9 posts categorized "Germany"

Another Car2Go story

I love this service.

A lot of people in Seattle are talking about the politics of ride sharing services.

But Car2Go is more like a self-service. Or the loan of hardware, I guess you could say. Because you find a car, passkey yourself in, and drive yourself to where you want to go.

Latest episode of ad hoc transportation delight: I left my downtown office midmorning yesterday, running for my car to make a meeting with a client in Fremont. When I got to the garage, I found I didn't have my keys on me. I started to trudge back to the office, thinking of the alternatives: be a half hour late; call instead of meet in person.

Then I thought of checking on whether a Car2Go buggy might be near. Checking the app, I found one a block away.

I was only 10 minutes late!

Got home the same way, via Car2Go parked outside the building I'd just visited.

Midweek Report

Birthday bits and pieces

Apologies to Doug Cornelius for borrowing the tagline he uses for his miscellanea posts.

The essential spirit for a Man About Town

Found Rittenhouse Rye!

6a01156e3d83cb970c019b01dc381b970d-580wiSince returning from Manhattan after having a Man About Town (or two) at the Gramercy Tavern, I've been on a quest to find Rittenhouse Rye in a Seattle retail liquor store.

I knew I should be able to secure it close to home, because the spirit seems to be in most bars around town. Bartenders At Manhattan on 12th, Barrio on 12th, and Matt's in the Market at Pike Place Market, have all made the cocktail for me, having the Rittenhouse in stock, though needing my instruction. (A bartender at Cannon also made something like a Man About Town for me, but, he didn't have Rittenhouse and otherwise didn't seem that open to hearing my recipe.)

At home, I've been making do with a specialty rye recommended by a knowledgeable, helpful person at Esquin. That rye was fine. But, too many notes of vanilla and caramel, and way too sweet.

Rittenhouse is the right stuff. It's spicy and sharp, and holds the sweetness of the cynar and vermouth in balance.

Every winter, I get together with a group of former employes of Who's Calling, where I served as General Counsel for two or three years. We meet next week. These guys are in for a treat, as I got a whole bottle of Rittenhouse just to make Men About Town for them.

William Kentridge show at the Metropolitan Museum

Another good reason to go back to Manhattan soon: the Metropolitan Museum is reinstalling The Refusal of Time, a 30 minute, five screen, musical performance that Helen and I saw in a train station warehouse in Kassel, Germany as part of dOCUMENTA (13).

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This piece is really extraordinary.

Cornell women's basketball

I heard from an alumni mailing that the Cornell women's basketball team was playing in a tournament at Seattle University, so Helen and I walked over to watch.

11137241015_5097b78c1a_c

It was great fun! I think we will do it (walk over to SU to watch basketball) again. The competitiveness and athleticism is high, but you don't have all the commercial trappings of professional sports. It was way more fun to watch the college women's teams play than I recall the few Seattle Sonics games I went to, years ago, being.

Casablanca backup

On our way home from basketball, we walked by Central Cinema and wondered why so many people were gathered around the ticket counter.

11137445895_e8f6f2d266_cWhen we got home, we got a call from a couple we'd been thinking about and hoping to see. Turns out they had gone to Central Cinema to see Casablanca, but, the projector had broken, dashing their evening plans. So the crowd at the ticket counter, that was the process of doling out refunds.

They figured they would stop by and we figured we would make them consolation cocktails.

Into the second round of Men About Town, it occured to me, we could project Casablanca and watch it just as well at home. And so we did. We used a sheet draped over a curtain rod to make a screen probably seven and a half feet square. Looked great! 

52

I turned 52 yesterday. This post ends up summarizing how I spent the day. It was a great birthday.

Picture of The Refusal of Time as installed at dOCUMENTA (13): A-C-K / Flickr.

Car2Go

About a week ago, I signed up for the Car2Go service, and yesterday my member card showed up in the mail.

So last night Helen and I took one of the little cars for a ride.

6a01156e3d83cb970c01901e674768970bIt is surprisingly, pleasingly easy to snag a car and be off.

You figure out where they are through an app on your phone. A map pops up, showing you the locations of the nearest available cars. You put your thumb on the one you want to reserve, and then you have 30 minutes to go claim it.

Here's where the card comes in: you swipe it against a reader sitting on the car's dashboard on the driver side - swipe it even though the windshield is between you and the reader - and the system records that you've shown up and unlocks the car.

Inside, there are instructions to toggle through on a touchscreen, but not many. A prior user had left a Starbucks can inside, so I checked a box to say the interior was not in optimum condition.

Then we were off.

The engine doesn't have a lot of pickup, and the drive was sluggish. But high-performance locomotion is not the point, is it. The ride was still fun. Like taking a Vespa out.

6a01156e3d83cb970c01901e67479c970bHaving set out with no particular destination in mind, we dropped by the house of some friends unannounced. "What's the point," they said. "You still have to drive yourself." "True," I replied. "But I can see times and situations where you want your own wheels for a one-way trip."

We'll see!

Finding Jacques Tati's Europe

A couple times this vacation, I've felt like we've stumbled into a scene from the Jacques Tati masterpiece, "Playtime."

Finding Jacques Tati's Europe

The first time was in Kassel, when H and I went up a short alley to check out a cafe we spied at the end. Midway, a crew of young people seemed to be working at cross purposes to prepare a cavernous space for some sort of popup caberet or disco to be held later that day. As we retraced our steps to the mouth of the alley, a young man determined that a fifteen foot ladder should be removed, and he swung the ladder like a gate, serendipitously admitting a middle aged couple bearing a pizza box, and letting us out the other side. As we met the sidewalk on the perpendicular street, bicyclists and a pram whizzed by in opposite directions. The movements could hardly have been better choreographed.

Finding Jacques Tati's Europe

The second was midday today in Berlin, when we transitioned from the charming, Greenwich-village like Savignyplatz to the post-war, master-planned scale of Ernst-Reuter-Platz. Here it was not the pedestrian ballet that recalled Tati, but instead a comedy of autos, trucks and buses parading in a roundabout, set within an arrangement of post-war rectangular office towers. The three pictures in this post are of Ernst-Reuter-Platz.

Finding Jacques Tati's Europe

Hotel Social Network

Here's a concept I haven't before seen reduced to practice: a "social network" in which random occupants pull down shades both to identify with an assigned room and signify they have turned in.

Hotel Social Network

I suppose they are not following the Facebook or Google policy of announcing a "true" identity, but there is a kind of systemic authenticity here. How do observers from the street comment? They don't. They are like those who follow tweets by SMS but don't post to Twitter themselves.

The hotel is in the Mitte area of Berlin.

Reconstruction

Helen tells me that when she first started regularly visiting Berlin, a few years after the wall came down, all of the buildings formerly east of the wall looked like this one: muddy colored, stucco missing, pick-marked.

This one, at the corner of Zehdenicker and Choriner Strasßen, has obviously been deliberately "preserved" in a dilapidated state, at least as to its façade.

People here move so fluidly along the avenues and alleys, through plazas and around gardens. Coming from Seattle, it is hard not to be jealous of the surfeit, the abundance, the redundancy of public transit. There is a subway system; an elevated rail system; a street trolley system; a bus system. The society seems determined to enable mobility (literally).

Writing this from another corner in the Mitte area, also pictured. More from Germany später.

Reconstruction

Reconstruction

zwei Smartphones

On a train this morning, to Kassel via Giessen.

The two-count (zwei mal) smartphone strategy is working out. The strategy is mostly an acknowledgment that a single charged battery won't support a full day's hard use, though it is the case that each phone has specific advantages; I often run both at the same time.

Begrudgingly, I have to admit the iPhone is proving more continuously reliable than the Motorola handset. The latter is connecting to the universal subconsciousness (reporting to the Borg) only when I have wifi, which is just as well, as it is the better picture taker and faces heavier lifting (particularly now that I've discovered the panorama feature, which stitches the image files for you in camera, so to speak).

Prior trips, I've experimented with taking an iPad along, but that's a bust. You can't do a damn thing with it.

A laptop remains the general answer, unless you are taking a proper vacation and are trying to detach. For - and let's be candid - a laptop enlists your full attention. That is one of its productive virtues and one of its recreative dangers. Laptops are for business travel, spontaneous vacations with your brothers, and holidays to jumpstart the writing of your novel (neuen Roman schreiben Expeditionen).

Begrudging, with reference to the Apple product, because I've been reading the official Steve Jobs bio on planes and trains, resenting that someone so mean should be so lauded. But I'm getting to the point in the narrative where two decades of assholishness is about to pay off, in terms of seeding the world with devices like this phone, that set new standards for utility and connectedness. Somebody had to sacrifice for that, apparently.

zwei Smartphones

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