journal.wiredreflexes.com Jack the sound barrier. Bring the noise.

14Mar/170

Enumerator as a List: A Linq Reminder

Just another reminder to myself.

Enum.GetValues(typeof(SomeEnum))
    .Cast<SomeEnum>();
14Mar/170

Berlin

This weekend Joasia and I went to Berlin together. Or rather, she was already in Berlin for work and I joined her there. Initially, I was going to fly over on Friday, but due to a sudden strike at Berlin Tegel airport on Friday, my flight was cancelled. After a quick call to KLM and some arrangements at work, I decided to fly out on Thursday night instead, in just before the strike. We stayed at the Quentin design hotel, close to Nollendorfplatz, which is considered a gay neighbourhood. The hotel was fine, the neighbourhood fairly quiet and it had great accessibility to the rest of the city.

I really enjoyed the city. It's large without being overwhelming. It's dense without being claustrophobic. It's friendly and warm without being disingenuous.

On Friday we did most of the touristy sight seeing. We saw the Brandenburger Tor, the Reichstag (where we made a reservation to go in on Sunday morning) and the Roma und Sinti Denkmal, the latter of which was quite sober but powerful. I also started to notice my annoyance at people taking smiling selfies at this sight of remembrance which annoyed me. I was reminded of a brilliant project by an artist called Yolocaust, which showed people's selfies at the Denkmal für die ermordeten Juden Europas transposed with the photos of the results of the holocaust.

I was a bit afraid what would happen when I would get to the Denkmal für die ermordeten Juden Europas, but surprisingly it wasn't so bad. Sure there were people who didn't obey the rules (no running, no loud talking, no climbing the stele, etc.) but most of the transgressors were children, which could easily be forgiven. The site has gravitas and the stele are eerie. It's powerful without being graphic. We found our way downstairs to the permanent exhibition underneath the site and began our audio tour. That's where it became hard for me. The further along I got, the more I read and saw, the harder it became.

I've never really thought it would hit me that hard. I remember going to an exhibit on the holocaust with my mother when I was quite young, and she broke down in tears. I remember thinking it odd. Last Friday I got a glimpse of what she might have been feeling. The war, the destruction, the tension, the deportations, the persecution, it left such an impression on the people having to live through it, seeing loved ones taken, having to hide, having to do what was needed to survive, that it left scars that would never heal. They were forever changed. And in turn, their children would never be the same people as they would have been had the war not occurred. And their children, and so on. It left me wondering who I would have been. It left me wondering how long it takes before the effects of something that horrible would fade to immeasurability.

That was a hard day. But luckily we finished the day with a wonderful meal at Katz Orange, a great restaurant. Afterwards, we went to have a drink at Neues Odessa, a trendy cocktail bar, but left fairly quickly because people were smoking inside. We ended up at Newton Bar, which was a lacked intimacy and was generally a little disappointing.

The next day we took our time to get going. We had some simple breakfast around Potzdamer Platz and started to explore the different sites around the city which had remnants of the original wall left. Throughout the day, the impression I was left with is just how incredibly bizar it must have been to live in not just a divided nation, but specifically a divided city. A divided nation is one thing, but when you're constantly confronted by this wall which runs arbitrarily throughout the city, it must be incredibly surreal. Not to mention the families and friends that were separated. What I never quite realised was that the wall was a unilateral construction by the DDR in order to prevent defections. I always had this idea that it was a mutual decision by the allies (France, England and the United States on the one hand, and Russia on the other) to divide their territory and spheres of influence.

We walked all the way up to Checkpoint Charlie, learning more about the process in which the wall came to be, the political climate and the situation around the different checkpoints. I found the story about the "Berlin Standoff" where for 16 hours in late October of 1961, Soviet and American tanks were pointed at each other. As interesting as that was, the checkpoint itself was a tourist circus and not at all interesting. The displays and exhibits were much more interesting than the actual checkpoint.

In the afternoon we found our way to Oranienburger Straße to take a look at the synagogue there, which was quite impressive. Around the corner was Mogg, a deli-style lunch place that was recommend to us by G.G. for the best pastrami sandwich in the world. I had the deluxe version; the Ruben. Holy fuck that was good.

After lunch we wandered around the Hackescher Markt and decided to go back to the hotel to rest up. We both had a nap and woke up just in time to go to the restaurant we had picked for that evening. It was out in the Charlottenburg neighbourhood and was considered by several sources as one of the best places to have a schnitzel. It was aptly called Schnitzelei. It was not exactly the restaurant I expected it to be. It was in the middle of a residential area and it was fairly simple. Just like Loetje in Amsterdam they do one thing, and they do it well, so there was zero bullshit. The moment I had made the comparison I went for it. Had a great meal.

The next day we went got an early breakfast and went to see the Reichstag. We had made reservations on Friday so there was no wait. The building is very impressive from the outside, but the view from the rather weird looking dome on the top is amazing. The domed structure itself is also quite impressive and there was quite a bit of information on the re-unification of the BDR and DDR, which was interesting. Afterwards we made our way to the East Side Gallery, a 1.3 kilometer part of the original Berlin wall still preserved. The wall itself was interesting, especially how it had been decorated.

On the way back to our hotel we were in the same u-bahn wagon as a few people just coming back from partying all night. It was about 12:30 or so. My hair dresser goes to Berlin a couple of times a year and talks about going to Berghain, Wilde Renate and Kater Blau. He says that partying in Berlin is truly a 24hr affair. This was not the trip to try that out, but that means there are reasons to come back. I only managed to see a small fraction of the things of interest, and only went for the must-see's. Hopefully I'll be back some day soon.

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31Jan/170

Seriously, Fuck Trump

While I have a much more nuanced opinion on the first two weeks of Donald Trump's presidency, I think I just want to say...

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18Jan/170

Rubik’s Cube

So some time ago, I somehow came up with the idea of buying a Rubik's cube and learning how to solve one. The idea that they could be solved through algorithms appealed to me. And so I bought an official Rubik's cube. I played around with it, did some research on the basic way to solve a Rubik's cube and started learning the steps. There are six or seven different steps, and I'm comfortable in all but the last two steps now.

Unfortunately, what started to frustrate me in the process more and more was the shitty way the Rubik's cube was handling and how easily it got jammed. In my research, I had seen some videos of people doing speed cube competitions, where the goal was to solve the cube as fast as possible. (Currently, the record is 4.74 seconds.) I had seen how those cubes handled; they were fast and smooth. I wanted a speed cube.

A few days later, and I'm the owner of a stickerless Muyo Aolong V2, and it's absolutely amazing. :)

18Jan/170

Bonte

Last week my father's best friend, Rien Bonte -- or Bonte, as my father always referred to him as -- passed away. They met as teenagers and became close friends, bonding over art and their love of psychedelics. They lost touch when Bonte married, supposedly because his wife didn't approve of the influence my father had on him. Luckily, they rekindled their friendship years later when Bonte divorced his wife.

When my father passed away, Bonte spoke at his cremation. He recalled how they met as teenagers on a hot summer's day. He immediately thought my father was cool, and edgy and daring. At the end of the day, as the sun went down, my father spontaneously jumped into a canal. He remained underwater for a very long time. Bonte waited for my father to reemerge, and he remembered feeling panicked when moments had passed. He couldn't see any movement in the dark water, and he knew he'd have to jump in after my father.

He thought that was a fitting metaphor for my father's death. My father had disappeared in the dark water and he felt like he wouldn't see him again until he had made the plunge into that same dark water.

I'm not doing his words justice at all. He was a poet, and I can only recall so much from that emotionally taxing time. I remember right after he said those beautiful words, my mother called out from the audience, saying that she hoped it would be a long time before he took that plunge. Eight-and-a-bit years later, and he took that plunge.

Besides writing novels, writing poetry, sculpting and painting, Bonte was a teacher of Dutch language at a high school. For two years, he was my teacher. He was considered an unusual teacher and a bit of a contrarian. He was considered cool and funny, and his teaching style appealed to a lot of teenagers. Because he was such a well-loved teacher, the turn out for his cremation was big. A lot of alumni showed up. I got to talk to my French teacher, who also spoke a few words at the ceremony, and I got to see my English teacher again, whom I was very fond of.

Because it was so busy, I wasn't too keen on standing in line to offer my condolences to the family. I wanted to, but I felt like I'd be intruding and bothering people. When I noticed the line of what must have been many strangers shaking the hands of Bonte's family, I decided to go and say something.

The first person I offered my condolences to was his son. I introduced myself, gave him my condolences and was ready to move on. He hesitated and then asked me if I was related to Ben. I told him he was my father. He smiled and said he had gotten to know my father well before he died. That was really nice to hear. I moved down the line, and got to Bonte's sisters. I again introduced myself and gave my condolences. They immediately recognised me as the my father's son and were delighted I had come and entertained me with a quick story how they had played with me as a young boy.

The last in the line was Bonte's father. Old and frail, sitting in a chair. I waited patiently and got annoyed at other people talking down at him (literally). It seemed so... unpleasant. When the old man was free, I shook his hands, squatted down so that we could look each other in the eye. I introduced myself, said that I was my father's son, and the man's face lit up. I told the old man that Bonte had been incredibly important to my father, and in turn to me. The man started to cry and said that he wasn't long for this world, and that he would tell that to Bonte soon.

Heartbreaking.

I've been to several funerals and cremations in the past few years. Most of them were friends of my father. A group of people who lived hard and died early as a result. I was unusually emotional at this one. I think there was some simmering sadness to do with my father, but it was also the realisation that the group was getting smaller and smaller, and that my step-father, Ruurd, was one of this ever-shrinking group of people.

When I got back to the table where Robin, Jody and Ruurd were sitting together with some of the usual suspects, I explained it to Ruurd, who in an uncharacteristic move of affection, pulled me in close for a hug and a kiss.

There is still so much sadness that I still haven't really processed.