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May 2020
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Whatchamacallit 56: 100% Kona Coffee, Peaberry.

100% Kona Coffee -- Peaberry

For quite a few years I was a coffee snob – at home, brewing and drinking only 100% Kona Coffee.

It started during my trip to Kona, Hawaii in 2014: the first morning, I was drinking a cup of 100% Kona Coffee when I stopped, turned to my travel companion, and said, “This is the best cup of coffee I have ever drunk.”

Leaving Hawaii my suitcase was filled with several different bags of coffee – which I drank back in Berlin. At that point, every trip to the States became a coffee run: I would order several bags of what became my favorite.

Yes, I would order 100% Kona Coffee, Peaberry, Whole Bean, to be shipped to whatever hapless relative or friend I was visiting, then stuff them into my suitcase and bring them back to Germany.

However, I quit drinking coffee in November 2018 because it was fucking with my sleep too much: I am incredibly caffeine sensitive and drinking coffee anytime after 10:00 would result in me staying awake way past midnight.

Quitting was the most expedient thing to do – plus it saved me a lot of money and space in my suitcase.

Since then I have had three or four cups of coffee, all strategically drunk on days when I needed to stay awake – like my first full day in Québec last September: I needed to drive for 8 hours to get to the start of my real vacation. Waking up early, strategically drinking a cup of coffee, and getting in the car – I only need to stop to go – and I went.

I realize that I could go with decaf coffee – but what’s the point?

Currently I drink fruit juice in the mornings, then switch to water. Occasionally I drink wine or beer in the evenings – sometimes even cocktails.


During the Covid-19 crisis, I am going to try and make a point of writing a blog post about an object in my home.

We’ll see how long this lasts.

Whatchamacallit 55: My Panama Feather

Panama Feather

I know that I’ve already written about my Panama Hat – today I write about my Panama Feather.

The feather is specific to the Panama Canal – in Spanish, “el canal de Panamá.” It is dated 2017 and appears, to be signed by Jacob Puntana – but I’m not really sure about that name. I have no idea what I paid for the feather.

Getting the feather framed was amusing on a couple front: the feather was attached to the piece of paper and the name written across the bottom – not really well centered from an artistic perspective and the framer wasn’t sure how to deal with it without doing some thinking.

More amusingly, neither the master framer nor the apprentice realized that the feather was a feather – both thought it was a flat painting painted in such a way that it looks like it is on a feather. It was an offhand remark on my part about making sure the glass did not touch the feather that brought the 3D nature of the actual painting to the fore.

The painting captures perfectly the Panama Canal experience: the ship going through a lock, the train tracks next to the canal with the powerful engines that pull boats into the locks, the buildings next to the canal. I think the only thing I did not see was the bird.

As I said before, I really enjoyed my trip to Panama and want to go back.


During the Covid-19 crisis, I am going to try and make a point of writing a blog post about an object in my home.

We’ll see how long this lasts.

Whatchamacallit 54: G-Line Glasses Cleaner

G-Line Denver

I’m a fan of public transit – and expanding rail networks, much like has happened in Denver.

Denver opened its G-Line on April 26, 2019 – and I happened to be in Denver for it. I did not ride it that Friday or Saturday, but Sunday morning I happened to pass by one of the rail stations with a friend – we stopped, parked the car, and rode the line for free.

There’s not really lot of touristy things to do along the G-Line, except at the Olde Town Arvada station – which is where we got off the train and explored the neighborhood. We bought some spices at Penzey’s, ate some ice cream, and wandered around for an hour.

While getting on the train, we were given free schwag to celebrate the line’s opening: this eyeglass cleaning cloth was one of the things; the other was a tube of lip balm that had expired.

This is because the opening of the G-Line was delayed: it was supposed to open in late 2016. However, for complicated technical reasons, it was delayed well over two years.

I tossed the lip balm but kept this – it is one of the few things I have that represents Denver in any way, shape, or form. I keep it attached to my bulletin board – and it has not yet been covered over (unlike what you can see behind it).


During the Covid-19 crisis, I am going to try and make a point of writing a blog post about an object in my home.

We’ll see how long this lasts.

Whatchamacallit 53: Stimulating Money.

Monday’s mails brought me my $1200 stimulus check.

Fuck you very much.

Nothing I say has not already been said about the insanity that is having an asshole’s name on the check. No: I am not an asshole; nor is Vena S. Robinson.

At the suggestion of a friend, I have already donated $1200 to the Biden for President campaign.


During the Covid-19 crisis, I am going to try and make a point of writing a blog post about an object in my home.

We’ll see how long this lasts.

Whatchamacallit 52: Samoan Fale

Samoan Fale

Back in 2015, when I went around the world heading east, I stopped in Samoa – I went there because it was the easiest way to get to American Samoa.

It turns out Samoa is much, much, nicer than American Samoa. I could start to try and dissect the reasons why, but that’s not the point of this exercise.

Instead, I reflect upon my time at Taufua Beach Fales – an amazing resort that is about as far away from the main international airport in Samoa whilst being on the same island. I spent was too little time there – it was truly extraordinary and relaxing. Of my three full days at the resort, one was spent taking a tour of the some of the island’s highlights. I do not regret this

Before I forget, according to the Samoa travel site, a fale is:

Fale is the Samoan word for house of any size. Traditionally, a Samoan fale is an oval or circular shape, has a domed, thatched roof held up with wooden poles and has no permanent walls. Roll-down blinds, called pola, surrounded the structure.

I stayed in a beach enclosed ensuite fale – which basically meant I was in the second row of fale, a few steps from the ocean.

I blogged about it: Monday, April 20, 2015, has rocked! From the beaches of Samoa…

At the end of my stay I was given this wooden fale – with this nice pattern on one side; the other says Samoa.

The fale rests on the shelf behind my couch – a quick visible reminder of my time on a truly beautiful island, at an incredibly friendly resort, very much doing nothing.

I want to go back.


During the Covid-19 crisis, I am going to try and make a point of writing a blog post about an object in my home.

We’ll see how long this lasts.

Whatchamacallit 51: Maker’s Mark Whisky

Maker's Mark Whisky

Back in 2006 I took a memorable trip to Louisville, Kentucky, and New York City, New York – originally meant to be two trips, they became one. Although multiple things went wrong on that trip, I ended up having a good time.

One of the good times was a detour with a friend to the Maker’s Mark Whisky Distillery, about an hour south of Louisville. It was my first time visiting a distillery, so I knew nothing about the subject. We visited the distillery on February 18, 2006.

What puzzles me is that I never specifically blogged about the trip to the distillery, although I did mention it in passing in another blog post. What still sticks out in my memory, some 14 years later, was the pie chart they had on display at the distillery.

A Pie Chart Gone wrong

After the tour was over, we were led into the gift shop where we had the opportunity to dip our own bottles of Maker’s Mark in wax – the unique selling point of Maker’s Mark is the fact that the bottles are hand-dipped in wax, thus sealing in the product.

Thus, this is the first bottle of whiskey I have ever owned – and it has unique dribbles of wax down the stem of the bottle.

Funny enough, prior to buying this bottle of whisky, I had never actually sampled whisky. At least that I can recall. What I do recall is that the next week I was in New York City on business, where I overlapped with my father. We had dinner in a restaurant – I believe on 14th Street – and after dinner I sampled Maker’s Mark for the first time.

Today I rarely drink – but when I do, I have a selection of unusual whisk(e)ys on my shelf. However, I do not have a bottle of Maker’s Mark on that shelf. Maybe I should get one?

Covid-19 has not really increased my drinking: I seem to be saving the bottles for a (future) special occasion. Some of the bottles are Whatchamacallit-worthy. However, as I am only on day 51 of this series, I have plenty of time to talk about those other bottles – whether open or not.


During the Covid-19 crisis, I am going to try and make a point of writing a blog post about an object in my home.

We’ll see how long this lasts.

Whatchamacallit 50: My Toilet Sign

Next!

Last year I went to Barcelona with the goal of figuring out where my Great Aunt drew the drawing that hangs on my wall – the goal was achieved, thanks to one of my friends – which I cannot thank him enough for his hard work!

While there, I picked up the above print – which now is framed and hangs next to my bathroom – a less explicit image that what I had previously hanging next to the bathroom (that drawing is saved and will reappear one day – but that’s a whatchamacallit for another day).

This is incredibly cute – and, unfortunately, I do not recall the name of the shop where I bought it – and now that this is framed, any information on the backside is locked away without serious work. I know roughly where in Barcelona I found the shop, but Google maps is not coughing up the shop when I zoom in – so either Google isn’t coughing it up or the shop has closed. Hopefully the former and not the latter.

I actually bought two prints at the shop – maybe the friend who I gave the other print to can look at hers and tell me where: but given Covid-19, this might take a few weeks to resolve.

I love looking at this as I go into my bathroom.


During the Covid-19 crisis, I am going to try and make a point of writing a blog post about an object in my home.

We’ll see how long this lasts.

Whatchamacallit 49: P30-Pro

There was roughly a period of time that I was an Apple person.

It started with an iPod in the mid 2000s, followed by an iPhone – I remember PapaScott showing off his iPhone at a WEBMU event and I had to have one. So I eventually got one. Then I bought a MacBook, followed by a MacBook Pro.

However, at some point I started to become irritated with Apple’s service – or rather, shitty service. My MacBook Pro needed attention, but it was impossible to get an appointment in Berlin and then I was informed that it would take 8-12 working days after I turned in my computer before they could start working on it.

That’s an eternity for a freelancer – or, indeed, anybody.

So my computer became a ThinkPad running Windows.

My iPhone remained an SE; none of the newer models were compelling.

Then the battery started to die – so while in Las Vegas last year, I went to the Apple Store to get the battery replaced. The woman tried to talk me out of it, giving me strategies to extend battery life. I didn’t fall for her bullshit, but paid $49 to replace the battery.

An hour later, I had a newly refurbished SE because the clips holding my battery in had broken.

That was good, but the attempt to restore my iPhone failed badly and all my data was some how locked up behind a passcode that I did not know – the phone they gave me had not been updated to the most recent version of the OS, so I actually had to update it after I got it, after I had attempted to restore my old phone on to the new phone.

Bleh.

This left me irritated, so when I got back to Berlin, I asked a techie friend what phone I should buy and I ended up buying the Huawei P-30 Pro. This was a year ago, today: May 9th.

At least that’s when my phone starts recording my footsteps – it is a bit unclear to me how this worked because I know that I bought the phone after work, yet I managed to get 11,177 steps in on May 9th? That seems unlikely. But I guess I did.

The phone is a good companion: I’ve essentially stopped carrying any other camera because the phone’s camera is excellent. It does phone work, it does music work, it does podcast work, and it does camera work.

It also tracks my steps – which, quite frankly, has probably saved my sanity.

Before the phone, I was not necessarily the most active person – yet I started trying to keep its goal of 10,000 steps each day. I’ve done so every day since September 11, 2019 – so a decent streak and one that I’ve kept going throughout the Covid-19 crisis.

Honestly, going out each morning for a walk at 6 in the morning has kept me sane: its roughly 90 minutes of walking (actually more like 80, but depends on my speed) – 90 minutes to get fresh air, see the world, and listen to podcasts.

I’d struggled to make it out for a walk before Covid-19: New Year’s Day was quite the struggle, but I did it – but now the 5:30 alarm keeps me going (and puts me in bed quite early).

I also appreciate the phone’s excellent battery life – far better than I ever experienced with my iPhone SE; new or aged – this despite the fact that I run white noise off of my phone all night, every night.

One of the funniest things about this phone is that I visited a good friend whose kid asked “ist das ein Huawei P-30 Pro?” — he figured it out from across the room.


During the Covid-19 crisis, I am going to try and make a point of writing a blog post about an object in my home.

We’ll see how long this lasts.

Whatchamacallit 48: Goethe and Schiller, finger puppets.

Goethe und Schiller

Living in Weimar for 6 years – my first six years in Germany – I learned something important very quickly: Weimar IS THE CENTER OF EVERYTHING.

Weimar is home to Goethe (died 1832), Schiller (died 1805), and is The European Capital of Culture (1999). It is the home to all great German things.

Spend enough time in the friendly environs of Weimar and one might start to think that Weimar is it; the only place in Germany that is authentically German.

Of course, to any sane person, with a broader perspective, this is amusing. There is far more to Germany than Weimar and Goethe.

But back in the bubble, Weimar offers its guests, among its primary attractions, Goetheplatz, Goethe’s Haus, Goethe’s Garten Haus, the Goethekaufhaus, the Goethe Apotheke, Goethes Schokolädchen, Goethegymnasium, and a statue of Goethe with his (best) friend, Schiller.

At some point I found the above finger puppets for sale – a whimsical copy of the authentic, large statue. As a way to play with Goethe and Shiller, it is cute and it takes the mickey out of the subject.

Hence, I love it.

I alluded to this yesterday and then, after a brief exchange with a friend, decided to feature it today.

Playing with it makes me insanely happy. Probably why I was in a good mood all Thursday afternoon.


During the Covid-19 crisis, I am going to try and make a point of writing a blog post about an object in my home.

We’ll see how long this lasts.

Whatchamacallit 47: Brandenburg Tor in a brush

Brandenburg Tor

I rarely like authentic imitations of famous landmarks – rather I prefer things that take the mickey out of serious real life objects – it took me years in Weimar before I found the perfect trinket (object of art) to represent the city. That’s an object for another day.

This is an object that aims squarely at Berlin and its Brandenburg Tor.

The brush normally sits on a shelf in my kitchen along side other Brandenburg Tor shaped things – each one bringing a smile to me for a different reason. This one is absurd in that it can never actually be used as a brush, rather it just abstracts out to just the most important aspects of the gate: the 12 columns forming six passageways, the horizontal structure across the top, all crowned by a hard wire brush Quadriga.

It is perfect.

In spring 2015, I found the object walking down Oranienstraße in Kreuzberg – catching it out of the corner of my eye, then having to double-back to stop and stare in the shop window.

The shop was DIM Ladencafé, part of the Union Sozialer Einrichtungen, a company that has a very strong social mission to incorporate disabled and disadvantaged people into its workplace.

At the time I bought a number of these brushes, along with some of their other merchandise, giving them away to friends that I was visiting. This is the one example that remains, sitting along side other Brandenburg Tors in my kitchen.

This is probably the best one in my collection – I don’t want to spoil the others because it is only the 47th Whatchamacallit and I fear I have many, many more to go.


During the Covid-19 crisis, I am going to try and make a point of writing a blog post about an object in my home.

We’ll see how long this lasts.