Posts Tagged history

Sunday Column (513)

Berlin. Taking the family to Berlin for half term would always be an adventure. A 7 and a 9 year old on a city trip with lots of history? This wasn’t to meet family, it was about showing my family a Germany away from the grand parents, it was to experience Berlin and a couple days in Hamburg. So before we set off, we talked about German history, about the war and how this resulted in Germany being split in four parts; and it resulted in Berlin being split in four parts.

For me, Berlin has always been the capital. From Prussia to the modern ages. I never, probably similar to most Germans, saw Bonn as a real capital city. Berlin just has this charm, this feeling of being able to host big statesmen and to have the space to parade in front of presidents. It is that flair and history that attracts me to Berlin. However, and I want to be as honest as I can be, yet not being rude, Berlin in parts looks tired. My sons pointed out the massive amounts of graffiti and when you started to look under the hood, what we saw at least, was a Berlin that is a bit run down.

I guess, given it’s size, there are different areas. When visiting friends of ours one night, we loved the big side streets, high ceiling flats and quality of living. Our AirBnB on the other hand was in an area which seemed a bit less upmarket, yet had a flair, which at least I love about Berlin. The multi cultural aspect you don’t find in every city around the world: openness, togetherness, community.

So we did what you do with two little ones on a city tour. We visited the main attractions like Reichstag and Brandenburg Gate. We looked at famous squares, hopped on a tourist bus and went for walks in the park, finding some play grounds. We met friends, caught up over locally made pizza, gyros, ouzo and wine. We went up the TV Tower for the sunset and had a drink at the bar, taking in the view. We met with extended family, school and university friends, as well as having a night in whilst autumn weather was blowing the rain outside. We just enjoyed ourselves with no agenda, made our own chocolate, went for our runs, watched TV, went on a boat tour and visited a planetarium. And above all, we had a lot of fun as a family. Thank you Berlin.

On Thursday came the highlight. Something I wanted to do for a long time. We went to Hamburg on an early morning train to see the Miniature world, a model of the world out of minituare trains, planes, cars and everything that belongs to it. It was mind blowing. 3.5 hours of miniature world watching. And, we managed to have a look around Hamburg, a harbour boat tour again getting close to big container ships. For me, Hamburg is a city that portraits itself so differently to Berlin, and we enjoyed our time there very much. It might have been that it is smaller, more affluent, or that the shower in the hotel just gave much more comfort than the one in the AirBNB. But in the end, Hamburg as a city, won over Berlin, it just impressed more.

Now back to reality, back to work.

Have a great start in the week, it got colder out there.
Volker

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Sunday Column (506)

This week I listened to a podcast called. Transcende hosted by Jeff Riddle who I got introduced to a while back. Jeff and I had a good phone chat the other day discussing the way you can structure podcasts and exchanged some notes on learning around podcasts. Anyway, I listened to his episode this week. It was about finding peace with your parents and upbringing. I have gone through that, and won’t go into details here, but in life we make a lot of assumptions on what others think, and what is right or wrong, and how things are perceived. As I mentioned last week, the best advice I got in ages was to ‘not worry and live in the moment’ – have you tried it? It gives you almost a new perspective on life. Most of our thoughts and assumptions are, naturally, based on our perception and digestion of what we learn from our upbringing, with our parents being the biggest influence in life. It makes me think whether I have a good influence on mine….

The reason I share that is because I got a few comments from my post last week, wanting to constantly better myself. I do. Yet, I also enjoy just being somewhere, being in the moment and enjoy what I have. I don’t think one must exclude the other. There are clear tasks I want to achieve today, and there are others I want to achieve tomorrow. I seek to understand those, prioritise and work accordingly. Personally, I believe by putting the puzzle pieces together in the right order, and that includes your history, influences and future aspirations, life becomes the flow it should be. Giving you the confidence you need. I also believe that you need someone to help you with that, a coach, mentor or partner. Whatever it might be, but that must be the aim for high achievers. Would you agree?

There was another time of reflection this week. I was running before work, trying to keep up some interval trainings. It hit me unexpectedly, my thoughts went back to our holidays. It was warm, nothing to worry about, nothing to plan, just go with the flow. A mind and attitude flow that I haven’t experienced in a long time. Maybe it was because it was so much warmer, or it was a lot more different to home, but other holidays never gave me that relaxation and the feeling of being so close to my family. This year was so different, in a very good way. So I looked back at my holidays and for the first time in many years would have loved to stop the time. That’s how much I enjoyed it. Time to book the next one. Giving the kids are getting older, the holidays are more enjoyable too. It makes a difference to them.

It’s those moments you need to keep sacred. Last week I spoke about clearing out the now, the past, but cherishing the moments in your heart that you want to remember, not the ones that drag you down or back to a history long gone. All that whilst living in the now and being there with whoever you want to be with in the moment. It’s another balancing of things.

And then the decision was made. Marathon. That’s all I say. There is a chance and hope that I might get into the London marathon, as my podcast listeners would know. So I started training a bit beyond my usual 10K runs. I started running outside. At time of publishing I should have finished my third half marathon distance and I am on my way to run 18 miles (28K) next weekend. If all goes well, given I am travelling a fair bit over the next few months, I should run a marathon early November. Fingers crossed. The entry fee is paid 🙂

That’s all folks. Let me know if you like the mix of topical and private thoughts and what else you would like to see on the blog. As you can see I have a lot of podcast related, success related posts until end of the year on this blog. I also want to change my podcast concept next year. I also want to be sure to have focus on the things that matter. My job for instance which I really enjoy, a mix of operational and commercial, just right, dealing with lots of interesting and smart people. Is life falling into place? I think so. I am very content, and as my podcast guest this week said, success means contentment, means happiness. Yes, I am happy.

Love and kindness from my corner of the world,
Volker

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Sunday Column (411)

trump

When a week starts with little sleep, you know it is going to be a long one. Hey ho, no surprise then. Additional to little or bad sleep came a virus. Nothing serious but I caught myself drifting away in meetings and just falling asleep. I felt knackered all week but surprisingly pulled through. Tough lad 😉 I couldn’t stop exercising, needed my daily early morning fix. To top a Monday after a busy weekend, we had a trespasser on the line and it took me 3 hours to get home at night. Some kid wanted to go on YouTube and ran on the tracks. WTF? To not miss my appointment with the embassy, I was worried and panicking about trains on Tuesday morning. But I made it and soon I have a German ID card. Why? See below. And I wondered then, whether this week could be any more eventful…

The non reliability of train services is something I am fighting since I moved to Hassocks. The challenge of not knowing whether you make it home or when. The “no control” of what’s happening and the “no information” drives me potty. Our old place, Beckenham would have been a 60 GBP taxi ride, this could have been done. Hassocks is more like double that. So far I always managed to get home and that’s the main thing. Having said that, I shouldn’t jinx it, but I am sure it is fine. One day the train companies won’t strike, the company will understand the needs of their customers and so on….anyway. I am learning to not get annoyed about it and accept it. Not always easy though. Yet whenever there is a delay, plans and meetings need to be re-arranged and cancelled. This shines a bad light on me. But I made it home every night. Not like others. The news about the tram accident hit me this week, how awful. Too well do I know that bit of the tracks, having lived in Beckenham and used the tram regularly.

Coming back to trains for a minutes. I am not accountable for Southern’s f* ups but I am responsible for my own work. I worked on the train Monday night, got a seat (commuter experience I suppose and a bit of luck) and got a lot done. There is a silver lining. You trade that with no dinner, not seeing the kids and an early start the next day. Another bad night sleep, it was a few times my youngest woke me this week due to nightmares or needing the loo. Thanks R, anytime 😉 At least it is not our new mattress which I believe is great: less back pain unless I sleep beyond 8 hours, which doesn’t happen very often. I can live with 6 hours sleep but would prefer a good 7 hours now and then. Never mind, avoiding alcohol and eating little keeps me focused and productive. I like to think so anyway. My exercise on top and energy is flowing. I am winning first thing in the morning, so how can Southern take that away from me? They can’t and won’t. I resent them. I am not even hating them, they are just not worth my time. So I stop writing about them, shall I 🙂

delay

I haven’t shared my thoughts about the new Macbook yet. My watch is great, an expensive fitness tracker with some nice features. Exactly what I wanted and I am enjoying it. Then I am debating to get a new Macbook. But the tiny one is not very powerful, yet enough for what I do. The Pro is nice but not necessary, too powerful almost but has this nice bar. Is it really useful so? I bet it is but not for me. So balancing that it comes down to my tax return next year and timing. Maybe the Macbook Air gets a facelift in Q1 and I get a new version then. Or they stop productions it. We shall see. But nothing out there that excites me but our new stove fan, which essentially just circulates hot air. However this is useful if your wood burner is buried in a hole in the wall like ours. So that was a good investment. Speaking of which I had to buy a new rucksack for work. My current one, after the first one broke within warranty, broke again. This time outside warranty. I opted for a cheaper version, why buy the same again if I anticipate it not lasting longer than 18 months. Bad quality, overpriced. Amazon review is not pretty.

Just when I thought I covered the week and wanted to congratulate the first female president of the United States….I was equally shocked to when I woke up and saw the results as when I woke up and saw the Brexit results. Donald Trump winning the election. Is that the dawn of a 4th Reich? Will he be as bad as people make him out to be. Surely not, one would hope. But we said that before. I am scared a bit. Markets are down. Brexit. Now Trump. What has the world come to? An article I shared on Facebook points out what we have been seeing for a while, something I strongly believe in. As we humans going through phases in our life, following patterns, so do nations, so does the world. Up and down. From liberal to radical and back. As if each generation needs to re-learn what we just been through. As if we cannot learn from the past. And some don’t. The article I read can be found History and Brexit and Trump:

Challenges for people seem to be the following:

1. They are only looking at the present, not the past or future
2. They are only looking immediately around them, not at how events connect globally
3. Most people don’t read, think, challenge, or hear opposing views

Isn’t that scary. And analysis shows it isn’t really the blue collar, low income class that voted for Trump. We cannot pin it down to intellect, probably American working class has a lot more common sense! Adolf is long out of most people’s mind. Most Americans (no generalisation intended, but I remember conversations when I lived in the states…) won’t even know about the 3rd Reich, or even think that’s just something in history that happened. And it did. But how could they learn from it given the distance they had to it. They are too far away, even Europeans have difficulties remembering it, which is even worse. I am scared. I am afraid that the things that changed in this world and made this world a better place come to an end. The fall of the Berlin wall. The end of the wars. Stabilisation in the Middle East. Peace across the world, or the majority of it.

history

When I grew up I was dreaming of things based on what I knew. I now know things have changed. Technology has advanced. I dreamed of having two phones, one downstairs and one upstairs, to make private calls. I had no idea that I wouldn’t have a landline today. We cannot anticipate that things stay the same, so maybe change is good. We must be hopeful and we must believe in better. Look forward as Tim Cook said, moving forward together. That the human kind, which is a surviving kind, will pull through and will ensure us surviving and creating a better world. It strengthen my belief that it is down to us to make things happen, take massive action, to educate and to explain this to our children. We have to take on the challenge and responsibility for generations to come. I tried speaking to my 5 year old on Wednesday morning, and he asked if the world cracks when the “bad man” wins. I kissed him and said that love will always win, and that the world won’t fall apart and that we humans are a surviving species. And here is another dad trying to explain things to his daughters. And from one dad to another, let’s hope our children understand and never differentiate people on the basis of gender, race, religion, belief or origin. Never again. Aaron Sorkin’s letter is Vanityfair.

I am putting in for a British citizenship, hence needed the ID card. I am hoping to create a better future for my children. I want to stay in the country I love. That is what I am hoping for. What I cannot control is people and people’s decisions. Or maybe I can. I guess anyone reading this post will be influenced by my thoughts. Maybe I should go more public trying toI will continue to observe this thought.

We could discuss life purpose and all, but I guess that’s for another time. This post is a lot longer than anticipated. But what a week? Most people will get on with their daily life, go to work, do what they always done and end up shrugging their shoulders, thinking Trump is only in America, far away. We cannot do that and make the same mistake that in my view the Americans have done in the 2nd world war. We cannot wait until late to get involved. We must be aware and step in soon enough to stop anything awful happening. That is what scares me.

I am not someone for praying and above shows there can not be any evidence to do so. Yet I would suggest us all to pray, to gather and hope for the world to turn better again. And hopefully it will, one day anyway. We must believe in the love and the good in people and help educate the world. I fear to answer to my children in a few years time, and I cannot not be accountable for this world going to shambles. We must take responsibility for our nation and world. Everyone together, baby steps, and forward together.

Before I ramble on, I better stop. I am sad, not even angry. 9/11 passed this week. 11/11 passed this week. Lets not forget.
It’s the end of the world as we know it. Times are changing. Let’s hope and action for the better.

God bless America. God bless the world.
Volker

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Sunday Column (81)

81 weeks ago I started my Sunday Column. Ideas, thoughts and general blurb from Volker Ballueder about all sort of things. It developed a bit into a “only column” as I got too busy keeping up to write a daily or bi-weekly post.

Anyway, yesterday was 9/11. Now, as for many people, it is like it was yesterday that I heard about it. Sitting in a friends old Peugeot, he gave me a lift back from my pre-university maths course in Aberdeen, both of us entering the 3rd year, when the music in the radio stopped with the breaking news. I had been in the UK for less than a month. It was raining, cold and grey. And 9-11 had just happened.

If you followed some of the news over the last few weeks, then you wonder. You wonder why a pastor in Florida wants to burn the Koran. Why would he? If he is a man of faith, as his title suggests, then he should be able to forgive. He should be able to foresee the consequences his action might have. Was it all a media stunt?

If I say forgive, then I don’t mean “to not care” but in the Buddhist believe, in my interpretation, you close a chapter, accept the fact and try to make the world a better place. And I believe that is what most Americans have done. If I say “embracing Islam” I don’t necessarily mean that in a literal way, but I believe that more Americans know today what Islam is about compare to 9 years ago. And, if you followed the discussion about the Moshe they want to build close to Ground Zero, then you could clearly argue that this is to honour not only the Christians, Hindus, Buddhists and Mormons that died in 9-11 but also the Islamic people that died.

I am not religious, I am a Buddhist. I am not political. At least not more than anyone else. Everyone has a right to have their own believes, values and passions. For some they are wrong in most people’s eyes, e.g. terrorists. Of course. But just because some fundamentalist claim that they did it in the name of their god, doesn’t mean that everyone believing in this god is a terrorist. Come on, a child understands that. A nation as great as America which overcame the discrimination of black people, understanding that they are not 2nd class citizens (sorry Mitch, I am sure you read that), should surely understand to not blame someone because of the colour of the skin, or religious belief, or origin……

Now, enough about 9-11. I am not American, but I feel very strong for them, as I lived in this country. Having lived there, I understand their belief and them being proud of their country. An amazing country, and they should be proud. I never forget buying that T-Shirt in D.C. off a Vietnam Veteran. It had an American flag on it and read “It is an American thing, we should all understand” – relating to the Vietnam war.

In my life in the UK there hasn’t been many developments. I worked a lot last week, and was very exhausted on Friday. I hardly saw the boy which is a shame. My MIL is still here and her boyfriend will come next week. So it will be busy with family and work. My wife is feeling better and the specialist says she is going to be ok for a while, so that my MIL will be leaving the end of next week. She is a great help and we enjoy her being around. However, I also looking forward to having our own life back too.

Now, I enjoyed the weekend, spending lots of time with Colin, not working at all. That was great. My wife and MIL went out on Saturday night so I had a whole Saturday night to work on some stuff I wanted to do for ages.

See you next week.
Volker

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reflection on tradition

Tradition, they say, is not about preserving the ashes. It is all about keeping the flame burning.

candle

I am a member of a German Fraternity, Corps Franconia. We fence and accept any member, no matter which political, religious or ethical background that person is. I loved being an active member and also joined the London meetings. As an alumni I support the younger generation. It works like a pension system – just that it really works. When I was younger I got cheap beers and accommodation and now the younger generation does.

Anyhow, the reason for posting here are thoughts I have as a new daddy. We named our son Colin after my wife’s late brother and Heinrich after my granddad. These names have both history and Heinrich even tradition within our family. It was important for me to give my son a name that is related to both our family histories.

My wife and I want to teach our son where his names are coming from and what they mean to us and hopefully what they might mean to him. You might think of Hellinger and any pressure we might put him under. But we don’t want to put any pressure on him at all. At the end of the day it is his decision what he wants to do with his history and whether he likes to carry on the tradition, maybe naming his children after his granddad or dad 🙂 We just want him to be connected to his roots. A Scottish-German boy, born in England. His god parents are German, Scottish, English-Turkish and Kenian-Indian. We love to give him the influence of the country we live in.

At his birth, without asking, I assume we had about 10 nationalities. African, European, Asian…..and that is what makes London so great. However, coming back to tradition, as said initially, it is not important to have a shrine and keep ashes of loved ones or of your family history in there. It is about passing the values on, family values in particular, keeping dreams and rituals alive in a society where all of those individual ones seem to be melted together.

I just hope that Colin will grow up with an understanding of his history and tradition and that he values the same things his families has done for years. To grow up to be a Clouston-Ballueder and to be the one that carries on with the tradition. There is a lot of hope on these small shoulders, but it is with love, support and no pressure whatsoever. I just wanted to write about, how proud I am of having this wee man and thank my wife!

If Colin reads that in a few years time, he might be laughing at his old man, however – just some personal thoughts 😉

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The Royal Family

After going to Leeds castle, I am more and more intrigued about the Royal Family and who fits in with whom.

Since HM Queen Elizabeth the 2nd, it is straight forward, e.g. you find all the information on this site: the Royal Family tree from Elizabeth II and Prince Philip.

On the website itself you find more information about the Royal Family. There were quite a few Kings and Queens related to the French Royalty. Very interesting, didn’t know that. Ok, we are going back a thousand years, but never the less 😉

From generation 14 the Scottish influence with Robert the Bruce seems to increase. And, you find a few German Royals being mentioned. I am not a historian and only wanted to see where Henry VIII comes into play and how it all worked from there. But, I have to say, it is interesting how the European Royals are all interconnected.

Henry VIII really accounted for 3 Queens/Kings, his children:

– MARY I (BLOODY MARY) , QUEEN OF ENGLAND (1553-1558)
– ELIZABETH I, QUEEN OF ENGLAND (1558-1603)
– EDWARD VI, KING OF ENGLAND (1547-1553)

Generation 23/24 brought the first King James VI of Scotland being King JAMES I of England, 1603.

The Germans from Hanover entered the British Royals with GEORGE I, KING OF GREAT BRITAIN AND IRELAND, (1714-1727). And, the famous VICTORIA, QUEEN OF GREAT BRITAIN AND IRELAND, (1837-1901) was married to a German also!

Wow, if I had more time I would like to examine all the connections and find out who fits in where and why. There are connections to all European Royal Families.

This timeline shows all the major developments for each Queen/King. Very interesting.

And, just if you ever wondered how the Union Jack came about….

union-jack

For all the gossip lovers, in the FAQ section you find this:

Is there a royal connection between Camilla’s family and the royal family?
In 1889 Camilla Parker-Bowles’s great-grandmother Alice Keppel was the mistress of Edward VII when he was Prince of Wales. Edward VII was the great-grandfather of Prince Charles the current Prince of Wales.

And, if you are interested how hemophilia came into the Royal Family, check out this website 🙂

Enough of a history lesson for now…..

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A day in History

Hello,

Today’s day does mark an interesting mix of stories in my BBC News Alerts.

Here we go:

In 1941 Germany and Italy declared war on the US. Now that is history, luckily.

Present is that Germany and the UK fight about recession counter measures.

Future is the gender of our baby which we found out yesterday but are only 90-95 percent sure. We accept bets and guesses 🙂

So, that is what I call a day in history.

Have a good one.

Volker

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