Archive | August 2009

The last Days of Summer

Sitting Outside. Photo: Ulla Hennig

Sitting Outside. Photo: Ulla Hennig

Today is the last day of August. August has been a wonderful month here in Berlin – sunny, warm, even hot, with nights you could spend outside. I had my holidays in July and the first week of August, but even with going to work I could enjoy the summer.

On my way to the subway I bathed my eyes in the green of the trees and the grass; I watched the birds hopping from branch to branch on their search for an early morning meal; I raised my eyes to the cloudless blue sky and thought: What a day!

Okay, my office room was a bit warm and sticky, and you had to find out the proper method of opening windows in the morning, closing them after a certain time and then opening the door. But everybody was relaxed due to the great weather.

And then the evenings: Coming home from work, passing my local restaurant with its beautiful garden, dropping in when I felt like it. Having a latte or a glass of nice cold beer. Sitting there at one of those small round tables, letting my eyes wander from the green to the blue to the green again.

Now September comes – with more work at the office (term begins in the middle of October in German universities, but staff arrives and many of them use the still easy time to prepare the term), national elections on September 27, the changing of the tree colors, fresh nights and warm days. And not to forget: three more Squidoo lenses to do!

Accountability – And a Shout Out for Barbara Ling

Some time ago I wrote a blog post about the Forums over at Income Fitness, managed by Barbara Ling. I can repeat every word I wrote in that post.

My point today is somewhat different. As you can see in the screenshot above, Barbara Ling, the owner of the forums has installed a new thread – Income Fitness Journals, and you may notice, too, that I am writing my journal there. Everybody else who likes to do this, can write her or his journal there, writing about his goals and her steps towards these goals. Other persons can read it, can comment on it, can cheer you up.

Up to today I had an online journal which was not open to the public. On Thursday, 27 August, I am changing this. I am going public with my goals, my expectations, my plans, my hopes and my failures. I make myself accountable.

Making money on the and with the web is not my main goal (though I would not complain if some money comes in via the web). My main goal by joining this thread is to become more aware of my goals, to learn to set realistic goals and to plan the proper steps towards those goals, and to manage to overcome the obstacles with the help of the kind community there.

You are invited to follow.

Graffitti – City Art II

Graffiti. Photo: Ulla Hennig

Graffiti. Photo: Ulla Hennig

Art in general is something you can have discussions about, especially Modern Art. But regarding the paintings on the sculpture above most of you will say “No, that’s definitely not art, that’s simply smearing paint on something”. But here is the definition of Art written in Wikipedia:

“Art is the process or product of deliberately arranging elements in a way that appeals to the senses or emotions.”

Well, elements have been deliberately arranged, haven’t they? And I bet the photo made you react in some way. We often associate art with beauty, with proper proportions. Can there be art that is ugly?

I must admit that everytime I have been passing that sculpture in the last days I actually thought that it had nothing to do with art at all. After having read the quotation of Wikipedia, I am not so sure anymore…

What is your definition of Art? Let’s talk about it in the comments’ section!

Blogging and Squidoo lenses – how does this go together?

One of my first squidoo lenses. Screenshot: Ulla Hennig

One of my first squidoo lenses. Screenshot: Ulla Hennig

I have been blogging for more than one year now, and I have joined Squidoo at the end of May 2009. I have been also a member of flickr for a much longer time – in fact uploading my photos to flickr was my first activity regarding the use of social media.

Blogging and uploading my pictures have been taking  a lot of free time  (it took me weeks to process and upload my photos from my travel through the Baltic countries), so the question was and still is: can I afford to begin with such a time-consuming activity as writing Squidoo lenses? (I wrote a a guest post on Squidoo over at Joyful Jubilant Learning so if you want to know the basics of Squidoo, just hop over and read the guest post!)

My answer to date is: Yes, but only under one condition: The three activities – uploading photos to Flickr, blogging, writing lenses – should not be seen as separate activities, independent from each other, but as activites connected with each other.

Let me give an example:

The screenshot you can see at the beginning of the post is a screenshot of one of my lenses, Berlin, the Green City. It would not have been possible to write it without my pictures on Flickr. That’s rather obvious, isn’t it? And how does blogging come in? Well, if you follow my blog regularly you will have noticed that there are quite a few blog posts on the green side of Berlin. I took those blog posts as a foundation for my Squidoo lens. I had to do some rewriting, though, because squidoo lenses are much more focused on giving useful information to their readers than my blog posts are.

So working on one social media could be useful for the other two, not only in relation to content but also in relation to sending visitors from flickr to the blog, from the blog to the lens, from the lens to the blog…

City Art

Mural paintings in Kreuzberg. Photo: Ulla Hennig

Mural paintings in Kreuzberg. Photo: Ulla Hennig

Paint on walls can be ugly. There are quite a few buildings smeared with paint here in my district, Kreuzberg. Kids smear on walls to leave their signs there (They use the English word “tagging” to describe what they do), to demonstrate that they are somebody.

On the other side paint on walls can be very nice, can be art. The photo above show a house five minutes away from where I live. It has got mural paintings all over, and it has got a strip on the wall which is free for anybody to spray their colours on. I often see them working there, having something painted on a piece of paper and now trying to transfer it to the bigger space on the wall. Every two weeks or so this strip is painted over with white paint, in order to offer a new space for a new group of artists.

Follow me over to Joyful Jubilant Learning!

Today I am having a guest post over at Joyful Jubilant Learning. It’s about Summer, Learning and Squidoo.

I have joined Squidoo in June 2009, so I am quite a newbie, but a newbie with her first learning experiences. If you want to read about them, follow me over to!

Going back to University for eight Weeks

No, I won’t leave my job at the university after those eight weeks.

I am going to learn at a kind of university for eight weeks. I have been invited to join the RocketMoms Class #3. Well, probably you’ve never heard about “RocketMoms” at all. Let me quote from the RocketMoms Headquarter Page at Squidoo:

“RocketMoms is an invite-only gathering of the smartest women on the web,  working together to make Squidoo lenses and a whole lot more. Here is a sneak peek at just a few of the lenses they’re busy creating.

RocketMoms are committed to raising the bar. They are dedicated to creating top-notch, focused, remarkable, creative content online. And along the way they learn, share, and teach other moms about Squidoo, Twitter, blogging and a whole lot more. Each session, the RocketMoms are challenged to create 8 web pages (called lenses) on various topics. The RocketMoms then critique these lenses, lend support and help each other improve and promote their work. It’s a challenge, a community, a classroom and a hobby. It’s also an awful lot of fun!”

It is the first time in my life that I have to do weekly assignments (believe me, I’ve been to a German university, but we don’t have weekly assignments – there’s usually one essay you have to write in the whole term and you can hand it in half a year later). One lens a week – will I meet that challenge? On the other hand one year ago I did not believe that I would be able to write three blog posts in a week (There are still days, usually shortly before I have to sit down and write my blog post, when I believe I won’t be able to deliver, but then the creative juices somehow begin to flow). And learning, and most of all, learning in a group, is fun. And to get support from other people makes things so much easier. That I did learn here on my blog – I know there is a wonderful community waiting for my next blog posts and I don’t want to disappoint them, but to bring  joy to them.

So Monday it will be – the beginning of a new learning period. I will keep you posted here on my blog.

Berlin in the Summer

Lake Tegel in Berlin. Photo: Ulla Hennig

Lake Tegel in Berlin. Photo: Ulla Hennig

No, this is not a lake somewhere in Mark Brandenburg. We are in Berlin, at the shores of Lake Tegel, which can easily be reached by public transport. And this is only one of the many places in Berlin where you can watch the swans, ducks and boats coming in and going out. Berlin is a green City, and if you want to know more about this aspect, you can visit my Squidoo lens “Berlin, the Green city“.

There are times where Berlin is dull, dreary, grey. But in the summertime, it is a wonderful city: you can sit outside in one of the many cafés and have a cool drink or a hot coffee. You can take a book and go to one of the many parks; some of them even have chairs to sit on. You can go by boat along the Landwehrkanal or the River Spree, and of course you can stroll along the famous boulevard “Unter den Linden”.

The weather forecast announces that August and September will be very nice and warm. So I look forward to the weekends with Berlin in the Summer!

A Place to Breathe

My local steakhouse. Photo: Ulla Hennig

My local steakhouse. Photo: Ulla Hennig

This is a place I like to go to on the weekend: just a few meters away from where I live there is a lovely steakhouse, managed by two young men in their 20ies, with a wonderful patio. Since Easter 2009 they have been offering delicious food, tasty wine and beer and – a place to breathe.

One of the young man is a Palestinian. He speaks German without accent. The other one is a Berliner – he also speaks German without accent. If you like to get a perfect service you have to come to that rather inconspicuous restaurant in a more than inconspicious district. Although I am living near the Potsdamer Platz and the famous Friedrichstraße I am living in a part of Berlin where the majority of the people communicate in the Turkish or Arabian tongue. They have got their own snack bars. Most of the few German people who still live in the flats next to mine are unemployed and haven’t got the money to eat in a restaurant. So both young men very much depend on tourists coming along the road and dropping in.

I admire their courage to open a restaurant in the current economic crisis. I admire the way they do business and the way they make everybody welcome. Sometimes I drop in just for a small glass of beer when I come back from work and I sit on the patio, looking at the blue sky and breathe.

By the way – the steakhouse is called “Steakhaus Asador” – in case you might come to Berlin and want delicious food, good wine, cold beer and a perfect service!

Great Expectations

Sitting room. In the middle of the room is a table covered with a white tablecloth and set with three wine glasses. Three chairs are arranged around the table. Then three people enter the room: a plump woman in her 50ies, a man at the same age with broad shoulders and a young man about 25 years old, with longish brown hair. Whereas the couple is clad in rather formal clothes, the young man is wearing washed out jeans and a t-shirt. The young man is their son, who has applied for fine arts at the university. He got “the letter” from it. The parents invited him in their house to hear the latest news.

Woman: Pete, just sit here at your usual place, please. And Mike, can you bring the wine bottle please, the one I bought today at the supermarket?

Woman and son sit down. The man goes into the kitchen. The woman is rather excited, rubs her hands, takes up her wine glass and puts it down again, tries to smooth the table cloth. The son is staring at the table. The man comes back with a big wine bottle, reading the label.

Man: reads Char-donn-ay. Never heard that name before.

Woman: It is a French wine. My friend Glenda told me that it is a very nice one. She’s got some experience with wine, you know.

Man: You can say that! opens the bottle with some difficulty. There it is! pours the wine into the three glasses.

Woman: raises her glass Well, to the future student of the Fine Arts!

Son: looks up, cleans his throat Well, wait a moment, Mom.

Woman: puts her glass down Being accepted at the university is a reason to drink to, Pete. You are such a modest person. You’ve ever been. Do you remember, Mike, when he’s got that letter from his teacher, telling us what a great artist we have in the familiy. He didn’t want to talk about it, our Pete, didn’t he?

Man: uh-uh.

Woman: And now he’s got that letter of acceptance from the university and doesn’t want us to drink to it! You know, I told Glenda yesterday, that we are so proud of having an artist in our family. And a student! The first one of the family! He won’t have to earn his money by selling cars to arrogant customers, like our Wayne has to do.

Man: There’s nothing bad with selling cars. His boss says he’s one of the best salesmen he ever had.

Woman: looks at the man and he won’t have to earn his money by putting bricks upon bricks each day!

Man: staring angryly at the woman and what’s wrong about that? We’re pretty well off with the wage I am carrying home every month! But I know you’ve  always wanted someone more educated! Someone in a business suit!

Son: Mom and Dad, please!

Woman: You’re right, Pete. Your father and I won’t quarrel on such a wonderful day, won’t we, Mike! I am so exited! When are you to begin your studies?

Son: To tell you the truth, Mom and Dad…

Woman and Man: Yes, Son?

Son: Not this year.

Woman: not this year? What does that mean? Next year, then?

Son: No. He gets off his chair. Well, I can as well tell you all about it. They told me that they could not accept me. No artistic potential what so ever. Should not try again. I am no artist, Ma! Never will be! runs out of the room.

The End

I wrote this piece because I wanted to try something I’ve never done before – writing a kind of screenplay. I don’t know anything about writing screenplays, I must admit. I just have a vague and amateurish idea how to write it. I can only publish it on my blog because I know that you, the community of my blog, are kind and capable of tolerating such an attack on any standards of writing. I promise: I won’t do it again!

This is a contribution to Mission(ImPossible) over at Joanna Young’s blog “Confident Writing”.