Quarter Life Crisis

The world according to Sven-S. Porst

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100 Things

2403 words

Arriving just a few years after the corresponding ‘meme’ made its rounds, my ‘100 things’. Easily the post around here with the longest time of sitting on my desktop as an unfinished file. Mainly because hundred is a really large number and it’s hard to fill in all those items in one go. But… here it is:

  1. I was born on a Wednesday.
  2. I am 1,80m tall, according to my ID card. Actually it may only be 1,79m.
  3. My BMI is around 22 and 23.
  4. No, I’m not into dieting, but you learn these kinds of things when sharing your flat with girls for years. Which I currently don’t do – so I may be out of the loop.
  5. I hate everything. Only Paul hates more things than I do.
  6. Things I’m snobbish about: tea, food, typography, computers, user interfaces (real and virtual), music.
  7. I am working to include wine in that list, but that’ll take some more time.
  8. I’m the member of more clubs than I ever considered possible or advisable: DANTE, WGA and DMV.
  9. Actually I am also a member of the mysterious ‘Club der Teekenner’, the tea appreciation club my neighbour Martin and me founded when we were young. But while we keep drinking loads of tea, it’s been quiet around that ‘club’ for the last decade.
  10. I’ve been atheist ever since I figured that being agnostic is only for people who can’t make up their mind.
  11. Preferred waking hours: 10-3.
  12. I love reading.
  13. I don’t read as much as I’d like to.
  14. My favourite books range from Paddington Bear, to most of Kafka’s works, to Musil, to Frisch to more modern stuff.
  15. One of my favourites in the current authors is Dave Eggers.
  16. I like letters. Much more exciting than e-mail. You aren’t rushed as much to reply and you can even send pretty postcards.
  17. Not being able to quote what somebody wrote can be a bit inconvenient, though.
  18. I also like letters in the other sense of the word. I’ll take any excuse to use exciting and pretty ones exceeding my everyday alphabet.
  19. I’m quite keen on Japanese characters. In Japanese, Sven is スベン or スウェン. I prefer the former.
  20. Other ways to write my name are ஸ்வென் in Tamil, свен in the Cyrillic alphabet and probably ספן in Hebrew (I worked that one out myself at the Jewish Museum so it might be wrong). Feel free to offer additions or corrections to that list.
  21. Arabic is very pretty as well. Particularly when hand-written. I don’t have a clue about it, though.
  22. I’m amazed by cultures that take their writing and calligraphy seriously. Sadly, in most ‘western’ countries we don’t.
  23. Watching films is great, too.
  24. Of course cinema is best for that. But with the limited choice they offer in big cinemas, the difficult schedules and uncomfortable seats of the arts cinemas, watching stuff at home often is the most feasible way to do things.
  25. Long-standing favourites of mine have been the Wild Palms mini series, the outstanding Requiem for a Dream and the rather unlikely Rosalie goes shopping.
  26. Other favourites are films by Stanley Kubrick, Lars von Trier, Quentin Tarantino, Pedro Almodóvar and, as of recently, Wong Kar Wai and Fatih Akin. Not many surprises there.
  27. Other favourites of mine are 23, Almost Famous, Elephant, The Pillow Book or π.
  28. If you’re in for a laugh you should really see I Kina spiser de hunde and the classic What’s up, Doc?.
  29. I guess I could go on listing films for a while, so let me just mention that from the late 1990s on there started being quite good German films again and that I’ve started to develop a taste for Asian films.
  30. I also love doing graphical things.
  31. Unfortunately I’m not particularly skilled at drawing and as went to do maths at uni that never changed.
  32. So my graphical expression is limited to having great ideas inside my head and turning them into crappy drawings by hand or doing some overly technical stuff using computers.
  33. Or taking and playing with photos.
  34. I’ve taken photos since I was seven or so with a range of cameras. And some of them (the photos) actually turned out to be nice looking ones.
  35. Only last year I learned how to use a darkroom. While it turned out to be a rather tedious thing to do, it’s also fun and gives cool results. And the very fact that every single image requires a lot of effort means you’ll actually think before making a print. Which won’t hurt.
  36. The album that got me hooked for rock music: Led Zeppelin III played to me by my neighbour Martin. Also: The Janis Joplin CD I found in (and nicked and kept to this day from) my dad’s CDs.
  37. Best album cover is Tocotronic’s Es ist egal, aber.
  38. Favourite instrument: piano.
  39. I learned to play it, but I’m not very good. Haven’t really played since I moved out of my parents’ house.
  40. Other favourite instrument: electric bass, or the low strings of electric guitars, Drums even, possibly Cello.
  41. Can’t really decide on a favourite band. Watch the music section for that.
  42. Most favourites do have guitars in them though and I’ve been told that it’s no wonder you like The Strokes – they sound as if they’re from the 70s.
  43. I also like piano music – particularly solo instruments, even more particularly Glenn Gould playing the piano –, can occasionally indulge in noisy music and may be developing a faint taste for electronic stuff.
  44. Despite what the previous point sounds like, I am still picky and generally known to dislike most things.
  45. In classical concerts I need to sit at the front. At the back, I keep having the impression that I can hear more of the music when listening to a CD at home. And that would be missing the point.
  46. Unfortunately sitting at the front costs a fortune. Unless you happen to be around in London while the Proms are on.
  47. I don’t like opera. I’ve seen a few from the old-fashioned Aeneas and Dido by Purcell to the modern Moses und Aaron by Schoenberg. Even when they were well performed, I still disliked that whole singing and acting together business.
  48. The only musical I ever saw was Sarafina when it was played in the Market theatre in Johannesburg in the 1980s.
  49. These days you’re discouraged from walking in Johannesburg. Particularly at night – which we needed to do when seeing Sarafina back then.
  50. In Sarafina, seeing Nelson Mandela free was still a an unrealistic hope. One song is called Freedom Is Coming Tomorrow.
  51. Another song was Nkosi sikeleli Afrika, the current national anthem of South Africa.
  52. I lived with people from Germany, England, France, Wales, Japan, Thailand, Mexico, Hong Kong, Kenya, Namibia, Jamaica and the U.S.A.
  53. I had nine different addresses in four cities and three countries.
  54. Capitals I have been to: Bonn (former capital of West Germany), Berlin (capital of former East Germany and current capital of Germany), Prague, Bratislava (before it was capital of Slovakia, though), Vienna, Paris, Andorra (doesn’t really count, does it?), Lissabon, Brussels (airport only), Amsterdam, London, Dublin, Copenhagen, Oslo, Pretoria, Windhoek, Maseru, Mbabane, Kinshasa (been there without leaving the plane, though), Nairobi.
  55. Regions I’d like to visit: Japan, Australia, Thailand (although I’m a bit scared of the food there), Canada, Iceland, some Arab country.
  56. Regions I’m not too keen on: in and around India, Russia, South America.
  57. I used to be keen on going to India to see a tea plantation. Perhaps I’d still like to go. I don’t cope too well with spicy food and the loss of creature comforts, though.
  58. I own only two Lonely Planet guides. They’re on California and Nevada and on Southern Africa.
  59. My favourite animals are elks. I (very) briefly saw one in Norway and I have a cuddly elk called Kalle at home.
  60. I have never eaten elks, but I have tried springbok, impala, many other kinds of deer, alligator and ostrich.
  61. I’ll eat most things that taste nice and won’t crawl off the plate.
  62. I can’t take very spicy food. But I’m training. Today I’ll eat some numbed down Thai dishes much more gracefully than I did a few years ago.
  63. I avoid Indian food, though. Even if it’s Europeanised enough to not be too spicy, I just don’t like the taste of all those yellow spices they put in there. Update: I’ve had a nice dish since which was supposedly Indian but didn’t have any of those yellow spices in it.
  64. I enjoy cooking. I always end up cooking one of the following, though: Pasta, pancakes with spinach, mushrooms and cheese, thin pizza (famously), lasagne, boiled lentils with herbs, fried herring or trout, aubergines in black bean sauce, steamed chicken with spring-onion-and-ginger sauce, miso soup as a starter.
  65. Cooking rice perfectly is hard. I really want a rice cooker, like all the Asian people seem to have. Update: I have a rice cooker now.
  66. I should be able to make sushi then. Update: I have made sushi a number of times by now and it’s both tasty and fun.
  67. I only started cooking to have an excuse for making and eating desserts. Favourites are: Tiramisu (subtle and famous, even with the Italian critics), mousse au chocolat (nice, simple and overrated), ginger-parfait (a good surprise, most people won’t guess what it is just by tasting it and actually shiver at the thought if you tell them beforehand).
  68. I only got into desserts because I have a mouth full of sweet teeth and liked baking. The first cake I made was a marble cake for my brother’s birthday. I specifically got up at five in the morning to have it ready for breakfast. It was less-than-perfect.
  69. My skills improved since and I’m always happy to whip up some scones, a simple apple, cherry, nut or marble cake. For more fancy occasions, I’ll make a cheese cake (baked cheese cake for anybody who thinks the other stuff deserves that name). Recent additions are rhubarb crumble and waffles.
  70. I used to like baking with my grandmother. She made Buchteln for me, which I had read of in a children’s book and my mum didn’t want to make. I also was allowed to help.
  71. In contrast, my mum doesn’t like me using her kitchen.
  72. Living with my French flatmate Rubens, I learned that a meal should consist at least of salad, main dish, coffee and cheese. I also learned that you shouldn’t have several courses on your plate at the same time.
  73. That’s quite opposite to what I learned in South Africa where people pile everything up on their plate at once.
  74. I prefer tea but I also like coffee. Particularly after meals. It should be strong but may have milk in it as well.
  75. No chocolate powder on my cappuccino, please.
  76. And real, that is full cream milk.
  77. I try to avoid degenerate food as is found in most readymade meals or fast food chains.
  78. When visiting friends in California in 2000, all I bought at McDonalds during my two week stay was a Coke.
  79. They asked whether we wanted a burger and fries with it.
  80. I’ve owned three CD players in my life: built into a Philips compact stereo (199?), Panasonic discman (1999), built into Linn Classik compact stereo (2002).
  81. I also have a record player and buy more records than CDs. I wouldn’t consider myself an analogue zealot, though.
  82. Since, the discman has been replaced by my iPod.
  83. I’ve owned six computers in my life: Atari 1040STFM (1989), Macintosh LC III (1993), PowerMacintosh 8200/120 (1996), Powerbook G4/400 (2001), Macintosh SE (built in 1987, received in 2002), iBook G4 (2005).
  84. My latest – and unvoluntary – addition to the list is the one I am least enthusiastic about as despite the years that passed in between it doesn’t offer any real advantages over its predecessor.
  85. I find naming those gadgets important. My LC III used to be boringly called ‘Sven’. When having the PowerMac, I switched to ‘Kalle’ at some stage. Other names have included the Teletubbies ‘Dipsy’ and ‘Laalaa’ as well as ‘Zoidberg’ for various hard drives, ‘Nibbler’ for the SE and ‘よしみ’ for my iPod.
  86. Together these machines sport 1+12+64+640+2,5+1536 = 2255,5MB of RAM
  87. Programming history: Basic on my dad’s programmable calculator by Sharp (circa 1988), 10 PRINT "DER C64 IST DOOF." 20 GOTO 10 RUN on a friend’s Commodore 64 (circa 1989), silly text based games in Basic on the Schneider CPC-464 of Martin’s brother (circa 1990), Logo on the Atari as learned in some school project (circa 1990), extensive HyperCard usage (from 1994), Pascal in school (1995), C self-taught (a hate-hate relationship since 1997), RealBasic (1998), AppleScript (1998), Objective-C (2001), two lines of JavaScript (2003), a few lines of PHP (2003).
  88. Shareware applications I paid for (and can remember): Bolo (by Stuart Cheshire who even sent out a very nice christmas card back then), DirectTeX, Alpha, Anarchie, PlayerPro, FinderPop, MacSOUP, GraphicConverter, Airburst, FruitMenu, LaunchBar, SideTrack, NewsFire, Inquisitor, Transmit, Battery Hen, SubEthaEdit. We also got free licenses of Watson and Bub and Bob as a thank yous for UnicodeChecker and Dreamland Checker.
  89. Of those, I only use seven regularly these days.
  90. Oldest e-mail I still have seems to be from 1995.
  91. Oldest document on my hard drive that I can still use is a TeX file from 1992.
  92. I don’t like Germans.
  93. Just compare German border officials at the airport to those in other countries, say the Netherlands. The German ones make you want to leave immediately.
  94. German officials have moustaches.
  95. German tourists wear sandals. With socks.
  96. The most important word in German is Verboten.
  97. When trying to pass other people, Germans will say Achtung! where every decent person would say Excuse me.
  98. There are good things about Germany, but I only remember them when I’m away.
  99. Shops in Germany close at eight or earlier. Really makes life hard.
  100. I never understood why people lock doors twice. It pisses me off when I unlock a door and then have to unlock it once more before being able to open it.

February 14, 2006, 1:03

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