give a presentation at a conference, and to climb in the climbing gym there, which is said to be the best in the world) went to Altausseer See in Altaussee, near Bad Aussee, which is one town over from Grundlsee, for a hike and lunch. While walking around the lake, which is pretty and amidst pretty landscapey views, we were a bit worried whether we would get a table at the place, a rustic restaurant on the bank of the lake, it being tourist season and Friday and noon, but we needn’t have worried because the place was about a third full, if that, when we arrived and we took an empty table and that is when the fun started (the hike had been fun too, except for one stretch with a lot of biting flies) because it seemed to be… New Waitstaff Day? or something? Like first I ordered a “Loser Bier” which is a brand of beer named after a nearby mountain, it comes in a bottle which is good for taking “funny” selfies, which I have been known to do; however, and maybe fortunately, the waitress (a different one from the one who had taken my order) brought a large glass of beer (ein gro├čes Bier) and I was like, internally, all Who is hard of hearing here, you or me? but said nothing because I figured, more beer for the same price and probably the Loser beer selfies are getting old. Then, having studied the menu I asked her what a particular burger, named after the restaurant, was, i.e. was it just a regular burger or what? and she said Yes it was a regular burger. But when my food came it was a fish burger, which I discovered later, after she had gone yet I did not mention it to anyone because 1. fish burger was tasty 2. i figured maybe the burger I ordered, named after the restaurant, was indeed a fish burger not a regular burger and the new waitress who had gotten my beer order wrong had simply not known better. Later, after Gamma and I had eaten a waiter arrived with a regular burger and said, you were served a fish burger right? And I said Right and he said, But you didn’t say anything when it was served? And I said, no problem, just give me the regular burger too and he did and I didn’t know what the fuck was going on but it turned out I had to pay for both burgers apparently because I had failed to point out their incompetence to them immediately, which had not been possible for me because as I mentioned I had not been sure the fish burger was a mistake but I didn’t want to argue and paid; if I had started complaining to the guy I would still be there complaining, wrong beer, wrong burger, right burger not very good (too much filler in the patty), unfriendly blame-shifting waiter. So we paid and left. The waitress who took my money (the 4th waitstaff member to grace our table) had not been involved in any of the mistakes so I still tipped her, a decent tip by Austrian standards but a little paltry by American standards, sort of hit the sweet spot with the percentage, small enough so that it seemed on my end that I was penalizing them for their misdeeds, while large enough that they would not notice anything. Then we walked to our car and got there just as the first raindrops fell and by the time we got home thunder and lightning and lots of rain, it was great.

When are you going to do these?

When are you going to do these?
My wife brandishes a sack of purple iris things and some other bulbs that she bought recently that i thanked her for buying.
On the weekend, I say, this not being the weekend, but Thursday, although I am home, having skipped work / opted to work from home due to the plausibility of a reaction from my 5th covid shot as an excuse.
It’s always the weekend, she says.
Which is true, I married a philosopher and she is retired now.
However I am drunk (and drunk gardening = risky), because we went to the bank today to negotiate a higher interest rate on my savings account after which we went for a walk along the Danube that ended abruptly at the Alpenverein with wine.
Abrupt and unexpected, but not unwelcome.
You only live once, so.
The problem is, i dunno.
Kid in a candy store problem, I guess.
In this abundant, beautiful world.
When there is so much to love.
Despite everything.

On tardigrades

Upon waking this morning, I noticed that my mind was already working full bore, considering tardigrades. Specifically, wondering whether, if they are so good at surviving inhospitable environments, they survive the human digestive tract when accidentally (or, I suppose, purposely) eaten and if this is so, whether their number is growing to the extent that the proportion of tardigrades in our food is increasing such that, some day in the future, all of our food (and all of our poo) will be pure tardigrade. Or, I also wondered, would tardigrades elect to remain inside us, and if so, will they find a way to control our thoughts and actions? It is not an unrealistic outcome, considering how tardigrades, besides being extremely attractive and hardy, are also intelligent and wise beyond the limited ability of humans to comprehend and suitable leaders for this planet and all planets, without exceptionnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn

Never leave without treats

The ceiling fan turned slowly, as if a small, discouraged helicopter had turned upside-down and began to poke through from the apartment upstairs, but then accepted its fate and given up. The private detective’s office smelled like cheap tobacco, medium-priced whisky and expensive divorces and the afternoon light slicing through the dusty, half-open Venetian blinds gave everything a slicy, dusty look.
“So how’d you describe dem?” said the PI.
I glanced up from my phone, which I had briefly switched on to see if its recent vibration had been from an important notification or something ignorable like “you have achieved your stair-climbing goal” (I had exceeded it) but then fallen down a rabbit hole of short videos of animals that were normally sworn enemies interacting cutely, like a puppy riding around on a goose or a cat with a mouse on its head.
“He was covered with iridescent black feathers and had a slender head,” I said. “So I’m not sure if it was a he or a she or a young he or what.”
“Iridescent.”
“Yeah! It turns out the iridescence might be a way they tell each other apart, like an additional feature they notice. Which makes me wonder if we have an invisible iridescence, invisible to us, but that they can notice, because how do they recognize me otherwise, no matter what I’m wearing, even a hat or sunglasses, or a raincoat or carrying an umbrella? Once I was standing in the middle of about 25 of them and pulled a feather out of my inside suit pocket and showed it to them. No idea what I had expected, but not what I got. They all, like, startled, and took a couple steps back, and a few left altogether. Despite the treats I was giving them.”
“Treats? You sure they like them?”
“Well another one today came over with 2 peanuts in its beak and when it saw the treats it discarded the peanuts and took the treats.”
“This the first time you got mugged?”
“I’m not sure that’s what it was. I mean, ok. It felt… as if someone had hit me in the back of the head with a medium bird. Feathery, initially, but an instant later quite substantial, and moving at a good clip. Not just a flyby and whack you in the head with a wingtip thing.”
“Not.”
“No. Cause that happened too, months ago. Same street corner, in fact. Same perp too, most likely. At the time it felt like a ‘hello!’ or something, to get my attention, but now I’m not so sure.”
“Slender, iridescent etc etc,” said the PI.
“Yeah. I mean, he might’ve figured I was affiliated with the others invading his territory.”
“Mob thing?”
“For all I know I *was* affiliated with them. They did follow me around. Into his territory. I have no knowledge of corvid real estate law.”
“Yeah, makes sense, I see what you mean,” said the PI, and leaned back and put his feet on his desk. He put his hands, which I noticed were oddly-shaped, behind his head.
The back of my neck crawled. I felt a hunch coming on. Then a shoe fell off and a bird head stuck out of his pant leg and I was sure.
This was no human private eye, it was a bunch of crows in a “sexy private eye” costume you can order on the Internet.
My eyes scanned the room for a route of escape. I couldn’t egress via the fire escape, there would just be more out there.
I had to leave the way I had come, through the front door.
“So these treats,” the PI said.
I reached into the pocket of my overcoat and removed a handful. “These here,” I said.
The PI’s countenance took on a greedy aspect. I threw the treats to the floor and they rolled into a far corner of the room. Everything that happened after that is blurred in my memory. I lurched for the door while the detective dissolved into a swarming mass of iridescent black-feathered birds and attacked the still-rolling treats in a cacophony of caws and flapping wings.
To my shock and horror the door was locked. But luckily the key was in the keyhole and by turning it I was able to unlock the door and make my escape after all.
I slipped a few more treats through the mail slot in the door just to be nice before leaving.
“Never leave without treats,” I thought, “no matter where you are.”

The haunted doorbell

this is the terrifying story
of the haunted doorbell
the weather here has been
real hot and dry
but lately it has been cooler and
wetter and today the
constant rain started
when the constant rain starts
i think of ray bradbury’s story
about astronauts on venus
in constant rain
the second thing that happens when
the constant rain starts
is our haunted doorbell starts
ringing
its creepy half-ring
my wife just called me at work
and said, it’s ringing again,
and she said, what should i do?
i said she should, first of all
put on rubber gloves.
i didn’t say, wait until i get home,
i said, put on rubber gloves, first of all.
then pry off the cover
there are no screws, it just pops off
but careful not to break it
then you want to unhook the two wires
there are two screws
loosen the screws but
don’t touch them
even with rubber gloves
nothing would happen, you would
just get a little shock
(a medium shock, in fact)
then when the screws are loose
pull out the wires
easy as that
she said she would wait until i came home
isn’t it too creepy, that
creepy haunted doorbell
half ringing all day?
i told her to call the guy
to look at the heating and he could
do the doorbell while he was there
she said, he’s a plumber not an electrician
but he could do two screws, i said
you can do it when you get home
she said

PV Technology

So, after hating on technology for a good part of my life, we got photovoltaic panels on the roof and I really like everything about them so far. Even though it is winter they still generate a little power, even on a foggy day. Not much power (on a foggy winter day) but you could power a few lightbulbs or something like that. The system comes with an app, you log in to the website and apparently the system is telling the website how much power it is making etc because there is a neat little graphic that tells you how much you are producing, using, how much is going into the battery (and its level of charge) and how much is going into or coming out of the power grid. It’s very calming to watch.
The battery is nice because, if there is ever a black out we’ll have power for a few hours while society collapses around us.
Another impressive thing about the panels are roof avalanches (Dachlawinen in German). When it snows, like yesterday (doesn’t produce much power when covered in snow) the snow just sits there (if it’s wet snow, like yesterday) until the weather warms up to a little over freezing and then whammo it all slides off onto the sidewalk all at once.
We never had roof avalanches before today, because we have a tile roof that has a rough texture and that holds the snow more, that higher coefficient of friction. Wet glass, on the other hand… I went outside and saw the pile of snow on our sidewalk and was very relieved not to see little kid or old lady feet sticking out of it. We put up warning signs, and took them back down after all the snow had slid off the roof or melted.
Winter is going to be a bigger problem with our PV system than we thought.
(But it’s really cool.)

Big Time

Ever since my COVID-19 booster shot I have been getting these epiphanies when I go near a transformer or an electric car drives past.
Like, listen, just now, recently, we woke up at, say, for example, eight but according to our phones it was only seven.
Our phones determine what time it is.
And our computers. And anything else, any other timepiece, that resets itself automatically. Or, more accurately, is controlled by someone else.
Time used to be a natural thing, man.
Then clock time was introduced, and natural time faded into obscurity except when various scientists would lock themselves into a dark cave and do whatever.
With clock time, clock time was a social construct, but it was something everyone had to agree upon and gave clockmakers a lot of power.
Now clocks, especially in cars and ovens, are at most butts of jokes. They’re always wrong, or they’re wrong half the time and then self-correct six months later.
Nobody cares about clockmakers. And I suppose remote-control clocks are a thing now, right? Never wrong.
All these remote control clocks – time is no longer a social construct, it is in the hands of Big Time. Big Time I will define here as “whoever resets the clocks”-
Daylight Savings, or this regular switching between winter and summer time, is absolutely pointless. When something looks pointless, ask yourself who benefits from it?
Big Time.
Daylight Savings exists to acclimate us to the idea that time is malleable, and not to freak out when it suddenly makes no sense. Indeed, to pay less attention to rubberized time and just… live with it.
Every six months, a big deal is made of this quality of time.
Time is precise, yet random.
You have to be at work by 8 o’clock sharp, and yet sometimes the day goes fast, sometimes it drags on and on and you are exhausted and feel like you have been at your desk or terminal or table or conveyor belt or whatever forever, for ten hours or 12 hours or whatever but you look at your watch and still have hours to go how can that be?
Well this is how it can be: Big Time is messing with your time to make you work longer without collecting overtime.
Eight hour day? Sure you can have an eight hour day. But we define what an hour is, and what eight means.
We used to have internal clocks.
Used to be, if I set an alarm clock I woke up a minute before it went off. That is a precise internal clock. (Maybe my alarm clock made a faint click a minute before it went off, and it was the click that was waking me, I never tested that… but for the sake of argument…)
Same thing – pets. Cats, and perhaps dogs and other species, some days they wake you up an hour, hours early, starvin'; other days you feed them at the agreed-upon time and they just look at it as if they were still full and ignore it until hours later and then refuse it because it isn’t fresh anymore.
At least cats.
Right?
This is because their internal clock is still accurate, and they are still in touch with it, and Big Time hasn’t gotten to them yet the way it has gotten to us.
There is only one way to deal with this and that is to take time back from Big Time. Take time back into our own hands. How do we do that?
You can’t trust anyone. Any central source of time – TV time, Internet – is under control of Big Time, you can assume. Even the dates printed on newspapers and magazines. All the same thing. You have to literally take time back into your own hands.
Physically. Democratic time is only possible when everyone makes their own clocks. This means, immediately, sun dials. Big Time does not control the sun. Astronomy and observing the migration of birds work for seasonal events, but nothing beats a sun dial for telling time. Except a clock you have made yourself. That is the ultimate goal – everyone learns to make their own clocks.
Before the advent of Big Time, one could argue for simply using analogue clocks, but with its tentacles in every pie, you can’t trust any source of time anymore – Big Time has certainly got to clockmakers now.
The only way around that is to make your own clocks. Go to Switzerland, hire on as an apprentice, how hard can it be? And until then, make a sun dial. It is relatively simple. Stick a stick into something, write numbers around it that the shadow of the stick hits, and depending on what number the shadow falls on, that’s what time it is – time is now back in your own hands. Easy peasy. Big Time is defeated, right when they thought they had us.