December 31, 2015

Happy 2016

And so another year has passed. Is it just me or did this one go by even faster than last year? It's an exciting year that lies ahead, and many new and interesting opportunities - a calendar full of unwritten pages.

My promise to myself is to keep on enjoying, allowing time for spontaneous meetings, keep on travelling - oh, and 2016 is the year I will most likely be going back to full time employment again, after having studied and freelanced for a while I feel it is time - and I am very excited about it. 

I hope to meet many interesting people,  to make a difference for some one, to eat many good meals - and I have a feeling that if I am only open, there are plenty of opportunities out there - so

HAPPY NEW YEAR, wherever you are! 

Greetings from Düsseldorf, Germany

December 02, 2015

World AIDS Day

Yesterday, December 1 2015, was World AIDS Day.

An important day.

HIV, the virus that when untreated can lead to AIDS, might not be a deadly decease the way it used to be any more, at least not where we have access to medicines and access to health care , but it low income countries and in countries where people are already struggling with other issues, HIV is a very real problem. In big parts of Africa, in Russia and eastern Europe, and in parts of Asia the virus is still spreading and spreading fast.

Even if AIDS related deaths according to numbers from UN have fallen with 48% since 2014, and even if the number of new HIV infections have gone done with 35% since 2000 that is a worldwide number - in some countries the number of HIV infections are either still climbing or are continuing to be high.

World AIDS Day works as an important reminder -  people are still dying across the globe, from AIDS related illnesses - it is not the virus itself that kills, nor AIDS, which HIV might develop into, if untreated, it is other illnesses that kill, illnesses that the body can't fight due to the immune defence being knocked out.

The video I link to here is from a new report from Kenya, from World AIDS Day. It serves as an important reminder that we still have a long way to go.

However there is hope, not the least because the number ARE really going down, globally. New infections among kids have fallen with 58% since 2000 (numbers from UN). Very few children born to HIV positive women are infected, IF the mother is aware that she is infected and is receiving treatment - HIV cannot be cured but it can be treated so those infected can live a normal life and so mothers don't transfer the virus to their children at birth.

Sadly HIV treatment medicines are not available to everyone though, and in some places whole villages and towns are threatened - what happens with the children when the parents have died, what happens to the old people when there are no younger people to care for them when they can't take care of themselves. 

What do you do to feed yourself when the breadwinners of the families are no longer able to work or when they are gone? 

November 28, 2015

#EGOUpdate - who are you

EGOUpdate - could it be the most interesting show so far?

We humans are so predictable.
"What do you work with".
Why is that so often the first question we ask when we meet someone new, after we asked their names? Is how someone is making a living what defines them? Should that really be the first question? 
Skateboard ramp with Eric Kessels' collection of feet selfies, at NRW-Forum Düsseldorf
Erik Kessels My Feet 2015 
© NRW-Forum Düsseldorf / Foto: Andreas Kuschner/ALIMONIE

Maybe we should ask what they are passionate about instead?

A lot of people also ask the question I really dislike, because I never know what to answer, the question that is so common in an international environment - I ask it too, from time to time:
"Where are you from?"
"Why do you want to know?"  I answer with a question. Do you want to know where I am a local, do you want to know where I live, do you want to know where I was born, or what kind of passport I have. or do you want to know where my family lives - and if you want to know where I was born, or where my family lives, why do you want to know that? Will you know who I am if you know where my family lives? Do you need to put a label on me?

We are very good at putting labels on people... Maybe it's only human. The question is what the labels really say about us? Maybe it says more about the person who is putting the label on someone than on the person who gets the label put on him/her, really? What IS an identity?

Photo of pictures of monkey selfies in a cage at NRW-Forum Düsseldorf
David Slater Monkey Selfies 2014 
© NRW-Forum Foto Andreas Kuschner / ALIMONIE
Who are you? Who am I?

And why are you that person? What defines us?

What makes us who we are?

And do we remain the same through life?

Do we humans not have different identities, take on different roles depending on whom we talk to? I believe we do, I believe we always have.

And are we alone with this notion of an ego, a self image?

November 17, 2015

A whole different issue - Charlie Sheen and his diagnosis

I don't follow celebrity news. I couldn't care less about celebrities for the sake of them being celebrities - and that's even more true after I moved to Germany. But now and then something comes through that I actually care about.

Today it was Charlie Sheen. 

Photo of boats, nothing to do with the article, just needed an uplifting picture
I don't care about Charlie Sheen as a celebrity, and I don't know him as a person - but a friend of mine posted a link today talking about Sheen going public with having HIV.
Charlie Sheen having HIV. 

This shouldn't even be news. Sheen has HIV, a virus that with the right medicines doesn't really have to impact a persons life at all. Charlie Sheen has access to those medicines. Sheen having HIV, or anyone else having HIV for that matter; it really shouldn't be something that makes the headlines - HIV doesn't, or at least shouldn't define a person. 

I personally think it's great that Charlie Sheen now talks about it openly. I think it's terrible that he does so because he felt forced to - according to media and the interview he did, he has been blackmailed. Imagine if the money Sheen has paid blackmailers had gone to supporting HIV positive people in poor countries, countries where many people can't afford the medicines, or if the money had gone to research? 

November 09, 2015

And her name is Deep Blue

The biggest Great White ever filmed

And she is beautiful! She may seem a bit chubby around the waste but that's because, they say, she might be pregnant.

She is really a massive this shark, apparently a female Great White, according to an article I read on  Live Science, Great Whites continue to grow also after they reach sexual maturity, unlike us humans, who more or less stop growing a few years after reaching puberty.

Those of you who have met me might know that I am kind of obsessed with sharks, and have been ever since I was little - many kids are but with me it just didn't stop. I love learning about sharks - often I read but from time to time I can't help but watch some videos. Magnificent animals - and there are supposed to be over 400 different types in our oceans - Sharks World tells us there are over 440 different types! And of those +400 only about a handful could be a threat to humans - and the majority are small ones, sharks we would hardly realise were sharks if we saw them - but yes, there are some big ones and some of the big ones are best avoided... 

November 03, 2015

On the topic of waste

A few words on waste and recycling

On the topic of waste I recently read that a Swedish supermarket is copying the French model selling fruits and vegetables that aren't picture perfect but have everything else a fruit and vegetable should have. Read more about the French project here, "Ugly Carrots" - I blogged about it earlier this year. 

I am very happy and excited that more countries take after the French example! Our resources are not for ever. We only have one planet. 

November 02, 2015

I found my doppelgänger

Maybe we all have a Lookalike

The first ever exhibition I saw at NRW-Forum Düsseldorf where I am now doing the English tours of #EgoUpdate exhibition  was Radical Advertising, a spellbinding exhibition about - you guessed it - advertising.

Recently I looked for some material about this exhibition and I was also reading up on some other things related to the Forum.

As so many other times when you use Google, I found a Wikipedia page, which, in English, talked about NRW-Forum and the exhibitions.

November 01, 2015

Voice interaction - is it always cool?

100 days of Google Dev - the Voice API

Recently I saw the video linked to here "Introduction to Voice Interaction API", from Google, a new API for Android , and it made me think about what the impact will be. 

With the new Voice API the applications can be programmed to have a dialogue with you. Not just saying things out loud, and giving commands, but actually having a kind of dialogue. 

I am not sure what I think about it...
  • From a technology point of view it is of course fascinating. It's utterly cool that your app can ask follow-up questions and get things right. 
  • From a user perspective it's also convenient when you have your hands full and are busy but still need to check something out. I can for example imagine myself using voice if I am checking a recipe and want to know the next step but my hands are covered in grease.
  • If you are in the car it's also pretty great, except personally I prefer setting the music/audiobook/whatever it is up BEFORE I start driving and then focus on the driving - it feels safer. But if you forgot, and you urgently need to check something to do with the road, voice is great - keep both hands on the steering wheel. 
However: I live in Europe; To commute often means using public transportation. This is where my concerns start. 

October 30, 2015

The digital identity and its future

EGOupdate - at NRW-Forum Düsseldorf

There is something very exciting going on...

In the preface of the Ego Update catalogue from NRW-Forum Düsseldorf, Alain Bieber, the director of the cultural centre that NRW-Forum Düsseldorf is writes:
"Hardly anything has altered and influenced photograhpy and our notion of identity as much as the digital revolution."

In the new (opened in September 2015) and very fascinating exhibition EGO Update NRW-Forum Düsseldorf is focusing on the EGO, the new identity in the digital era; 

It's a mesmerising exhibition curated by Alain Bieber, and it features a collection of artists all focusing on the Ego in different ways, from the German Jonas Unger with his celebrity selfies, Martin Parr, the British satirical photographer who has his portraits taken in cities he travels to for other work, Robbie Cooper who is fascinated with the alter-egos in the gaming world,  to LaTurbo Avedon, herself an avatar who makes digital self portraits - an artist that wouldn't even exist, had it not been for internet and digital media - David Slater with the monkey selfies that have been quite controversial, not the least because of the discussion around copyright - does it belong to the photographer or to the monkeys who took the photos with the camera the photographer had provided? 

Amalia Ulman, Argentinian born artist in a performance that stretched over several months faked getting a new life, a new face, a new identity is represented here, so is the Swedish born Arvida Byström, who in her often pink and on the surface very cute photos addresses difficult topics as gender roles, feminism, the search for identity, and so is Alison Jackson who takes us behind the scenes with the celebrities - or does she? 

September 27, 2015

Maybe the best food chain I have ever been to

The return to Din Tai Fung - 鼎泰豐 - in Taipei

Din Tai Fung - 鼎泰豐 (Din Tai Feng). It is a food chain, something I am generally not a fan of, food chains don't really do it for me, they are not very inspiring. But no rule without exception, right?
Picture of dumplings in a bamboo basket, with a small plate of cucumbers and another starter in front of the dumplings

This is the exception. 

You come here for the absolutely amazing xiaolong bao - 小籠包 - the juicy soup dumplings filled with pork, but you return for more than that - the wonderful pickled cucumber, the fried tofu, all the OTHER types of dumplings, the stir-fried Taiwanese leafy greens, and lots more. However, the Xiaolongbao are really a must, and I want the original ones, the ones with pork, even if the other types are equally tasty, just in a different way. No visit to Din Tai Fung without xiaolong bao.

Soup dumplings isn't something new, dumplings in general isn't something new, they are all over Taiwan and China, but the way this Taiwanese chain does them - that's special. When I bake I do it quite spontaneously, I know what approximate measures I need to follow, and I change depending on what I have home, how dry it is as that impacts the flour, and so forth. I improvise. Same, or even more when I cook. Not here.

At Din Tai Fung what you get is perfection. The soup dumpling themselves, the xiaolongbao, they are not dumplings IN a soup, that's a different thing, these are dumplings with the finest, thinnest dumpling skin, with a filling full of flavours, and with a bit of soup inside - and EVERY dumpling that goes out to the guests at Din Tai Fung is perfect, exactly the same size, exactly the same amount of content, and exactly the same number of folds to keep them together, and then they - at least the xiaolongbao - are steamed to perfection.

September 16, 2015

Returning to Taroko

Dramatic landscape - magic in the mountains

Recently I had the opportunity to return to Taroko Gorge in Taiwan, an area I wrote about already in 2014. Taroko gorge on the east coast of Taiwan, an area prone to earthquakes - it was not far from Taroko that the epicenter for the first earthquake I felt in Taiwan was.  Earthquakes and volcanoes are a part of everyday life when you live on the Ring of Fire, and while it's a hassle, and can indeed mean danger it has it's advantages - not just the  hotsprings and water rich in minerals, but it also makes for a very dramatic landscape. 

Taroko Gorge has been shaped by wind, rains - this is often the first area hit by the bad weather from the typhoons - landslides and earthquakes over thousands, no, millions of years. 

The mountains on Taiwan are high, far higher than the highest mountains in the Scandinavian countries, high as many of the mountains in southern Germany, France and Austria, and when it rains, it pours - and the water falls fast from the tops of the mountains and the rivers, which are merely trickles the rest of the time, become huge, untamed monsters eating their way through the landscape. Among the most dramatic landscape you can see and experience is in the Taroko Gorge, just north of Hualien, south of Yilan. 

August 29, 2015

Pineapple cake - OH so Taiwanese

May I offer you some pineapple cake?

The most important food souvenir there is from Taiwan? It might just be the pineapple cake, 鳳梨酥 - (fengli su). It's actually more of a shortbread, with a pineapple jam inside, and the pieces come individually packed, just enough for one bite, or maybe two. It's a common gift to bring to friends, and a common thing that tourists buy - fact is that pineapple cake is so popular and so important to the Taiwanese that I am told the country started to grow new types of pineapple to make sure there always are pineapples that are in season - what's in season is important to the Taiwanese. True or not, I don't know, but pineapple cake is always available - in nice gift boxes with a layer of individually wrapped little cake bits, or sold separately, bit by bit, to happy customers from all over the world. Where you get the best one? I can't say, but I know where I am returning to! 

Closeup of fresh pineapplesThe last time I was in Taiwan I spent the last day in Tamsui (Damshui), in Taipei, at the very end of the red line, by the water. It's, to be picky, in New Taipei, which basically is the extended Taipei, it stretches out beyond the old, central quarters of the city.

I had an older Swedish couple with me, and I was showing them around. On the way back from Tamsui, where we had looked at the boats, eaten special noodles, had ice cream from the Turkish ice cream vendor juggling with the ice cream cones before handing them over to the customer, we stepped in to a shop selling pineapple cake, a nice little shop on the tourist street, which is full of shops selling whatever the tourists may be interested in - and yes, that goes for Taiwanese tourists as well.  As I was explaining the pineapple cake and the importance to the Swedes, in Swedish, the young Taiwanese woman in the shop looked oddly at me - and then she started to talk to us, in Swedish! Very unexpected - and another reminder how small the world is, and how many amazing people and fantastic situations you may find yourself in if you just keep an open mind, and an ear open to what's going on around you.

August 25, 2015

This is not a travel blog

Don't ask me for advice

Or do, but be aware that the response you get might not be what you expected or answer the question you had. Never follow my advice blindly. Unless my advice says "always carry tissues when you travel in Asia" because that's actually a good one in a part of the world where you don't always have toilet paper. 

This is not a travel blog.

This is a blog about my passions, about things I feel are important - sustainability, food, equal rights, and a lot more. Yes, there is travelling here as well, because travel is a part of my life, a part of who I am - but don't ever call my blog a travel blog or me a travel blogger. 

It isn't. I'm not.

Nor is it a traditional blog full of "Top 5 things to do" or "How to pack your bag" or "10 things you didn't expect" because that's not who I am. I gave up on even reading tips like that years ago - they never reflect what I feel is best practise for me, or how I travel, or what I have done or want to do. We are all different and we travel for different reasons and with different agendas. I can't even give myself the same advice every time I travel, because a business trip is not the same as a leisure trip, a trip to a big city isn't the same as one to a village. A trip with someone is not the same as a trip on your own. Thinking it is would be as stupid as believing you could cook all food the same way; If you boil your pasta as long as you cook your lamb steak your pasta will be turned in to a sticky dough, or your lamb will be raw.

August 13, 2015

Tea in Taiwan (and China)

Oolong - the Black Dragon - and other teas

If you think of a drink in Taiwan or China, you are probably very likely to think of tea - we westerners tend to associate China and Taiwan with tea - and for a good reason, a big part of the tea we drink in the world is had in the Chinese speaking world - if you read the stories tea has been around in the Chinese culture for around 5000 years - if not more. 

Tea Plantations in Alishan
There are whole ceremonies surrounding the tea drinking, and we are not talking the teabag in a cup, hot water from the kettle, and some milk. You rarely drink milk with your standard teas in China and Taiwan, at least not the tea you have with your food - no one but a barbarian would think of putting milk in their tea that comes with the food. And very few would dream of using a tea bag, especially for the tea that is served with the food. If you get tea made with a teabag in Taiwan or China, you are most likely in a foreigner's home, or with someone who is international and is trying to adjust to you (or have tea for breakfast). In Taiwan and China you get tea by the pot, and you drink it out of small cups.

When it comes to dinner, I try and drink tea the way the Chinese and the Taiwanese drink their tea. In tiny cups and with frequent refills. Save the big mug for your European style morning tea.

Real tea doesn't come with milk.

Yes, there is the "Bubble Tea", 珍珠奶茶, zhenzhu naicha - "Pearl Milk Tea" as well, very common in Taiwan, where it has the roots, and spread to the Western world, but Bubble tea is more of a refreshment, almost like a soft drink, and only if you are lucky there might be some real tea in it, often there are just fruit juice extracts. Bubble tea comes in big cups, contains a lot of sugar and in the original there is milk, and tapioca pearls. And yes, black tea, but nowadays, it's just as often a sweet juice with tapioca pearls. That doesn't count. Bubble tea is not tea.  Not tea the way we think of it. And I have, to be honest, not even had bubble tea in Taiwan, it's spread out enough over Europe, and I had it here. I am not a huge fan. I like proper tea. Why not Oolong tea, at least it has a great name.

August 07, 2015

Take the opportunity to see - China 8

China 8 - a mesmerizing exhibition 

Contemporary Chinese art - in Germany 2015

Hand holding chinese fortune cookies and a note "China 8"
CHINA 8: Overview - Blicke auf China (Ausstellungsansicht) 
© NRW-Forum Düsseldorf, 
Foto: Andreas Kuschner / ALIMONIE 
If you join the German tour, or if you join me for the English one - that's not what matters. At least not to me. I'd love to have you on the English tour, of course - I get so much energy from doing these tours, and due to the audience, no tour is the same - but what really matters to me is that you come and see what China8 has to offer. 

China8 is indeed unique and it is an exhibition that deserves your attention! You never know when you will get the opportunity to see and learn so much again, and I recommend taking a tour. In English or in German - just come an join us! If you come to NRW-Forum in Düsseldorf for the English tour you'll be listening to me, while one of the other excellent guides are doing the tours in German. 

China 8 is the biggest exhibition of Chinese Contemporary Art ever put together - 8 cities in North-Rhein Westphalia are participating, 9 museums all together, and around 120 of different artists - I wrote about it on the blog before

I have lived in Taiwan myself, and spent a considerable time in South East Asia, on my own, with my friends and my family, privately as well as on business - in China, Hong Kong, Macao, but also in other parts of South East Asia, where the Chinese presence is high, and throughout the years I have seen many art exhibitions and attended many art seminars - I have always had a strong interest in art - and I can honestly say that the way I felt when I first entered the museum and spotted the first painting I saw, was quite special, and quite unique. It is hard to describe - it was the painting "2008" by Lü Shanchuan, 吕山川 - and it was as if I had been pulled back to Beijing, I could hear the chatter, smell the food, feel the anticipation - the painting shows a banquet hall during the Olympics in Beijing 2008.

August 02, 2015

Ugly carrots

On the topic of Food Waste

On the topic of food waste which I wrote about recently, when posting a link to John Oliver's Tonight Show about Food Waste:

The super market chain Intermarché, in France, ran a campaign 2014, a campaign trying to get the consumers to buy the fruits and vegetables that aren't picture-perfect, but are just as healthy and as tasty as those who are. 
The campaign is called "Inglorious Fruits and Vegetables"

And it is an absolutely brilliant campaign, if you ask me - because why on EARTH do we insist on throwing away huge amounts of perfectly good and healthy food just because it doesn't follow some beauty norm we have set up?

We definitely are strange, we humans. 

July 23, 2015

It's time we do something about all that waste

Let's stop the waste, shall we?

Those of you who know me well that one of my pet peeves is food waste. I don't like waste in general, but I especially have a problem with food waste. We throw away tremendous amounts of food in the world.

Food waste is bad in so many ways, and I can talk about it for hours. 

However, to me it's just not about throwing away food, it's also about using food inefficiently, or not taking care of bits and pieces that are good except we don't know about it. 

The leaves on radishes are one example. Radishes often come with the green still attached to them, and like most, I used to cut these leaves off and throw them away - until  I learnt from a Persian woman that the leaves are delicious*. 

I am happy to see that the world is starting to open their eyes to this. John Oliver talked about Food Waste on Late Night recently - and he is a master when it comes to illustrating a problem. Yes, he jokes about it, and I am not saying his language always is suitable for every viewer, but he reads up on what he talks about.

A summary for those of you who are too busy to watch:

  • We overproduce food, which is very bad for the environment.
  • We throw away food that shouldn't be thrown away - bad for our environment.
  • Have "beauty requirements" for our food which makes us throw away perfectly good food - bad for the environment.
  • A lot of food never even makes it to the market - because it isn't pretty enough. Bad for the environment
  • Food left to rot produces greenhouse gases - bad for the environment
  • We waste so much food that it's like buying four bags of food and throwing away one of them. Bad for the environment.

According to this video, 40% of the food produced in US is thrown away. I have heard numbers as high as up to 50%, but it all comes down to how you measure, what food you are looking at, if you look at what actually reaches the markets and supermarkets or if you look at the total produced, and much more. 40% is bad enough, or around 25% of the food we buy, we never eat. Not very good for the wallet - and terrible for the environment.

wrote about it before, in a post on Sustainable Eating and Cooking. And I am convinced I'll write about it again. The more I learn, the more it bugs me. 

* I should have known about the radish leaves, because the dears love them - but it never occurred to me that we could eat them. Now I know better; I rinse them and use in salads, they have a nice, peppery flavour. 

July 21, 2015

China 8 at NRW-Forum Düsseldorf

China 8

The biggest Chinese Contemporary Art Exhibition ever put together so far.
China in white text, on red background, with a black eight in the background.
China 8, Logo, Web

8 Cities

9 museums

One airport

Over 120 different artists 

And every last Friday of the month the NRW-Forum Düsseldorf offers English tours at the here in Düsseldorf, Germany.

This is a unique exhibition with many different types of Chinese contemporary art, and at NRW-Forum Düsseldorf we have a summary of the whole exhibition. There are so many fantastic and fascinating artists on display here, Lam Tungpang (林東鵬‭ in mandarin), Hu Jienming (胡介鸣), Huang Min (黃敏)  and many many more. 

Yes, you should definitely make your way to the other locations too, Museum Folkwang in Essen being one of them, with an interesting collection of contemporary art photography - Du Yanfang ( 杜艳芳) being one of my favourites in that exhibition, with her photos from daily life in China, with elements drawn into the photos, using traditional ink - much of the Chinese contemporary art picks up elements from traditional Chinese art, and that, to me, makes it even more interesting and inspiring. 

Go to every one of the 9 museums participating in this exhibition if you can.

However, if you can go to only one museum, why not chose the one museum that has a little bit of everything, the one museum where you can get a mesmerising summary of China 8. Come and join us at NRW-Forum Düsseldorf. You really don't want to miss this. 

(And should the last day of the month not suit you, there is a possibility for your organisation or your group to book a private tour, at a time that suits you better, but for that you need to contact the museum directly, here (link in German, to the page for tour reservations).  

More about the whole exhibition and all the 9 museums, as well as the ticket which allows you to travel to and go to each and every one of them? Follow this link: China 8

Most of all I of course want you to come and join the tour, either one of the public ones - the last Friday of the month, at 8pm (20:00), until the exhibition closes in September- or book a private one for your group, here.  If you come to the museum for one of the public tours, the tour is included in the entrance to the museum - and in connection with the tour, RhineBuzz organises an English speaking get-together at the bar, open to everyone, also those who already saw the tour or want to save it for later. It's a brilliant opportunity to hear more about what's going on in the city - not the least for the new-comers.

So see you at Ehrenhof 2 in Düsseldorf, close to Tonhalle U-bahn stop on the 31 of July or August 28? The tour starts at 20. Very much looking forward to meeting you!

Huang Min View, review, 2010 (Detail) Oil on canvas 218 x 1600 cm © Huang Min
All photos in this post are part of the press materials from NRW-Forum, Düsseldorf (see link)

June 26, 2015

Designing for everyone

Let's include, not exclude

When I say it's great to go back to the roots I don't mean web development, which is where I once upon a time started (before I got pulled in too deep in the corporate world), I mean that it's great to be back and really be involved in the tech, the details, and actually DO rather than just tell others what to do. Less politics, more tech - thanks. Yes, I am also a project leader, and yes, I like to lead project, even though I nowadays prefer smaller projects and software/tech projects rather than the huge business project I have been involved in before - but usability will always be one of the fields I care a lot about, and I would love to work a lot more actively with usability. Not just design, usability, the whole experience.  

And when it comes to usability and accessibility I am a great fan of being involved in the creation of apps, sites and software in general that are accessible to as many as possible can use them. 

I really enjoyed this article on designing for colour blindness, "Designing for (and with) colour blindness" by Aaron Tenbuuren, whom I don't know but apparently is a colour blind American designer. It gives you some great clues into how colour blindness CAN work - and tips on how to address the issues.

June 22, 2015

Don't Drink and forget to think

Don't Drink and Dive

This is powerful - and very scary. 

Yes, it's sponsored by an insurance company and normally I don't post sponsored YouTube videos etc, I am not here to sponsor other companies. But this one is an important and very powerful one - Don't Drink and Dive - with several sponsors. It is part of a bigger campaign to reduce the number of drowning incidents in Sweden. A large amount of the people drowning in countries like Sweden, where learning to swim is part of the education - it is mandatory to learn to swim - is people under the influence of alcohol or other drugs.

Swedish World Champions of Synchronised Swimming trying to perform their winning act under the influence of alcohol - with, thankfully, a rescue team standing by. I knew it would be bad. That it would be this bad? No.

Remember, these are people who swim professionally. You and I? Few of us are professionals. If the professionals are suffering like this, what do you think would happen to you and me? Just don't get into the water. Think. 

Don't drink and dive. Nor drink and drive. 

When you drink and dive you "only" risk your own life and the lives of those who try and rescue you, when you drink and drive you are risking the lives of many others - that car/motorcycle is one heavy piece of equipment if something was to happen. 

From the campaign itself - this is what they say, in English, on the site:  

In 2014 more people drowned in Sweden than in any other year in the last decade. In fact, in the month of July, Swedish water-related accidents cost more lives than road traffic accidents. Most of the drowning victims were men and the majority had consumed alcohol. 
Many authorities are working hard to reverse this trend. But we also need your help to spread the message and ensure we change our behaviour when drinking around water environments.
To show how alcohol affects our judgement and capabilities, we asked some of the world’s most sought after Synchronised Swimming Team, to perform their routine for us. Drunk. They were filmed for the short documentary Don’t Drink and Dive. Members of the three-time world champion Stockholm Men’s Synchronised Swimming Team are also representative of those most likely to drink and dive in Sweden – middle aged men. 
The film was recorded from 19.03 on the night of March 28th – 29th, 2015 at a swimming pool in Uppsala, Sweden. In addition to the synchronised swimmers from Stockholm, the Swedish national swimming team doctor, René Tour, two lifeguards from the Swedish Life Saving Society and Certified rescue diver Linnea Persson also took part. No-one was injured during the filming.
I know this has little to do with what I normally blog about but a lot of us do things differently when we are travelling, or when we are in a new environment. Don't switch of your brain just because you switch off from work.

Stay safe.

And make sure others do too.

June 10, 2015

Inspired by DroidCon - part 1 - Embrace Change!

A career doesn't have to follow a straight line

or To Change Careers. Inspiration from DroidCon

Flag with android robotRecently, when attending DroidCon in Berlin, I listened to a talk on accessibility -Accessibility in Action (see link) - by Kelly Shuster, available on the DroidCon Berlin YouTube feed.

Kelly Shuster is an excellent speaker and what she said really caught on;  I simply like a society where everybody can take part and be included. I'll talk more about accessibility in a separate post, but the important thing here is Kelly Shuster caught my attention, and when I came back to Düsseldorf I wanted to get her materials so I could go through it again. When looking for the said materials on Github* I came across not just the materials from the talks in Berlin but I also found the link to Kelly Shuster's website/blogspace.

And this is what THIS specific post is about. 

Kelly writes about how she participated in a panel event in Denver recently, and at this event the panel members had the chance to share some useful advice with the audience - advice they would have given their old selves if they could. The advice Kelly shared were the following:

  • Don't be afraid to ask questions
  • Don't be afraid to take a step down, to step sideways
  • Start saying Yes and follow through

The bullet point really hit home. Especially the second point, "Don't be afraid to take a step down, to step sideways". In a way I did just that myself - took a step down. I left a good company, where I worked with amazing people whom I learnt so much from, but it was time for a change - it was time to challenge myself.

May 20, 2015

GDG Düsseldorf - The Summer Challenge

The Summer Challenge

GDG Düsseldorf Summer Fun Challenge

I am a and happy member of GDG Düsseldorf (the link will take you to our website), and we also run Women Techmakers Düsseldorf Chapter - I mentioned it earlier in a post where I talked about how I am starting yet another chapter

We are active on Google Plus - you can find us here, and also post/start discussions etc:

Those of you who are techies/geeks like me (although I try my best to pretend I am perfectly normal), may know that Google have a Tech conference every year, Google I/O. Across the globe Google I/O Extended events are organised, where people gather and listen to the keynotes, talk about geeky stuff (because, yes, it DOES get pretty geeky, one of the reasons I really like it), and socialise.

We do the same here in Düsseldorf, with GDG Düsseldorf.

And, to make it extra fun and attract more people, we are arranging a little competition, a coding/design competition, where our members/attendees get the opportunity to win pretty interesting prizes, prizes we got through our sponsors.

Now we are of course trying to make sure we spread the word, both about the Google I/O Extended event and the SummerFunChallenge

May 18, 2015

Dreaming about Food Markets

Food Markets - a reason as good as any to travel

or In Munich they understand the Swedish need for mustard

Market stand with carrots, cabbage and other vegetables
As some of you may have gathered, food is one of my big passions. Weird, some may say, considering my professional background is in IT. People in IT can't be passionate about anything but food, right?

Not weird at all, I say. Fact is, I am lucky enough to have someone around me who is as much in to good food as I am, only in a different way (he doesn't cook, at all, he just likes to eat really well).

Much of my travel is in one way or the other connected to food. 

The last few months have been quite hectic though, and due to that I haven't had much chance to travel - it's not the least my studies taking time - I very much enjoy it, it is very interesting, and I love being on the way back to the tech field - taking a break, upgrading my skillset, getting away from the corporate world for a bit, it has all been great and has helped me to grow as a person, but it is hard when I have to make a choice between things I love to do - and travel is and will always be very important to me. Travel.

And good food.

May 13, 2015

There Are Days - a trip to the sea

There are days…

Some days are days when Germany feels … Feels a bit too familiar. Düsseldorf becomes a bit too comfortable. Days I feel I know this city too well, I know what to expect around every corner, even when that's not true.

Other days I just need a break, a break from myself, maybe, a break from the routine - especially when things are really busy, something I am sure everyone has felt.

And yet other days I just need to feel the smell of the salty water and the wind in my hair, because whatever you feel about Düsseldorf and about Germany, there are very few places where you can smell the sea.

I often do miss the salt, the smell of the ocean, and the freshness that it brings. I don’t miss my hair going all weird and out of control and how the humidity turns me into a troll, when my otherwise relatively straight hair starts to do itself up with funny little curls in the next and around the face- but troll or not, there is something about being close to the coast, no matter how sticky it can get in the summer and how much chillier it makes the winters, even when the temperatures aren't very low - believe me, winter in Taiwan, on an island in the middle of the sea is the evidence of that - in Taiwan I had to visit the hotsprings to warm up - you can read about that here.

April 10, 2015

Last Chance To See - English tour of NeoRealismo and Human Nature

NeoRealismo and Human Nature at NRW Forum 

Are you in Düsseldorf, Germany?
River, sandbank and a bridge in the background, Düsseldorf TV-tower to the right
Are you there today, April 10 2015? The Friday? At 8 pm?

I know, I know. The weather is gorgeous today, it actually feels like there might be some summer around the corner (don't tell me "it won't last", I know it is April and weather come and go, I care about today, not tomorrow, not next month - I am happy about the "summer-around-the-corner"-feeling we have right NOW, today).

But weather or not - if you have the chance you really should consider coming to NRW Forum today at 8 pm. Through RhineBuzz NRW Forum, one of the most interesting museums in Düsseldorf, if you ask me, offers tours in English every 2:nd and 4:th Friday evening of the month - when there is an exhibition on.  German tours are offered as well, but of course, for tourists or those of us who aren't native speakers, the English ones are very attractive - I'll be there.

This is the LAST chance to see the regular tours of NeoRealismo and Human Nature, two fantastic exhibitions running in parallel at NRW Forum, right in the city centre, by the river, on Ehrenhof 2.

NeoRealismo and Human Nature has been on since January, when Düsseldorf Photoweekend 2015 was held, a fascinating weekend full of photo related events. These two exhibitions opened for the Photoweekend and have been on since, but now it's almost at the end, the exhibition closes after next weekend, and this is the last chance for the English regular tours. 

March 29, 2015

Yet another chapter

Another ride

As many of you have noticed, I haven’t really written anything in this blog the last few months.

Well, there are good reasons for that. I have been on the road a lot less than usual, for one. I have had my hands full.

Once upon a time - it sounds like it was a million years ago and the beginning of a fairy tale and there are days when it feels like it was both - I started working in IT. I had always had an interest in computers and in tech in general so it came natural.

When I first started I was working for what can only be described as a startup - an established corporation but I came in very early on when we were setting up a new site, and we were working very much independent - in many ways - from the mother company. It was interesting and fun but at the same time pretty tough - strange hours, a lot of pressure, and on call more or less 24&7. And I loved it, although admittedly, you can't do it for too many years, it wears you out after a while.

And then I moved on to new and interesting challenges, worked a lot with people, but always in IT, often being the link between IT and the business. The business focus has been strong all along.

After years with the same corporation and after years with a similar type of business, and away from the startup spirit, I however felt it was time to move on; A long story short, I resigned and moved to Taiwan to start learning Chinese. It was time for something new, and I loved that too.

February 10, 2015

Sustainable eating and cooking

It's all about food!

Is it still tasty? Can it still be eaten?

Anyone who knows me well enough or even looked at this blog it should be obvious that I am very passionate about food. Not long ago there was an occasion where at some weak moment I found myself suggesting marrying a cheese...  

Closeup of peppers, in red, orange, yellow, the colour of fire
Those who know me well know that sustainability is extremely important to me. Yes, I do fly, long distances are difficult to reach without flying, and I know that is bad for the environment, but I try and only do it when necessary, I take the train as often as I can, something I posted about here before.

Bit by bit I try and decrease my environmental footprint and live more and more sustainable. I don't shop for things I don't need, I try and eat well, run the dishwasher and washing machine full, and so on. I also avoid bottled water as much as possible - someone said recently that "everybody knows your view on bottled water" - and that's very true, where tap water is good I will stick to tap water, and I do tend to tell people why. And I try and decrease the waste I create.

February 04, 2015

Yet Again Tragedy Strikes my Beloved Taiwan

Yet Again Disaster... But why is it not known?

Today, February 4 2015, disaster again struck Taiwan.

This time a small aircraft with, media tells us, 58 people crashed in Taipei, the capital.

Luck, or a skilled pilot, had it that the plane didn't hit a building but went down in a river, Keelung river, preventing an even worse tragedy. BBC has some of the facts, and some horrific pictures of the crash itself:

New Year -It's a Different One

The Year of The Goat. Or The Sheep

Taiwanese market stand, full of jars with colourful food and signs in chineseThe New Year is coming up - although not quite yet, it is still a bit too early. New Year, it's already passed, you say? 

Not this New Year.

To the Taiwanese, the New Year as we know it matters, at Taipei 101, the building that once was the highest in the world, fantastic fireworks are organised, and thousands and thousands of people gather to see them - you have to plan your travel well to make sure you get a spot if you want to be close, and start early.  

January 25, 2015

Please Have Patience

The Blog is Not Gone

It's just been closed for maintenance.

I have also not been updating in a while, the list of topics to write about is long, finding the time to do so is more difficult, at least right now.

Studies that are soon to be finished (is the plan), startup plans, freelancing and life in general is at the moment taking priority.

But I will be back - I just can't say when.

Stay tuned, as they say...