Note: All threads are intended to remain active after the day they were created—just click on the right-pointing arrow at each month to see the threads created that month.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Word of the Month: Der Lückenbüßer

[A drawing is in the works--I'm late with this owing to my recent travels.]

A Lücke is a gap or narrow opening and a Büßer a penitent. However, the ~büßer part in Lückenbüßer derives from a now obsolete meaning of the verb büßen: To improve upon or correct something. So, a Lückenbüßer is someone who fills in for someone else without being really qualified for the job. The term is closely related to Notnagel, our word of the month for 9/2008, where the latter term is, possibly, a little less derogatory than our current word of the month.

Note that in spite of its outdated use of büßer, this compound noun is very much in use in present-day Germany.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Segeln in der Ägäis (Sailing in the Aegean): New Photobook

A photo diary (in German) of my recent trip, augmented by snippets of how we experienced the concurrent soccer World Cup. As always, hit the full screen button for the best view (although the photos may look grainy on some monitors).

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

FIFA World Cup 2014 in Brazil

I just arrived in Cologne and I'm looking forward to watching as many matches as possible with brothers and friends interested in and knowledgeable about soccer. As I did in the past, I'm creating this post to give friends on the Internet a chance to comment on and discuss matches and prospects with like-minded people.

However, I'll be leaving for Turkey tomorrow to go on a sailing trip until June 20 on my brother's boat, moored right now in Marmaris. I'm sure we'll have many opportunities to watch matches there, but I do not know how often I will be able to comment. I hope this will not deter any readers from putting their two cents in. To start things off, I'm posting an initial comment about the German team and the mood I perceive in the country.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Word of the Month: Die Jugendsünde

Here's a word that pops up frequently in German discussions about forgetting on the web, especially when it comes to social media. Jugend means "youth" and Sünde "sin." If you did something foolish in your youth and are embarrassed when you are reminded of it in later life, you may try to dismiss your trespass as a Jugendsünde, as something that should be ignored or forgiven in light of your age at the time. Examples may be a bad poem you published as a freshman in a student newspaper or a tasteless selfie you posted as a teenager on Instagram. Truly criminal acts can hardly ever be considered Jugendsünden (that's the plural).

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Word of the Month: Der Wackelkandidat

June 3 is the deadline for the managers of the 32 national teams qualified for this year’s soccer World Cup in Brazil to name the 23 players that will represent their country during the competition. At this late stage in the preparations, most of those players are typically known, but a few are still Wackelkandidaten. Wackeln means "to totter" or "to shake," and a Wackelkandidat (that's the singular) is a “shaky candidate,” someone who is in the running for an office or position and has a chance to win, but whose success is by no means guaranteed.

As far as the German World Cup team is concerned, most experts agree that about 19-20 players “have the ticket” for Brazil as of now—the rest will come from a pool of ca. 7-8 Wackelkandidaten, and their fate is being passionately discussed by fans and in the media.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Animal Portraits

My third self-published book, Animal Portraits, presents a collection of animal photos. But unlike a field guide or a zoology book, the collection does not try to help readers identify the species to which an animal belongs by showing as many characteristic features as possible. Instead, the photos should be seen as portraits in the way we view portraits of people, as representations of individuals capable of feelings and possessed of an inner life.

As someone who has owned and loves pets, I have no doubt that animals have feelings and distinct personalities. I hope that at least some of my pictures convey this sense also to the reader, and I do not apologize for any anthropomorhism someone may detect in my approach: There is a mounting body of research supporting what I have felt for a long time, and I hope my photos will encourage readers to think along the same lines.

Kindle editionPrint-on-demand paperback edition

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Word of the Month: Die Nestwärme

A Nest is a nest, and Wärme means "warmth." Put the two together and you get a word for the sense of safety and psychological comfort a family provides, especially for children (provided, of course, that the family is not dysfunctional). The term can also be used in a more general meaning to denote the comfort and sense of belonging a tightly-knit group may provide for its members.