Sunday, April 29, 2007

Is This The Real Life?

No, I have never faked it. Orgasm, that is. If I don´t have one, then I don´t have one. Period, and no big drama. Faking it, in this case, just seems silly to me. Anyway, that´s not what I was actually going to ramble about, but hopefully, this caught your attention. Ok, I´ll start anew ...

Hey, I am a 26-year-old, naughty, curious blonde with long hair, I´m a 35C, 6 feet tall, I weigh 80 pounds, and I am bi(-curious).

Nah ... of course you know I´m a 40-something female with none of those ideal features (biiiig boobs, long, blonde hair, a body like this weeks´ playmates´, who can wear mini skirts without looking like a runner whose shorts have burst in the middle ...). Would it be different if I had a pic of that perfect blonde going with my profile? Accompanied, of course, by a different birthday date? Probably yes - the power of images is just overwhelming (that´s another story, in fact).

When I come across a profile with a pic which is just a tad too perfect, it usually flashes "FAKE!" all over. But apart from the pic, which might look too good to be true and hence inspire some distrust, the rest might be coming across as pretty much believable. And then I start to wonder how much of that cyber person is actually real, which in itself makes the encounter - well, interesting.

In cyber reality, we can be pretty much whatever and whoever we want. But somehow our personality is bound to creep in, one way or the other. Perhaps I lack the fantasy or the mental endurance for entering the online stage as a complete new and other self, constructing an entirely new reality around myself.

I am therefore amazed at (and in fact: admire) those who take the time and effort to do just that and submerse (or immerse) themselves completely within another world, like the Dungeons-and-Dragons players used to do, or perhaps nowadays the Second-Life inhabitants. Or some of the folks I have come across in the couple of weeks now that I have participated in Yahoo 360. In some profiles, fantasy takes on a very literal form, in that mythic elements, elfs, fairies, witches or simply the "dark side" are a prominent feature, both in terms of the design of their pages, and in terms of what and how topics are covered in the respective blogs. What a fantastic way to live out ones secret desires. Or to simply escape from (a perhaps bland) reality.

On a slightly different vein, when reading erotic blogs (aka sex stories), I sometimes wonder if what is described is actually an account of the author´s experience, pure fantasy, or a mixture of both. Now, some blogs declare that what you encounter is purely fictitious, others may leave it up to the reader to decide, and still others give themselves a decidedly realistic touch.

On one occasion my sweetheart declared, not without a certain amount of frustration (and sounding at least a little jealous), "Hey, when reading some of those stories, I think to myself, Gosh! What a great sex life some people have! The things they are doing, and the places they are doing it!" (Hey! Do you mean to tell me that our sex life is sooo terribly dull, just because we don´t have sex on the bus or in the elevator - well we very nearly did, we actually started that the other night, so ...!) That´s in fact the only occasion where I got a little annoyed at this "fantasy-or-reality?" teasing spiel, because it made our (not-so-bad!!! *frown*) sex life look like a boring bag of old wine.

Are my own erotic stories real? I deliberately declare them as fantasies. However, some of them actually happened, some of them have happened in part, with some details added (that is, made up), and some of them will probably never ever happen. But somehow, they are all part of myself, even if its just some bogus story bred by some darker (or lighter) streak of my mind.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

On this day ...

... seventy years ago - April 26, 1937 -, German soldiers of the "Legion Condor" bombed the small Spanish town of Guernica. It was the Nazi Reichsluftwaffe´s first military strike abroad, and the first air raid on an extensive civil area in military history, completely destroying the center of Guernica, plastering the town with a deadly carpet of incendiary bombs, grenades, and shots fired from aircraft weapons upon the fleeing men, women and children.

To this day, it remains unclear how many casualties this air raid caused. At the time of the attack, many refugees from the Spanish Civil War had fled to Guernica. The highest estimate is around 2000 casualties, while according to other sources around 300 people were killed - burnt, torn to pieces, or shot.

The account of an eye witness, whose estimate of casualties ranges closer to 2000, captures the horror which statistics just won´t adequately describe:

I had arrived in Bilbao on April 24 and on the next day had gone to Mass with the Foreign Secretary and his family, spending the rest of the day in his office. The morning of the 26th I spent quietly at the office of Asistencia Social, discussing in outline the plans for evacuation. In the afternoon I made my way down to La Prensa where a group of journalists had invited me for a drink, among them Philip Jordan and George Steer, who during the next few weeks were to prove towers of strength and encouragement to me. A day begun so quietly was to end in indescribable horror and dismay.
"A raid's coming up," said Jordan. "Do you want to go down to the shelter?" I shook my head, so we went outside. Phil's ear had caught the sound of bombers in the air, although there had been no warning. Across the hills to the east the air was alive with Heinkels as wave after wave drove in from the sea. They were followed by Junkers. Horror-striken, the Basques amongst us shouted, "Guernica! they're bombing Guernica!" It seemed incredible that such a monstrous thing could happen to this quiet little market town, renowned from time immemorial as the home of Basque liberation where, before the famous oak tree, rulers of Spain had traditionally sworn to observe Basque local rights. Helpless to do anything we watched from the hills. Until nearly eight in the evening, incendiary bombs and high explosives rained down every twenty minutes. The town was open and defenceless; it was crowded with market day visitors and as people fled from the destruction they were dive-bombed and machine-gunned from the air. The roads out of the town were jammed with dead and injured: 1,654 killed; 889 injured.
(From the autobiography of Leah Manning, A Life For Education)

Here you can find more on the bombing of Guernica. And, of course, on Wikipedia.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Carnations ... And A Song

Carnations and a song are the watermarks of the Portuguese "Carnations Revolution", which on April 25, 1974, ended Europe´s longest standing dictatorship.

On May 28, 1926, a military junta had taken over through a military coup and implemented an authoritarian regime of fascist inspiration. In 1933, Oliveira Salazar came to control the country (he was to stay in power for over half a century, until 1968), and the regime renamed itself Estado Novo ("New State") - a name which remained until the "Carnations Revolution".

The regime of Marcello Caetano, who succeeded Oliveira Salazar in 1968, successfully annihilated all attempts of political reform. Torture, repression and censorship of the press were trademarks of the Estado Novo, and independent trade unions were prohibited. The military secret police persecuted opponents of the regime, and although there were formal elections, both the opposition and foreigh observers accused the government of electoral fraud and Caetano of not being impartial.

In addition, the regime was determined to keeep Portugal´s colonies beyond the 1960s despite growing independence movements, and against the pressure from the United Nations, because the maintenance of a colonial empire was part and parcel of the Estado Novo´s ideologues historical vision.

The necessity to spend huge amounts of money for war in Africa in order to maintain the colonial status against increasing resistance (which cost the Portuguese state almost 40% of its annual budget), as well as the Estado Novo´s economic policy of Corporatism contributed significantly to the impoverishment of the Portuguese economy.

On April 25, 1974, parts of the military uprose against the regime. On April 24, 1974 at 10:50 p.m. local time, the Portuguese radio played the love song "E depois do adeus" ("After the farewell") by Paulo de Carvalho, which was the secret sign for the insurgent troops.

However, the song which really came to be associated with the revolution was "Grândola, Vila Morena" ("Grândola, tanned city"), which had been banned by the regime. On April 25, 1974 at about 0:30 a.m. local time, the radio host of the catholic radio read the first verse of "Grândola". This was followed by the song sung by antifascist songwriter Zeca Afonso. This was a clear sign for the Portugues population - although at that point they had no idea what for.

For the insurgent military units the verses were the sign for the begin of the armed uprising. 18 hours later, the Movimento das Forças Armadas (Movement of the Armed Forces) had overthrown Europe´s oldest dictatorship. The revolution had been almost without bloodshed, save for 13 casualties, caused by troops who remained loyal to the regime and shot upon unarmed demonstrators.

Overjoyed Portugese population adorned the guns of the insurgent troops with carnations, and one of the most famous images from the "Carnation Revolution" was that of a waitress sticking a carnation into a soldier´s gun barrel. That´s how carnations became the symbol and eponym for the Portuguese Revolution.

Happy birthday, Portugal!

An extensive documentation in English is provided by the Universidade de Coimbra´s Centro de Documentação 25 de Abril.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

April 19, 1943 - Or: Why It´s Important Not To Forget

(Jewish resistance fighters captured by SS troops during the Warsaw ghetto uprising. Warsaw, Poland)

Today marks the 67th anniversary of the beginning of the final stages of the Uprising of the Warsaw Ghetto, which eventually ended with the liquidation of the ghetto on May 16, 1943, at which point the remaining 56,000 Jews where sent to extermination camps (the remainder, some 300,000+ Jewish inhabitants of the Ghetto, had been sent to extermination camps - which in most cases meant certain death - by the end of 1942). You find a very good, dense summary, plus a link to a more in-depth account, at this blog.

Many, especially young, Germans question the necessity of being constantly reminded of the Nazi past of our history. While I reject the notion that younger generations carry some sort of "guilt" for what our forefathers did (or, in not resisting, did not), I do believe - no: I know that it is important that we are aware of our history and do not act as if it had nothing to do with us, lest we forget.

Case in point: The recent case of historical-political amnesia by conservative Governor of Baden-Wurttemberg, Guenther Oettinger. On April 11, he held a eulogy for the late Hans Filbinger, deceased on April 1, 2007. Filbinger had served as a naval judge from the spring of 1943 to the end of the war. During that time, he was involved in about 230 naval criminal proceedings, in six of which the death sentence was part of the proceedings.

At least in one case, the death sentence proclaimed with Filbinger´s involvement (in that case, he was acting as witness of the prosecution, assembling the death squad, and gave the order to fire) was executed on March 16, 1945 - three weeks before the capitulation - or liberation - of Germany. In this case - as in several others - Filbinger would have had several options open to avoid imposing the death sentence and the execution of 21 year old naval soldier Walter Groeger, who was accused of desertion.

Filbinger had been governor of Baden Wurttemberg from 1966 until he was caught up by his Nazi past and was forced to resign from office in 1978. In his eulogy, Oettinger - perhaps in a false understanding of the concept of "De mortui nil nisi bene" - twisted the historical facts, algidly alleging that Filbinger had been an opponent of the Nazi regime. (Yes, and so was the entire German populace at that time, with the possible exception of Hitler and a few other leading heads themselves ...).

When coming under pressure from various associations (from the most prominent one, the German Central Consistory of Jews, to the association of victims of the Nazi judicial system), Oettinger at first flat out refused to withdraw the claim that Filbinger had been an opponent of the Nazi regime. And he had several supporters amongst the lines of conservatives, among them the head of the JU (the Young Conservatives), Steffen Bilger, who applauded Oettinger for his "liberating" remarks and for "straightening several things out" (I wonder what that was supposed to mean ...).

Oettinger eventually did have to give in and had to withdraw his remarks on Monday, April 16, 2007, after the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, practically forced him to do so, although he probably will not have to resign as a governor. Thankfully, there are some mechanisms and organizations in this country that help to prevent a sugarcoated picture of our history from becoming mainstream, at least for the time being. Which is why it is important for all of us not to forget.

A short account in English on the fallouts of Oettinger´s eulogy by the Washington Post from Saturday, April 14 (i.e., before Oettinger had to distance himself from his remarks) can be found here. A more detailed account and a chronology in German is published there.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Relationships Without Sex

Sexless relationships are a phenomenon to me! I know quite a few of them myself (though our own, thankfully, is not one of them), and I cannot help wondering how these relationships work at all, and - why one of the partners simply does not want sex.

It seems to be mainly women who at some point decide that they don´t want it anymore, at least not with their partners (though occasionally you´ll find a woman who "wants" and whose partner doesn´t want to - at least not with her).

And I wonder, and I hope you guys and girls out there can help me: Why is it that so many women do not want sex?

Of course, there may be a variety of reasons for this. Traumatic experiences (like having been abused in childhood, or having been raped) may be one cause, and perhaps one the partner does not even know about.

Stress may be another factor - I remember going through a no-sex-please-phase at a time when my job was particularly stressful. At least I think that was the reason I wasn´t to keen on sex - it simply was not on my agenda. I´d come home and be just tired, wanting to go to sleep (probably after having a couple of beers or a few glasses of wine), cuddle up next to my sweetheart, feeling him close to me - but, please, no sex!

Perhaps many women are just not enjoying the sex they are having and are finding themselves unable to articulate this. (Maybe they would like to be touched differently, maybe there is not enough foreplay, maybe there is too much pressure to "fulfill" and have an orgasm, maybe they´ve never had an orgasm ...)

And, of course, there may always be physical reasons that cause sex to be outright painful. Not to forget that the pill may act as a veritable lust killer (yes, it even says so in the package insert!).

Does the same happen in same sex relationships?

If you are in a sexless relationship, how do you deal with it if you are the one who still loves to have sex?

If you are the partner who doesn´t want sex: Why don´t you want it (anymore)? Do you not have sex at all, or are you just not feeling like having sex with your partner?

Have you guys ever tried to talk about this and find out why your women are not interested anymore? Are you as a couple able to talk about sex in your relationship, your fantasies and wishes, or is it a taboo ?

If you have any ideas, suggestions, assumptions or experiences concerning the above, please post them here. Cheers!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Let´s Get Visual (DNA)

Pretty cool ... My sweetheart (who´s the creative mind of the both of us) came across this last night. I love the Internet! And him even more ;)

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Keyword (And Other Network) Advertising

Keyword advertising is a pretty cool invention. In theory, the underlying idea is very good and seems to make sense: you have a website covering a variety of topics, e.g. Yahoo! Finance or Google News. Whenever a user accesses a broader topic or a specific article of interest - say, you´re reading an article dealing with the delay of Leopard, the new version of Apple Inc.´s operating system -, an advertisement corresponding to that topic - e.g. an ad for Apple´s brand new iPhone (and incidentally one of the reasons why Leopard doesn´t make it into the stores now until fall) - is displayed. Or, you´re researching news on why European car sales a slowing, and you´re receiving an ad for the brand new Audi. The logical assumption is, of course, that you´re likely receptive for ads corresponding to news/articles on topics you´ve actively been looking for, promising greater success for the advertiser, who, in turn, will spend more money advertising on promising looking sites.

So the advertiser is happy, and the site being advertised on is, too (not to mention you, the happy user, because you receive ads tailored to your interests). The same holds true wether the website is Google, Yahoo!, or the site of a stray blogger trying to make a few extra bucks (or pennies) by allowing an advertising network to run their ads on their site. So much for the theory, which, as always, looks plausible enough.

Unfortunately, however, life is neither simple nor perfect, so in practice, things frequently tend to not work out quite as intended, and when it comes to keyword advertising, the results may be funny, annoying or outright bad taste.

Funny: Today, I visited this blog which the other day had an entry on atheism in which the author makes it very clear that she choses not to believe in religion or any higher beings, and that being belittled, not being taken serious or being otherwise hassled for this is - to put it politely - slightly annoying. Also, any attempts to try and convert her are not particularly appreciated. This morning (Central European Summer Time), I found an advertisement pointing to this site. How cool! There´s a post on atheism, and in response, the advertising network is trying to redirect and save you and your readers. Probably that´s a sign!
(N.B.: When I came back to the blog later, the above advertisement was no longer there; instead, there were two more appropriate ads, both by atheist forums or networks.)

Annoying: A couple of years ago, my boyfriend and a friend of his ran a website with a fair amount of traffic. They were members of an advertising network which rotated banners between different sites. One day during the bombings of former Yugoslavia in 1999, they had changed the homepage to include a peace message, calling upon all warring parties (i.e., the Serbians, the UCK, and the NATO states) involved in Kosovo and the former Yugoslavian republic to immediately refrain from all acts of aggression. Sure enough, on the very same homepage, next to the peace-banner, the advertising network in its infinite wisdom had placed an advertising banner promoting the German Army, which at that point was among those parties "involved" in former Yugoslavia. (After my boyfriend and his partner exchanged a couple of unfriendly comments with their contact person at the advertising network, it was agreed upon that both sides would be happier if their website would no longer be included in the ad network. Well, my boyfriend and his partner certainly did better without the network.)

Bad Taste: But the worst example of failed keyword advertising, or - worse - perhaps just plain thoughtless network advertising, I have come across so far was on a newssite covering the tsunami which hit the coastal shores of Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India and Thailand (among others, though the four countries named were the worst hit), on December 26, 2004, killing well over 200,000 people and leaving countless others homeless, probably for years to come. The article dealt with the death toll (then at well over 100,000), and with the fact that survivors in the region did not have access to the basics they needed to stay alive, such as shelter, food and clean drinking water. The ad next to the article, which promoted a hotel rewards program, displayed a palm-lined beach scene, very likely resembling what you´d have encountered in the region before the tsunami struck.

It´s fine to automate processes such as banner placement in a network. And yes, it would be too much effort to screen everything manually. But is it asking too much to perhaps refrain from advertising under certain circumstances? (In the immediate wake of September 11, we were watching CNN. And if I remember correctly, reporting on the tragic events was not interrupted by cheerful ads, especially not ones promoting air travel. At least for a couple of days.) Because, no matter what ad would have been placed next to that article, it would have been somehow inappropriate. Except for ads promoting donations, and/or aid for the regions affected.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Why Do Men Never Go And See A Doctor?

Men just don´t go to see a doctor. Not, that is, unless they are forced to by either a partner dragging them off by force (needless to say, that only happens when they are in bad enough shape so that they are not able to put up any resistance at that time), or by an ambulance carting them off with sirens and flashing blue lights (at which point they´re not very likely to be in a position to argue, either). But why? Why this irresistable drive do defy reason, why this tendency to try fate? This will always remain one of life´s bigger mysteries to me!

Actually, perhaps it´s not just men, but in my experience, surroundings and (very likely biased) view it´s mostly men. Perhaps it´s something ingrained in their brain stem telling them to never make themselves dependent on anybody else, nor to ever admit on weakness (you know that old cliché of "boys don´t cry" ...), nor to ever throw themselves at the mercy of others (especially not other men ... or, come to think of it, women), and hence not to go see a doc under any circumstances, at least not as long as they can help it.

Unless, of course, they belong to that other extreme, the hypochondriac type, who will immediately diagnose an upset stomach (very likely caused by too much booze and/or greasy food the night before) as terminal cancer. But that´s another story and one I will not elaborate on. For now.

My boyfriend, his dad, and my dad belong to the first group, the I-don´t-need-a-doc because
a) there´s nothing wrong with me, really; and/or
b) I know what´s wrong, and there´s absolutely nothing a doc can do about it; and/or

My father tried to cure a heart-attack with a bottle of cold beer (ok, he´s Bavarian; but still ...). It happened while he and my mom where vacationing in the Mediterranean. My mom had gone for the morning to play tennis, my father was in the tent reading (and presumably smoking a cigarillo), when he suddenly felt like he was suffocating. At which point he decided to go - no, not to get help, but to get a bottle of beer instead. A camp ground neighbour, who knew my parents fairly well, dropped by by sheer coincidence. Seeing my father almost blue in the face, he asked if he could get any help. My father, apparently, reacted very unfriendly, in the end shouting at his neighbour, basically telling him to piss off. "Leave me alone, I don´t need a doctor!"

Of course, once my mom returned from the tennis ground and saw the state my dad was in, she immediately called an ambulance, they took him to hospital, and there he stayed for almost a week or so, until he could be transferred to a hospital back home. Apparently, my dad still didn´t realize that what had struck him was not something harmless like a cold or a flu. When back home he was asked upon admission to the local hospital wether he wanted treatment by a chief physician (which would have been covered by his health insurance), he flat out refused, explaining to me later "It´s just so expensive." Expensive? Hello? Dad? You just suffered a heart-attack. Plus, your insurance is going to pay for the treatment anyway. Ahem, surely you would be interested to get the best possible treatment, especially considering that you´re - excuse me - in your late 60s, and - excuse me again - not in the best possible shape. Well, in the end, he didn´t get the best possible treatment, was released too early and without anyone telling him what further to do about this whole thing (at least that was his story), and ended up in a mess that was a lot bigger and worse, and which he could - perhaps - have avoided by taking the whole thing a little more seriously.

Anyway, one and a half years later, he´s fine, complete with a new heart valve, a pace maker and a device which is something like an internal defibrillator.

My boyfriend´s father is a similar sweetheart. He ended up in hospital with everyone thinking it was a heart attack, because he suffered all the symptoms: Tightness in the chest, problems breathing, and an extremely high blood pressure. Much to everyone´s - including the doctors´- surprise, he has the heart of a healthily raging bull. All the tests he underwent were more than ok for a man his age (he´s also in his late 60s). The only possible culprit: His thyroid, which is way too large, causing it to not only at times raise his blood pressure, but also at times to push on his heart muscle, which in turn causes some of the symptoms strikingly resembling a heart attack.

There would be a fairly easy cure to it, he wouldn´t even have to undergo surgery. All he´d have to do is go to a hospital offering nuclear medicine (there happens to be one in the city where we live). He´d have to swallow a pill which in turn sets free raidiation (because of that, he´d have to be quarantined for 10 days, if I remember correctly), which causes the thyroid to shrink to a normal dimension. A friend´s father, who at that time was 80 year old, underwent that same treatement and was fitter than ever afterwards. (He´d been suffering the same symptoms as my boyfriend´s father.)

Unfortunately for everyone involved, the docs in my boyfriend´s father´s (ooof, what a chain of genitives!) hospital never suggested that he might have his enlarged thyroid treated, so he thinks it´s basically superfluous. Plus, he is convinced that there really isn´t anything he can do about it (we´ve tried to tell him until we were almost black and blue in the face, but he just doesn´t seem to hear what we´re saying.) And so, as long as he´s fine, he simply won´t do anything about it. Period.

And now my sweetheart. A couple of years ago, he had a herniated disc, which at first he self-diagnosed as lumbago after consulting the internet. His conclusion at that time: There´s nothing a doc can do about it, therefore there´s no need to go and see one. For three days he couldn´t move, he was hardly able to leave the bed, and he was in agony with back pain. Whenever I´d mention the "D"-word, he´d yell at me and become really irritable, eventually pissing me off, just a tiny little bit. When during the night from day three to day four he experienced the first signs of paralysis in his right lower leg, I asked again, "Listen, don´t you want to go see a doc now?" Between clenched teeth, he snapped back at me "That´s a little difficult for me to do right now - go and see a doc - since I can´t really walk at this point!" "Well, I´d be driving you, of course," I replied, but, as always, I left it at that.

The next day, he did call a specialist for treating all kinds of back ailments. First, they told him that he´d have to wait for about two weeks, because their schedule was so full. I told him to tell them that he didn´t feel his right lower leg and foot anymore, which he did, and - tata! - in an instant, he had a date with the doc. Driving there must have been pure torture for my poor sweetheart, since our car was parked in the middle of a cobblestone road.

So, it turned out it wasn´t a lumbago, but the more dramatic case of a herniated disc. Though in the end, the doctors really didn´t do that much, at least it was clear that my sweetheart didn´t have to undergo surgery. They offered him at least some pain killer (with an anti inflammatory component). He went to physiotherapy, learnt what to do to strengthen his back, and has been more or less fine ever since.

Like my dad and like his own dad, my boyfriend could have spared himself - and, as an aside, myself - some suffering, so you´d think next time around, even if it came with a different setting of suffering (i.e., severe pain in other parts of the body), they´d more readily accept some professional help. But, lo and behold - something seems to be stronger than reason. It defies logic, but as said, I suspect it must have something to do with some primary instinct.

Good thing we women are different! Or at least governed by less potentially fatal primary instincts.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Shoes, Boobs and Bras

Having recently reanimated this blog, I waded through my old posts from one and a half years ago (they were in German at that time). And not without a certain amount of amusement, I re-read the comments of two stray (and entirely unexpected) readers, who were musing about if I was a guy or a girl. This, as an aside, happens to me in real life as well - especially when I am running; yes, I do look like a boy, having short hair, being fairly small and slender (hey, I´m a runner!), and perhaps because I am a little devoid of some of the more prominent primary sexual characteristics (i.e., I don´t have the largest of all boobs). It happened to me one and a half years ago at the Berlin marathon, when one spectator upon seeing my BIB with the clearly visible F (for "Female") printed in front of the number, exclaimed in amazement "Hey, that´s a woman?!" And it happened to me last week at a local race, when - as I was making my way towards the finish line - a spectator exclaimed, "Hey, that´s the ninth woman - or is that a woman?"

On the other hand, I do have fairly beefy legs, so I don´t feel really comfortable wearing mini skirts. At least I always feel weird and very self conscious, so I usually prefer wearing shorts. (By now you could have told I´m a woman, right?)

However, the reason those two stray readers were pondering the thrilling questions of what sex I really belong to was not because of what they´d seen of me (at that time, there was no photo of myself included in my blog´s profile), but they were wondering because of my style of writing and because of my choice of topics. I probably didn´t really sound like a man, but on the other hand, writing about trading puts and calls, about situps, pushups (no, not bras - that´ll follow later), running and sex (although the latter, to my experience now, is a topic covered frequently, if not mainly, by women, judging by the frequency of erotic blogs run by fellow members of my sex), and the way I mused about life in general apparently did not sound particularly feminine either. One of my stray readers thought it was most likely that I was a homosexual man, although not one to display a very feminine behaviour, either.

So, when I´d finally outed myself, I was asking what topics were more typical for women, according to their opinion.
The answer, surprise surprise, was "shoes", "bras" and "children".

Ok, so for once, I´ll try to write about the things considered more appropriate for females. Having already touched upon the sensitive subject of my primary sexual features (boobs!), or rather, the lack thereof, I´ll resume at that point. Because, come to think of it, boobs/tits/breasts are probably at least as much of a topic for women as bras. The longer I think about it, in fact, the more important, not to mention sensitive this issue actually is.

Tits for women are either too small or too huge, but they are never right. As an exchange student in Canada, I had a roommate whose breasts had gone from an A cup size to a C cup size after she went on the pill. In my view, her breasts were wonderful (though I never told her; too bad! I was far too shy for that back then), and I´m sure here boyfriend greatly appreciated them, too. She, however, was suffering, seemingly at least. But then, come to think of it, she had probably been suffering as much when her breasts were several cup sizes smaller, because then, she surely found them way too small, in comparison with other girls her age. Oh, why can´t they be just right, ever? *Sigh*

My own tits, as I have mentioned, are decidedly on the small side. Which doesn´t bother me too much, in general, because
a) it´s practical not having to wear a bra all the time;
b) when running, I don´t have to carry that additional weight and burden around with me (I remember once before the Berlin Marathon, I was watching a group of fellow runners, and among them was one woman with incredibly huge breasts. I thought to myself "Geez! Imagine having to carry that around on your 42km race - no way!");
c) now that I am getting older, they aren´t hanging down to my belly button, simply because they are too small to be hanging down very far;
d) they don´t get in the way when hugging or having sex - I can get really close to my sweetheart, without something supersized standing (or rather: hanging) between us.

So, all in all, I´m fairly happy with my AA-cup breasts. At least I´m trying to convince myself of this, although my boyfriend would surely tell you otherwise - hey, just because I like to occasionally kid about my oh-so-tiny-far-too-small ... no, only kidding again; I´m happy with them, ok?!?

No, seriously, the only thing I really regret from time to time is that they are too small for certain sexual ventures (no, I won´t elaborate on them here - use your imagination; or go visit my other blog, but only if you´re comfortable with adult content!!!).

Now, as I said, I really don´t have to bother with bras. Normally. However, a couple of years back, my sweetheart and I spent Christmas in Beirut (a wonderful city, just as an aside!). For some reason, whatever T-shirt I was wearing, my nipples kept perking through. Although Beirut is a very laid back and open minded place, we were still very aware that we were in a Middle Eastern country, and especially my partner didn´t feel to comfy walking around with a woman with her nipples provocatingly visible. That´s how I got to buy my first real bra (apart from tube bras, which I´d on occasion worn before, but they couldn´t prevent my nipples from being clearly visible, either) - at the tender age of 38. It was stuffed, and it was a push up. And it made me look as if I suddenly had tits. Quite an experience! When my sweetheart first saw me in it, he was quite impressed. But it also led to some sort of disillusionment on his behalf. "Wow! Well, I guess from now on, I won´t quite believe whatever I see, chances are it´s all fake, anyway," or somehow along these lines his comment went.

Back to the bra. Because of its lining, it didn´t feel too uncomfortable at all. Which, not too long ago, brought me to consider buying some more. No, not necessarily push-up bras, just the lacey sort, you know, for a little teasing, and perhaps for shooting some erotic photographs. That kind of thing. So - one rainy Sunday afternoon, I looked for lacey bras on eBay, because I had no intention of spending a lot of money - hey, they are not that important to me!). I found a couple of them that looked like they were just what I´d been looking for, and I placed bids on three of them, thinking I´d be lucky to even get one for the price I deemed acceptable (which was not more than 10 EUR, including postage).

Now, here´s another advantage when you´re fairly small, or, in that case, when your tits are fairly small: There just aren´t too many bidders on eBay (which, of course, can be a disadvantage when you´re trying to sell stuff your size ...). Needless to say, I was the highest bidder on all three of them, so I ended up with three more or less lacey bras, in red, blue, and black. And they are all underwire bras. And, of course, two of them are push-up bras, and one of them is padded - HAHAHA!

So - I only wear them for a few select moments. Because, as I have come to discover, the underwire can be really painful. I don´t know who designs these things, but I am almost certain that it´s either a man, or someone never ever wearing these things him/herself, or both. Because I find that when I am wearing an underwire bra for more than a couple of hours, the underwire starts to pinch into the bony part of my sternum in a very uncomfortable fashion. Let alone when I am lying on my belly on the futon, the notebook in front of me, as I like to do frequently.

And, of course, the fit is less than perfect. Although all three of them are supposedly the same size, the red one has quite a bit of spare room, which looks a little silly with the lace standing there on its own, the breast not quite filling it, while the blue bra is almost too small. The black (and padded) one, however, is the "Goldilocks-bra": Not too big, not too small, but just right. In other words: Unlike a woman´s breasts can ever be to a woman.

I´ll leave it to someone else to write about shoes. At least for now.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Hurray - It´s Dult Time!

It´s Easter weekend. Which invariably and inevitably means: The centuries old tradition of the Oster Dult is starting today. The Dult is a kind of outdoor shopping mall where you can buy all sort of mostly useless, overpriced bric-a-brac, not to mention stuff your face all day long with bratwurst, candyfloss, cake, waffles, Magenbrot (a special variation of gingerbread), and other high-caloric food. The tradition of this fair, which takes place twice a year (in fall and in springtime), dates back to the year of 967, although the Easter Dult is first mentioned in 1276.

Frictions with the residents happening to live nearby (or right in the middle of it, as we do) is inevitable, you can safely place bets on it. Nowadays, for the residents it mostly means trouble to find a place to park your car (if you´re not fortunate enough to have a garage nearby, which most people don´t). If you are fortunate enough to have a garage, it still means a lot of hassle to manoever your car through the crowds of (country) folks herding through the stands, blocking the way, moving slowly (if at all), and reacting even slower. It means halfway blocked entrances to your home. Oh, and if you were unfortunate enough to have your car parked on the Tuesday or Wednesday before the Dult started, you may have woken up and found out that your car has been towed. Though there have been "No parking" signs placed indicating early (a week in advance) that parking would not be allowed from Tuesday, no hint had been given that your car would be towed (in fact, the "No parking" sign was not a "Do not halt under any circumstance!"-sign - yes, there are two different signs for this in this country). This most likely did not happen to you as a resident with years of Dult-experience, but it might have happened to you if you just moved in and have so far been unaware of the Dult-tradition. Or if you were one of those unlucky out-of-towners, pleased to have so easily (unusual for a place that close to the city center, and right opposite to the shopping mall in our city) found a place to temporarily park your car. I almost felt sorry for those unlucky geezers from LL or GZ ; but only almost, as they would have blocked the residents parking area under normal circumstances ... (Plus chances are that the latter were probably going to be among the very country people that are going to drive me nuts by their sheer presence for the coming two weeks - perhaps they won´t now *hehehe*).

So what!, you might be thinking, as long as it mostly bothers the car owners and drivers, and some stupid out-of-towners, what´s so bad about having a fair at your doorsteps (literally!). Lo and behold, the bothersome experience does not stop there. For you as a resident it means having to endure a smell mixture of bratwurst, likorice, fried almonds and fried onions, occasionally topped by the fragrance of some orange-spice detergent (which is one of those articles which are apparently only available at the Dult - see below), so if you are among the lucky ones owning a balcony, or if you happen to feel the urge to open a window for some fresh air, you are invariably confronted with the above exhausts. Oh, and if you feel the urge to leave your house for a quick dash wherever, your way is blocked by the above herds, moving v-e-r-y sss-lll-ooo-www-lll-yyy (in fact, maddeningly so, making your blood pressure jump up in an instant), until you´ve finally managed to sidle your way across the street, over the bridge, where you will finally be able to at least make some headway and start walking at a halfway normal speed. And perhaps you don´t care for those masses of (to a major degree obese) country folk, who at 10 a.m. on a Sunday morning - presumably having had breakfast not too long ago - stuff their faces with giant, fat dripping bosna sausages just below your window. No, this is not a sight for the faint hearted!

Oompah-oompah-oompahpah! The sound is bound to wake you up, if not make you fall you out of bed. If you happen to be at your home on the Saturday before Easter, when the Dult is officially inaugurated by the mayor of A., you will have the dubious pleasure of being unvoluntarily treated to seemingly never ending round of traditional German Blasmusik (translation: music for brass instruments) by a traditional Spielmannszug (translation: brass band) intonating traditional German Marschmusik (... I don´t have to translate this, do I?), jawoll! This, of course, is worst when you are really hung over from the Friday night before, and you awake with your head pounding in unison with the stomping noise of the drums (however, since the Friday before Easter invariably is Good Friday, which means no loud music and dancing in any bar, making it an especially dull and boring evening, chances are you won´t be affected by really bad hangover symptoms for the start of the Easter Dult ).

The stand keepers, on the other hand, are invariably pissed off at residents who apply some sort of guerilla tactic against their foes, such as dropping burning cigarettes on the canvas covers of their stands from the balconies above. And they have developed a particular hatred for one lawyer residing somewhere down the street, who with every Dult makes sure the fire department checks - "With their biggest fire truck, I swear!" - that not a single stand exceeds the allocated space by one inch, possibly hindering an emergency deployment, should a major fire storm break out (perhaps due to a burning cigarette hitting the canvas of a Dult stand?). And, of course, they are constantly mad at the city for charging such exuberant fees to set up their stands. Or at the residents daring to use their cars, venturing through the crowds, spoiling the atmosphere and hindering business in the process. Or at the residents who never spend money at their stands ("Hey! Some of them have been walking past my stand for the past five years, without ever buying a single thing!" Hmmm ... wonder why ...!). Have I mentioned that the relationship between stand keepers and residents is a particularly hearty one ...?

During the past years, for me the Dult has, hence, increasingly meant to resort to the use of the back door, foregoing the convenience of using the shopping mall just across the street, and taking the way to the more distant supermarkets (which, admittedly, does have its advantages - such as escaping the very country crowds which also happen to make up the majority of visitors of the shopping mall; on Saturdays, anyway). But it´s not only the throngs of visitors I am seeking to avoid by this escape-and-run (or at least: escape-and-walk-at-my-usual-fast- stride) strategy; increasingly, it´s also the stand keepers right around our entrance, who happen to be the same, year after year. It´s not that the´re unfriendly - just the opposite: Whenever I arrive from my shopping ventures, fully packed, the friendly guys selling vacuum cleaner accessories always helpfully offer to open the door for me. Because we - being open-minded, friendly people - have not been among those residents treating them with disgust, but ususally greeting them with a friendly smile, every now and then engaging in some sort of conversation, we have developed some sort of companionship, and frequently they love to start a heavy round of small-talk whenever they are idle (i.e. devoid of customers), which, unfortunately, happens as sure as hell when we are time-pressed and/or not in the mood for a lengthier conversation about how bad the residents are, how much they are paying to set up their stands, how little they are earning in return, how bad the weather is (it is always too cold at Easter, and always too warm in fall) - in short, how miserable life is.

So, you wonder, isn´t there anyone happy about this tradition? Well, I guess, there must be. Some people we have spoken to, wondering where the appeal of Dult lies, are swearing that there are things that you can only buy at the Dult. Such as 5 pairs of tube socks at a real bargain price (5 EUR). Or that orange-spice wonder detergent that gets rid even of the most persistent stains. Or the magic device which in only an instant solves the problem of a congested drain - without chemicals, just some sort of magic contraction of pressure! Or the wonder, unscratchable, never-burn-food frying pan. Or the nylon apron, which seems to be a favourite garment for the typical country housewife when going about her daily chores. Or the set of ever sharp kitchen-knives. Not to mention the Belgian pralinés just around the corner. Or the mountain cheese, sold at under 10 EUR per kg (okok, the price really isn´t bad, and the cheese is actually pretty good!). And - you can go and spend money on a Sunday, relax in the sun, enjoy the typical German (and Swabian) fare, making the entire family happy: Mom by buying the wonder kitchen utensils, dad by treating him to a round of early morning beer and bratwurst, and little Jo and Ann by giving in to their desire for plastic toys and a round of candy treats.

I´m glad there actually are some people who do derive some sort of satisfaction, so the suffering of residents and stand keepers and all the others (yes, you, whose car has been towed!) is not entirely in vain. Suffering for some deeper purpose - how suitable for the season! Well, then: Happy Easter! :)