Sonntag, 30. September 2012

Last week, the air smelled funny...

And in some places, the air also looked very spooky, especially considering large dark clouds rolling in from the west on Tuesday morning.

In Krefeld-Uerdingen, one of the large chemical plants site in our state, a storage hall at the COMPO fertilizer plant, containing more than 30,000 tons of different compounds for fertilizer production, was on fire.

Here is an eyewitness video from Duisburg, at the Lutherplatz crossroads. This place is about 1.5 kilometers west from my apartment, and about 2 kilometers away from the place where I work - where I was, when I saw those clouds, marvelling at first at these very peculiar dark rain clouds... until a colleague said "those aren't rain clouds - check the local news on the web!"

Another eyewitness video, from Duisburg-Buchholz, nearer to the fire site:

Aerial video recordings of the fire site and the giant smoke cloud from

Well, according to the state officials of the "Landesamt für Natur, Umwelt und Verbraucherschutz NRW" (State board of nature, environment and consumer rights protection for North-Rhine Westphalia), the readings taken around the cloud were mostly below the AEGL level 1 (AEGL being the "acute exposure guideline level", which is defined at level 1 to possibly cause irritation of mucuous membranes, but not being hazardous to the health). Nitrous oxides, ammonia, and carbon monoxide readings only surpassed that level in direct vicinity of the fire at times... thus causing six people (mostly firefighters) to be slightly injured during exinguishing the flames, from inhaling the fumes.

Funny... I always thought, that anything irritating my mucosae was in some way detrimental to my health, too... but then, growing up in the Ruhr are in the 1970s, the overall air quality back then was bad enough to make me inhale lots of vile stuff...

The fire itself could have been worse, since samples from the extinguishing water contained quite high levels of ammonium nitrate... OK, that's a common compound used in fertilizers, but with other ingredients added and a spark to ignite it, it can also be used to go "boom!" (as an explosive, that is). Fortunately, samples from the river port dock showed, that none of the exinguishing water made it into the river Rhine (unlike the fire at the Swiss Sandoz chemical plant in November 1986, when the extinguishing water got into the Rhine, dyeing the river bright red). So, there won't be masses of dead fish in the Rhine this time. Back then, the corporate officials also claimed, that the pesticides washed into the river were "harmless" and not hazardous for the general public's health. Perhaps not hazardous for the public, but definitely lethal for tons of fish.

Sandoz pesticide plant, Basel, Switzerland, November 1986

All in all, it depends again on how much exposure to the various toxic agents there was... commenting on the fire at the fertilizer plant, one of the COMPO officials said: "we never denied, that inhaling those compounds at higher concentration levels would be hazardous for the health"... typical corporate whitewashing talk. Still, lots of people in the region were suffering from mucosae irritation, sore throats, coughing... not to mention the psychological effect of seeing that cloud and reading and hearing the various mantras of "be careful, but it's not hazardous".

I'm glad, anyway, that the eerie-looking giant cloud has dissipated and the air does not smell of smoke anymore...

Montag, 24. September 2012

An Italian-Japanese collaboration...

That's what this song is: music composed and arranged by Yoko Kanno, lyrics and singing by Ilaria Graziano. The title is "I can't be cool"... and even though it's from the original score to one of the best Anime series (Ghost in the Shell, Stand Alone Complex, The 2nd Gig), it really befits what is happening in the fictional world of Panem, as featured in Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games, too.

Here's the song and the lyrics (with a translation of the Italian lyrics into English, too).

non credi che sia il momento di capire?
decidere di non restare immobili?
senti le voci che vendono ricchezze vane,
l'inganno del potere che consumerà l'aria...
Don't you think it's time to understand?
to decide not to remain immobile?
Hear the voices which sell us vain richness
a power's deceit that will consume air

i can't be cool tra le catene
i can't be cool ad occhi chiusi
i can't be cool sotto i resti di un sonno profondo
fatto di guerre in nome di dio
I can't be cool between the chains
I cant' be cool with closed eyes
I can't be cool under the remains of a deep sleep
made of wars in the name of God

tu pensi di possedere la tua vita
sotto il controllo di uomini avidi?
senti le voci che vogliono trovare pace
sono oscurate dai potenti sovrani del buio
Do  you think that you possess your own life
under the control of greedy men?
Hear the voices which want to find peace
darkened by the powerful sovereingns of darkness

i can't be cool senza parole
i can't be cool senza reagire
i can't be cool perché so già che l'indifferenza
chiude le porte dell'umanità
I can't be cool without words
I can't be cool without reacting
I can't be cool because I already know that indifference
closes the doors of humanity

i can't be cool tra le catene
i can't be cool ad occhi chiusi
i can't be cool sotto i resti di un sonno profondo
fatto di guerre in nome di dio
I can't be cool between the chains
I can't be cool with closed eyes
I can't be cool under the remains of a deep sleep
made of wars in the name of God

i can't be cool tra le catene
i can't be cool ad occhi chiusi
i can't be cool sotto i resti di un mondo sommerso
dalle violenze dell'umanità
I can't be cool beween the chains
I can't be cool with closed eyes
I can't be cool under the remains of a world drawn
in the violence of humanity

i can't be cool tra le catene
i can't be cool senza reagire
i can't be cool perché so già che l'indifferenza
chiude le porte dell'umanità
I can't be cool between the chains
I can't be cool without reacting
I can't be cool because I already know that indifference
closes the doors of humanity

se vorrai un'altra realtà
avrai il dono più grande
sarà la tua libertà
If  you want another reality
you will have the greatest gift
that will be your liberty

Autumn Fairies have danced by...

It certainly feels like on the day of the fall equinox (Saturday), autumn fairies had been around to fill the air with the typical feeling of fall... even though the day was fair, with fluffy white clouds in a blue sky, the air already began feeling quite cool in the shade (as well as the ground beneath my bare feet), while the sunlit places were still warm.

Autumn Fairy - painting by Caroline Jamhour

There is a special kind of magic to autumn - while most people feel glum and sad about grey skies, fog, rain and seeing the leaves fall, I am able to spot the beauty in this season as well and welcome the cooler days for their sensations, such as the tangy scents of wet leaves and rain-soaked soil. It's also the season, when the trees light up in hues of yellow, orange and red, before baring their limbs, providing us with sometimes breathtaking sights.

Oh, and the delight of feeling fallen leaves underfoot, when walking barefoot in the park in the woods or anywhere the trees have lost part of their foliage...

Sometimes it feels like saying good-bye to summer, when walking barefoot over wet grass, leaves underfoot, into the mist...

And this morning, not only autumn fairies are flutterin by, but rain fairies are celebrating a wild dance, as showers are falling (accompanied by an occasional flash of lightning and the rolling of thunder, too)...

My nuddhist morning exercise felt extra refreshing, when standing on my balcony, listening to the rush of rain falling and feeling the 9°C (49°F) cool air on my bare skin... today, I will make sure to roll up the cuffs of my pants high enough to keep them dry, while enjoying the feeling of splashing barefoot through large puddles on my way to work. Another example of me being different to the average and mainstream: most people feel depressed and miserable when it's cool and rainy... I rejoice, wiggling my bare toes happily in anticipation of getting my bare feet wet.

So, I have to thank the autumn and rain fairies for a nicely refreshing and invigorating start of a new week.

Samstag, 22. September 2012

Sending out positive and love vibes...

Today I decided to send out some positive and love vibes to the people dwelling in my heart, by sharing this wonderful message from the Healing Hugs facebook page with them:

Some facts about the so-called "Muslim Rage"

This is a very interesting read, indeed: what the mainstream media didn't tell us about the so-called "Muslim Rage" in reaction to the notorious anti-Mohammad video - presented by

Donnerstag, 20. September 2012

Woops - I didn't see that one coming!

Sudden enlightenment! While sitting at my desk at work, too! Wow!

OK, truth be told, it was the morning sun hitting my face in this nice way, while I was sitting at my desk. ;-)

Wait, this doesn't feel right...

...or: a moment that made me go "Huh??!"

This very wise quote by John Lennon also applies to what happened on Facebook yesterday, when the official reaction to Wendy Pini posting an art photograph of a nude woman carrying a wolf on her shoulders (see my previous entry "Moments that made me go "Wow!" - Reloaded", featuring that photo by Ryan McGinley) was to remove the picture from her Facebook wall and issue a 24-hour login ban...

There is something very wrong about a world, where beauty, love for Nature, and expressing the desire to be part of it in an artful way are banned and censored, while depictions of violence are still out there, sometimes glorified and used for propaganda.

Fortunately, the voices of criticism about this decision haven't been silenced - as yet - and lots of fans of Wendy's artwork stand up with her, voicing their dissent. It seems, that this is the continuation of people calling to ban her work, when she depicted a celebration of being in tune with Nature by her elves dancing nude in the light of the two moons (Leetah and Nightfall in "Siege at Blue Mountain", issue #1), or the famous pre-battle romp in classic ElfQuest issue #17.

How long will it take, before networks like Facebook start censoring museum sites for featuring classic nudes, or begin banning pages about recreational and/or spiritual naturism, or sites about loving Nature? I truly hope, this won't happen at all. But it takes watchful people to point out to the world, that something's really amiss here.

Here's my digital two cents added, trying to spread the word a bit more...

Moments that made me go "Wow!" - the evening show

I wondered, after having witnessed the gorgeous sunrises and cloud paintings yesterday morning, what more Mother Nature wants to show me of her unique artwork, as far as wild colors and spectacular views are concerned?

I got an answer, when seeing an orange glow outside the window yesterday evening, and went to the westward bathroom window, seeing this:

Just like a good symphony is composed, Mother Nature had decided to paint a glorious finale to that day, keeping in style with the breathtakingly beautiful sunrise introduction of it... seeing this, I decided to get downstairs and take a look at how this would appear outdoors. I was rewarded by several moments, taking my breath away:

Facing westwards, the sky looked like it was on flame... and while watching this, several clouds passing by overhead lost a small load of raindrops. I did not mind at all, but turned around, looking eastward to see, what the effect of that might be there... and yes, a hint of a rainbow was visible there:

The "clouds on fire" sensation then intensified in the eastern sky, as the clouds were then illuminated by the setting sun, thus creating the glorious and shining ending chord to yesterday's cloud and sky painting symphony:

I felt humbled and blessed by these sights, knowing that I am one of those people really appreciating about what's going on up there and being able to share, whatever Mother Nature decides to paint and sculpt in the sky or on the ground.

I felt like calling out to people "Why don't you look closer at this? Why are you rushing on, heedless of the visual gift you're given there?", especially when I saw a couple leaving the grey house on the left in the bottom picture - they just glanced up, quickly, then went on their way, hastily, having business of their own, apparently blind to the spectacular sights around them.

Even though the "civilized" world zooms by at times, forcing us to keep its pace, in order to function properly in it, I have learned that it is important to sometimes stop, look around and take in whatever the wild and natural world, the one where we live in instead of merely functioning, has to offer. I hope that there were more people like me, stopping in their tracks, looking up and had their breath taken away for a few moments by sights like this...

Mittwoch, 19. September 2012

The Luck Dragon effect...

Spotting another dragon-shaped cloud in the morning sky today (the second one I've seen in the last two weeks) actually paid off - literally - when I spotted something on the ground, just at the entrance of my apartment house: a rolled-up piece of paper, with a familiar red coloring to it...

Again, my looking at the path ahead, to prevent from stepping into something unpleasant while walking barefoot had its benefit. This is, what the piece of paper looked like:

I guess, it's quite clear, that this - again - was no ordinary piece of paper, and so, on picking it up, I waited a moment, to see whether someone would come by, in search of what he or she had lost... after all, 10 Euros can buy a lot of stuff and losing it is bad luck for someone...

Unrolling it, as I already hinted at, I was looking at this:

So, the dragon being a traditional Chinese symbol of luck, really brought me some. And it's the second time this year, that I found money lying on my way home after work...

Moments that made me go "Wow!" - Reloaded

After already experiencing several "Wow!" moments this morning, seeing very impressive cloud and sky paintings by Mother Nature at sunrise (see previous entries), another "Wow!" moment was seeing this black-and-white nude, done by photographer Ryan McGinley, shared by Fantasy graphic novel artist Wendy Pini (who created the ElfQuest universe together with her husband Richard):

Wendy wrote about the photo on the official ElfQuest Facebook page:

"Speaking as an artist, to me the poetry of this image is that we humans are vulnerable, ill-equipped to survive naked in the wild. Yet some of us will dare all because we feel an affinity...we dance to a different, older drummer. And if there are scratches and wounds...well...that's the price of admission. The High Ones payed it when they first emerged from the Palace onto the harsh landscape of Abode. Adapt or die. There was no other choice. We humans of today are generally ignorant of the wild, and it is shrinking as a result. But deep inside many of us still sleeps a primitive oneness with nature - symbolized by this photo - that stirs when we hear the night howl of the wolf." 

A beautiful and strong symbol of respecting, loving and learning to once again be one with Mother Nature.

A fanboy accessory?

Well, OK, one might say, that only "The Hunger Games" fangirls and fanboys are wearing this, but since the days have become cooler, I have taken the opportunity to wear my new pin together with my trademark barefoot logo button:

"I am the barefoot Mockingjay!"

And yet another annivers-ARRRR-y!

Happy Talk Like a Pirate Day, everyone!

And it's the 10-year-anniversary of it being officially celebrated, too!!

Official web site:

Moments that made me go "Wow!"...

Yesterday and today, I spotted some very nice sky paintings and had a shiny Goddess - Venus - greet me on my barefoot way to the bus stop, en route to work... today I even spotted another dragon (well, a cloud, looking like one), making it the second time I saw one of those passing over the morning sky before work...

Being symbols of luck, I took it as a sign to have a good day at work and in general... and it turned out to be true, too...

I wonder, what more sky paintings Mother Nature has in mind for the next days to come...

Orange and pink tinted clouds...

Bright orange sky painting...

Venus twinkling above the crossroads on my way to the bus stop

Just before sunrise, Venus still twinkles above the treetops (just above the tree on the right)

OK, who unleashed the dragon?? :-)

Only minutes after the dragon had passed, the clouds turned to impressive, with a slightly scary note...

Happy Birthday, Smilies!

September 19, 1982: In a message sent on this day, Scott Fahlman of Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, PA proposed the use of emoticons in digital messages...

So, today is the 30th birthday of the emoticons and smilies as we know them today.

The only one missing on that list is the emoticon for the birthday party clown: *~<8oD

Here's a nice list of emoticons and the difference in use, comparing East to West, for instance:

Mid-week early morning impressions...

Well, this morning certainly feels like autumn, considering the quite cool air (10°C/50°F), which I felt first, after getting out of gthe shower, drying myself off and then opening the bathroom window, to watch a puff of steam escape and feel a cool breeze entering the room. This first slight chill made me feel really awake at once, and I smiled, stepping out of the bathroom to get my coffee, then opened my balcony door to greet this dark early in my usual nuddhist way, enjoying the feeling of a slight breeze on my skin.

Gazing towards the poplar trees in the back yard - black shadows in front of a dark night sky, since sunrise won't be until an hour later - I saw Orion twinkling just left of them in the south-eastern sky. The air smells freash and clean and in the back yard, there are wet spots reflecting the light of street lamps nearby... so, it has rained overnight, washing the air clean. Watching my breath leaving my mouth with little wisps of steam, I slowly sip on my warm, sweet coffee, feeling again the doubly invigorating effect of the caffeine brew from the inside and the cool air on the outside...

Interesting fact: the positions of the three great pyramids in Giza, Egypt, correspond with the positions of the three stars in Orion's belt: Al-Nitak, Al-Nilam and Mintaka

I am looking forward to feeling the wet ground beneath my soles, when making my barefoot trip to work - for of course, I won't be donning shoes as yet... to avert feeling cold, I rather put on a slightly thicker jacket (my thick black cotton hoodie will do just fine) to keep my core temperature high, while enjoying the feeling of cool pavement, puddles and wet grass, letting those sensations trigger the circulation in my lower legs...

The fall equinox is still three days away, but according to current forecasts, mornings are predicted to feel just like this one: cool and clear, promising to add that extra portion of refreshment to start into a work day charged with positive energy. Another thing to look forward to: eleven days to the next full moon... basking in the full moon's light on such a clear night/early morning, while feeling Earth beneath my bare feet will add even more nice and positive energy...

Dienstag, 18. September 2012

Redeemer - kind of creepy...

OK, I know there is that quote from the New Testament with Jesus saying "I am the light of the world", but this item of electric household appliances is quite tacky-looking as well as a little creepy, considering the position of the switch and where the kids are looking at...

And now: where are the Christian protesters rallying in front of electric appliances plants???


Montag, 17. September 2012

Ending my September leave - taking in the mood in the park...

Since this Sunday was living up to its name, I took a few yummy things (such as brownies and grapes), some favourite music on my MP3 player, dressed in my favourite sarong and one of my big-bellied grinning Buddha t-shirts and walked barefoot (how else?) down to my favourite park...

Since it was a nicely warm sunny day, lots of people were around, including families, lots of kids and dgos, some joggers - but all of them shod... despite perfect conditions and wonderfully feeling textures, I was the sole barefooter (pun intended). Most of the grass I walked on was still dew-wet in the afternoon, almost ankle deep (Mother Nature's shaggy carpet) and the soil underneath soft from the previous rainy days. On entering the park, the cobblestones on the way felt nicely cool in the shade, while the sunlit sand and grit paths felt like a warm beach underfoot.

While most of the trees and bushes were still green, a few traces of fall setting in were quite visible, too.

With all those people around, I refrained from my usual nuddhist meditation and chose to sit on a bench, soak up some sun, have a little picnic and listen to some music, while taking in the different views of the greenery...

That cushion was already lying there - I did not bring it...

The final two pictures in the series above were the early evening sky above the park (making sure to capture the jet exhaust trail as a style element) and facing westward near my apartment house on returning home (making sure to capture the sundog halo, visible in the lower center).

Since I wrote about the different textures I walked on, I also took pictures of my feet walking them, for sure... after all, blogging about a barefoot walk in the park would be incomplete without featuring my feet, right? ;-)

Signs of fall, no.1: mushrooms (foot fungi? ;-) )

Signs of fall, no. 2: a chestnut on the path

Signs of fall, no. 3: mushroom on a treestump (without feet)

Even though it was a warm day, it can't be denied that fall is just around the corner. And even though I like warm summer days (as long as they don't get too hot), there's something special about fall, too... especially the magic of colors setting in around October, commonly called Indian Summer, fog rising from the ground as fiery beams at sunrise or sunset set it ablaze, the feeling of fallen leaves beneath bare soles, dry and smelling spicy-sweet or wet and carrying a heavy scent of rain and soil... the mostly cool sensation of grass and moss underfoot, even on sunny days, and even the first frosty kisses on my bare toes, as mornings can start off with rime on the grass... The year's wheel is turning toward the cooler half and there's no stopping it.

Same goes for the smaller wheel of the clock, ticking away the minutes and hours until it's time to get up early on Monday morning, as this month's leave is over. The next time, when I'll have a week to relax will be at the beginning of December, when I will be barefooting into the start of winter.