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What’s In A Meal?

Posted by Viktoria Michaelis on January 5, 2015 in Personal |

Yesterday, as I wrote, Hannover, today I was on foot through the streets of Bremen. Now, you might wonder why I should want to walk around Bremen when I am there – in college – almost every single day of the working week. The thing is, yes, I am there but, at the same time, I am not. The college is not the same as Bremen, it isn’t even in the center of town, and arriving at college first thing in the morning then traveling back home late afternoon is not exactly conducive to spending time on foot taking a look at things.

So today was also a photography day, but without the museums and galleries, which are closed on Mondays. And also, because I sometimes feel a little hunger, something to eat and think about on the way. Yesterday it was this thing here:

Photo: Viktoria Michaelis

This is a Burger King breakfast without the bacon. That folded thing on the left is meant to be a sort of muffin, which might have been improved with a dab of butter. The scrambled egg(s) look far more than they really were and the coffee, well, calling it coffee is an insult to coffee. I had a cup of hot milk with a hint of coffee flavor thrown at it from a great distance. The price without bacon is the same as the price with bacon, and the only reason I ate my ‘breakfast’ in Burger King is because the McDonalds in Andreasstrasse doesn’t serve breakfast at nine in the morning on a Sunday and there was nowhere else open which served hot food. Not, I suspect, that their breakfast eggs would have been any better, but this is fast food we’re talking about, and I shouldn’t expect or hope for more.

Today, however, I had a midday breakfast in Bremen having arrived here later than I had planned. Well, the weather is clouded and dismal again and I almost couldn’t be bothered…. This time I was in a real restaurant – I’m going to avoid all fast food from now on – where I had a meal for just over twice the price of my Burger King breakfast, with four times as much to eat and ten times as much flavor: pumpkin curry on a bed of rice with lemongrass. The restaurant is a vegan one, which I didn’t know about before, called Vengo. It is small, customers have to share the few tables available, but the selection of food is excellent and the daily menu limited to three main course items, but also excellent. Don’t ask me to describe the curry, I was too busy enjoying it to worry about remembering another else.

And the best news of the day is that I found a camera shop which specializes in film cameras, is packed full of wonderful examples of old and new, and has a friendly, knowledgeable staff too. Pity that the staff in the other camera shop – which is not too far away – didn’t mention it, even in passing. I would still have bought my films there, but the other items which I need, which modern camera shops don’t seem to recognize any more, need to come from a real camera shop, and this one is it. Now all I need to do is remember exactly where it is so that I can go back again with my shopping list!

Love & Kisses, Viki.

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Visiting Hannover: Two Museums

Posted by Viktoria Michaelis on January 4, 2015 in Photography |

I thought I had done my Internet research thoroughly: a quick search on museums in Hannover which specialize in Photography. The Google results – which I had to trim down since Google was convinced that I was in Berlin at the time – all pointed towards the Sprengel Museum (site in German), which was founded, according to the blurb on their site, by a group of photographers and has been in the business of acquiring new photography ever since. Sadly the Internet and the reality of the Sprengel Museum differ, in that there is one major exhibition of modern photography to be seen, and nothing from the collection. Now, I have nothing against Martin Parr – whose exhibition of photographs WE LOVE BRITAIN! was the main attraction – but I was expecting a little more, especially when I found my way downstairs, away from the present exhibition, and in a small room called the Photography Room. Here, I thought, there would be something. There was not. Rather I was confronted with a small selection of over-sized paintings enhanced by under-sized descriptions and maps and a series of what I think, I didn’t remain long once I’d seen the error of my ways, may have been watercolors.

Sprengel Museum, Hannover

Photo: Viktoria Michaelis

There is a lot of space in the Sprengel museum, almost all plain concrete and a great deal underused. Perhaps a few of these blank walls could have held the odd photograph from the hidden collection? Certainly the whole would not have been so cold and hard with a touch of color added here and there, or even a little light! Although, to be honest, the light tended to fall in all the right places and was only really subdued when visitors found their way into side corridors and some of the smaller art exhibition rooms deep under the earth’s crust. Disappointed with the lack of historical photography, I moved on and, on a whim more than anything else, paid a visit to the Historisches Museum, Hannover. Here I had more luck.

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No Service, No Sale

Posted by Viktoria Michaelis on January 2, 2015 in News & Opinion |

I wouldn’t have believed it if I’d only heard about the course of events, but I was actually there and got to see the whole thing. Chances are no one else noticed me, otherwise perhaps things would have been different, but I was there, in the background, with my mouth hanging open in sheer amazement. And all because someone was incapable of making a milk coffee and didn’t know that ham is meat.

Now, I might have mentioned this in an earlier post, but it runs something like this: an order for a bread roll without meat, since there is nothing else in the café on display but you can normally expect someone to make a fresh roll for you, gets answered with an offer of a ham roll. A cup of milk coffee – hot milk with coffee – to take out results in a cup of black coffee, no milk anywhere near. A complaint about the two events to the two members of staff concerned results in abuse.

Normally you’d think that would be it. Someone somewhere would try to find out if ham really is meat and, perhaps, whether milk coffee includes milk in the recipe. It’s not exactly rocket science. Nothing of the kind. In fact, completely the opposite, as I discovered as I waited for a good friend of mine to pay his gas bill so that we could get on with the afternoon, and despite the fact that this encounter over ham and coffee took place several weeks ago.

Photo Source: Susan StienstraCreative Commons

All he did was top up the gas tank while I went into the shop, then come in, greet those there with the usual ‘Good Morning’ – which is a quaint German custom, whether you know anyone there or not – and walk to the cash desk.

The man and woman standing at the cash desk promptly went off in different directions, leaving him there, gas tank full, payment in his hand, alone. Then the man decided it might be better to serve or, at the very least, get the money, so he came back with a ‘what do you want’ in an exceptionally rude and unfriendly tone. This is when my mouth began to sag downwards: I have never seen this sort of reaction from anyone in a shop, store, gas station or anywhere else where service is offered.

My friend said, politely, that he’d like to pay for number eight – the station number – with his bank card. The assistant replied with a ‘there’ and pointed to the card reader, tapped on the till to get the right station and walked away again. My friend inserted his card, typed in the code, removed his card. The woman came over, took the receipt out of the printer, slapped it on the counter and walked away.

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Do You Guys Even Celebrate?

Posted by Viktoria Michaelis on January 1, 2015 in Immoral Conversations |

Some people have strange ideas, mainly caused by a lack of knowledge or half-knowledge of things around them. The question of whether I celebrate Christmas is one thing – I don’t as such, but as a holiday I do – but to be asked whether I celebrate New Year because, you know, being a foreigner and Asian and all that…

Chinese New Year

Photo Source: SaltdeanbeachCreative Commons

I think this must be the first time anyone has suggested that I am Chinese – a simple mistake to make since we all look the same – or did they really think that all Asian-looking people have their new year on a different date?

Love & Kisses Viki.

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Individual Delivery

Posted by Viktoria Michaelis on December 31, 2014 in Photography |

I have a very interesting situation at the moment, and one which could take a few more days to clear up. As many of you will know, I have decided to try my hand at photography with a real, film camera. From this fact you will have worked out that I require films, fortunately easy to acquire rolls of film and not glass plates or anything like that. Although…

Initially I bought my first rolls of film from the local photography shop, noticing that one roll had expired when I got home, but I used it anyway. They didn’t have the brand of film that I wish to use, though, so I had to do a little exploration and ended up finding a supplier on the Internet. Saves me having to travel through the whole area hoping that whichever shop I find has what I want. Since placing my order – the company supplying is in Dresden – I have discovered that the camera shop near the main railway station in Bremen stocks my film, which would make life a good deal easier since I am so often right there and can run across and get myself new supplies at will. Fine, they have nothing to do with analog film cameras, and precious little knowledge of them either, but that makes little difference.

Roll Film

Photo Source: cv47alCreative Commons

My first five films arrived from Dresden with no problems at all: good price and postage free. Spurred on I ordered a new set of a different film from them too and, as things should be, received notification that the goods were on the way and my bank account had been debited. All fine and good, until the package arrived: there was only one solitary roll of film enclosed.

So, a mail to the company asking and, quicker than I had imagined since it was vacation time, a reply. I need to be patient, the mail told me, the goods have been sent – and two dates were given – but they have no control over the post. That would be fine, I thought, if it had anything to do with the post, and why two dates? A new mail explaining that I am not being impatient, but that the delivery lacked four of the required five rolls. So far I’ve had no answer, which is to be expected because, as I say, it is vacation time. I do, however, have an answer as to why two postal dates were given; a second package arrived today.

The thing is, this delivery also only contained one roll of film…

Love & Kisses, Viki.

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Falling For The Sucker Punch

Posted by Viktoria Michaelis on December 30, 2014 in Internet |

I wonder whether this really works, whether people really get in touch with the sender of the original mail – thus confirming their address – or even try to upgrade their accounts. I can imagine some people might, if they don’t read beyond the first few words, and they might even attempt an upgrade of some sort.

Your email ( webmaster ) is almost full.
 Current size
 1989MB 2000MB
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 Your mailbox is running out of data storage and it might be close kindly to add more MB to your mailbox.
 Upgrade Now
• If don't upgrade your mail box, you will not receive more emails frequently
 • You will be finding it hard receiving emails.
 • Your account might be closed
 • Your important mail will be wiped away
 Note: Upgrade if free of charge, you are not charge any service fee.
 Copyright ? 2014 Email Administrator. All rights reserved. **********************************************************************************************************************
 CONFIDENTIALITY. This e-mail and any attachments are confidential and may also be privileged. If you are not the named recipient, please notify the sender immediately and do not disclose the contents to another person, use it for any purpose, or store or copy the information in any medium. Any views expressed in this message are those of the individual sender, except where the sender specifically states them to be the views of JK Technosoft Ltd. If you have received this e-mail in error please immediately notify the person who has sent this email to you with copy to administrator@emailserver.com
 **********************************************************************************************************************

 

That would be foolish, to say the least. The link in the Upgrade Now box (this was an HTML mail) goes to http://oktekbooks.com/images/_notes/cgi-go-bins/bigpond/user_0.php, which has nothing to do with mail or an individual account. I suspect that it will open a script, and then your computer is belonging to someone else – pardon my language, I was carried away by the wonderful use of professional English in this clearly legal and trustworthy missive.

One of my other favorites at the moment is the Apple Cloud mail, have you seen that one? Your iCloud password has been breached, log in to repair it? Started out shortly after the theft of thousands of naughty photographs from celebrities hit the news and is also, as you can guess, really, really trustworthy.

Love & Kisses, Viki.

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Seeing The World In Black And White

Posted by Viktoria Michaelis on December 28, 2014 in Photography |

The plan today was to go out with my small selection of cameras and start learning. The results of this learning process will take quite a while to come through, since the films have to be developed first, but there is always a digital back-up just in case. The plan meant that I was allowed freedom of the streets with a Canon EOS 40D, a Voigtländer VSL 3-E  (Fujichrome Provia 400X color film) and a Asahi Pentax ME (Agfaphoto APX 400 film). The films are those I bought from the local photographer, not having the patience to wait for my ordered films to arrive! Patience, especially when it comes to photography, is something that I am going to have to learn: the world isn’t photo-ready at the same time as I am.

The plan worked, I hasten to add, and I did get out into the freezing cold with my three cameras and a rough idea of how things work. After that it all goes downhill.

Photo Source: Viktoria Michaelis

Well, not really downhill, things were not that bad. For me the hardest part is struggling against the cold. After the mildest winter start on record – I am told – we hit minus temperatures last night, and they hadn’t raised anything worth mentioning when I padded out of the front door, done up with everything warm on you can imagine. This morning at nine it was still minus six (that’s 21°F) and the ground frost was battling the thin sunshine with a good chance of winning the day.

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Hardly A Spare Moment

Posted by Viktoria Michaelis on December 27, 2014 in Personal |

It would be easy enough for me to sit down, when I have a spare few hours, and simply write one post after another, backdating them for the days that I have missed out this month. I could come up with all sorts of tales, comments, opinions, general stuff to fill the white spaces, and hardly anyone would notice. Or, I could have written ten or twenty posts in advance and simply added them to the publishing queue. There were times when I did this, times when I thought it important to ensure that a new post came out on my blog every single day of the year, no matter what.

Christmas Cheer

Photo Source: Hope2bCreative Commons

I have, however, made myself an advance New Year’s Resolution – even though I don’t believe in them, and probably wouldn’t be able to keep one for more than a few minutes – and that is: to get out and experience rather than chain myself to a computer. Of course I want to write here, and keep everyone up to date on life and stuff, but, at the same time, if I spend all my time writing about my experiences, how will I have the time to experience?

The chances are that I will still write pretty much every day, but just don’t be surprised if there is a break of a day or two now and then. I’ll always be back, but a little breathing space, a little going out and doing time, is also a good thing.

Love & Kisses, Viki.

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Facts And Figures: Camera Usage On Flickr

Posted by Viktoria Michaelis on December 22, 2014 in Internet |

If you ever happen to take a glance at Flickr, a once higher popular photographic community recently taken over by Yahoo!, you will notice firstly that it hasn’t been abandoned by all the good photographers simply because of the change of ownership and, secondly, the selection of photographic works available there can be outstanding, inspiring, pretty much an awesome experience – if you find the right profiles.The more astute reader here will have noticed that I use Flickr for my illustrations on each post, the Creative Commons selection being very large indeed, and seldom disappointing.

The other day, though, I decided to go a little deeper and see – as I was looking at which camera to use myself – which were the most popular cameras amongst the thousands of people who post their photography to Flickr. The information, I realized before starting, was bound to be flawed since uploading scanned analogue images is not going to show the original camera, but will show the scanner or the device used to upload. So any results on the most popular cameras would be limited to purely digital.

Popularity, Camera, Photography, Flickr

Screenshot Source: Flickr

Sadly I cannot do a trace-back to see what the previous most popular cameras were a year ago, before Yahoo! took over, right at the start and so on. I do wonder, though, whether the popularity of non-camera cameras has been brought about by the rise – and fall – of such services as Instagram or the abundance of self-portraits on Facebook. Although, combing through Facebook – and other similar social networks – does bring out a fairly high number of selfies where the photographer has used a real camera.

I should add that Flickr does differentiate between real cameras and cell phone cameras, but that makes no difference to the top five. I, for one, will be sticking to a real camera for the foreseeable future – both digital and analogue – and leave the selfie-style photography to Japanese tourists with their iPad and schoolgirls balancing on toilet seats.

Love & Kisses, Viki.

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Despite The Weather, Trying New Things

Posted by Viktoria Michaelis on December 21, 2014 in Personal |

Having neglected my camera for far too long, I decided that today would be a good day to get out into the wilds of northern Germany – but not too far into the wilds! – and see what can be seen. I must admit, though, that my plan was – and is – a little more than just that, than just going out and shooting a few photographs. I want to learn something, and I learn best by doing. I want to learn how to shoot photographs which are at least halfway decent and which are not digital.

Engraved Stone Post, Rohrson, Germany

Photo: Viktoria Michaelis

Isn’t everything digital these days? Are there still cameras which take analogue photographs, which use film, which have to be handled with due care and attention and only manage thirty-six images? There most certainly are, and plenty of film is still being produced for those going back to their roots, as it were, not just 35mm but also 120mm and plates. Many professional photographers, I am told, tend to use digital for planning and getting their ideas together, and film for the real work. And how do you get hold of these ancient photographic machines?

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