Wednesday, August 29, 2007


I took a walk in the nearby forest yesterday. At some point, while I was enjoying nature around me, I thought "If I was mistress of this forest, if I owned it, I would be happy walking here all the time." Of course, a split second later I realized that how I feel while taking a walk is not related to whether I own the ground I walk on or not. I wonder why our first impulse is always to connect happiness with property, when usually it's the other way round. Owning property makes you afraid of losing it. On the other hand, you need to own enough to have a certain minimum living standard (which varies from person to person) to fulfil the basic human needs.
But since we're living in the Western world, I can assume that most people have more than they need. We could all do with less.
I'm guessing that it's a cultural thing. Buddhism seems to be strong on simplicity and non-attachment. As the article says, we're living in a culture that values property and urges people to consume. So we don't usually think in terms of getting rid of our property.
Later, when I came home in the evening, I discovered that about half of my internet bookmarks had somehow disappeared. I was annoyed at first, then wondered which bookmarks had actually gone - the ones I use on a daily basis were still there. It took me some time to remember that they were my reference bookmarks that I use occasionally to look something up (quite a lot for online shops, Fairtrade websites and living history pages). I was annoyed again, but then somehow relieved and ended up feeling quite positive. It's a bit like starting anew.
Of course, then I found a way to recover the bookmarks and was slightly disappointed at this failed opportunity. But I still remember that sense of relief I felt.
I'll take this as a sign to go through my cupboards, wardrobe and anything else and throw away what I don't need anymore. I used to do this every summer until two years ago. Time to start anew.



Wednesday, August 22, 2007


I came across this test in which you can try to distinguish fake smile from real ones. I got 19 out of 20 right, which surprised me. It's amazing how close you can get when you know what to look for.


This weekend was our traditional annual medieval fair in Golling. Unfortunately, our friends from Lower Austria with who we usually met up there didn't come, but it was a lot of fun nevertheless.
What I love about the fair in Golling is that it's surrounded by beautiful mountains and forests. Usually a part of the fair was held in the city and the majority just a little outside on a field and, after a short path through the forest, on a big clearing with a lake. This year the part from the city was moved beyond the lake on (again) a big field next to the forest. This enhanced the atmosphere even more. We took some time to just lie on the grass next to the lake and enjoyed the cool air that came from the forest. All in all it was a wonderful fair, lots of fun and I discovered a great music group.

The lake:

Christine and I in the new dresses we made. I also made my brother's trousers. Next I'm planning to make a complete outfit (including underdress) based on medieval drawings. Concerning that one, I want to try to push the authenticity level as much as possible concerning the cut.

Sunday, August 19, 2007


My first Kendo Seminar is over. It was an interesting and fun experience, and I learned a lot (although I only ever realize how much I actually learned when I look at the notes I took every day, which comprise two pages of small, squashed handwriting). While I didn't reach the limits of my bodily energy and felt it could have been more exhausting, I probably did reach the limits of my mental learning capacities with the nine Kihon-waza.
Interestingly enough, as the days went by I got gradually less sleep, which I didn't mind until the last day on which I was walking around like a zombie after midday and fell asleep when I came home. Allegedly you need less sleep when you exercise a lot. I'd believe it if I didn't know that I got up at 6am on Saturday because my brother had said that my strikes suck and I therefore wanted to be in the dojo a bit earlier to practice a bit.
On the one hand I'm sorry it's over, but on the other glad, because I got a few painful do strikes on the hip and a men on my fingers on the last day, and everybody's concentration wouldn't have increased, so such accidents might have happened more often. There's also this huge amount of experiences you get within a few days - I held a Iaido sword in my hands, learned nine Kihon-wazas and a Nihon-kata, consulted Google and YouTube more than ever, needed a tape for my feet for the first time, had my first exam and have now tons of stuff that I know I have to improve on - I'll need some time to process all of that.

Again, I can't help but to see the similarity to drawing. There's always room to improve, and especially as a beginner or amateur you feel overwhelmed and sometimes demotivated at this huge task ahead of you.


I finished Not on the Label today. The last chapter on The Ready Meal was very interesting and insightful, although only partly applicable for me, as I don't eat ready meals. The rest of the book was nice, too, but not as useful. The last chapter talked not only about ready meals, but also about the ingredients of yoghurts and how eating habits have changes through the decades (e.g. We now consume many more omega-6 fatty acids than omega-3 fatty acids. The ratio should be 1:1, but is now at 10:1 or even 20:1. The chapter also discussed how there may be a link between omega-3 fatty acids and a reduction of violence).

I also quite liked the afterword of the book:
"Food is one of life's great pleasures. Shopping for it, preparing it and eating it has bound people together for centuries. It is in eating together that we are socialized. In the end, it's about what kind of society we want."


A quick design I made for a roleplaying game:

Friday, August 10, 2007

Zen and Jedenspeigen

Kendo training on Thursday was great. Afterwards it felt as if endorphins rather than blood and water were flowing through my body. I again realized that I really have to work on my concentration. It seems to have deteriorated over the years, and I'm now much too easily distracted (causing me afterwards to do some research on the philosophy behind it. Wikipedia says it takes many years to be capable of mushin. I think that's an understatement).
I'm trying to apply what I learn from Kendo to drawing/painting. There are similarities. My arm and wrist are tensed up during Kendo; that's probably also what makes my sketches look so unappealing (apart from the anatomy mistakes). Maybe my grip on the pencil should be much more relaxed and not as tight as it is, so the end result won't look forced and I can pay more attention to the lineweight. I probably also should approach drawing more analytically - observe, notice patterns and causes for mistakes and eradicate them. You learn more effectively when you're aware of every step you take, because then you see when you take the wrong path.


I spent the weekend in Vienna, buying books and going to a medieval fair. I finished reading one book on the train and came back with five new books. The shelf next to my bed is now officially unable to take more books.
I started reading Not on the Label, which seems to be very similar to We Feed the World, only that it's specific to the British market. The author had a look at products from Sainsbury and Wal-Mart, talked to workers in Birmingham, etc. So in the end it will probably be not as useful to me as it could be, but I got it for 1€, so I won't complain. So far I found out that packaged salad is put into water with chlorine before being packaged, with a chlorine level twenty times higher than in swimming pools. Yummy. Another good reason for me to buy organic food.

The market in Jedenspeigen was nice, although I guess that was mostly because of the people I met there. Rhiannon played quite frequently, but apart from them the program didn't interest me that much. The market was also fairly small and took place on a field (the organizers had lots of hey put on the ground). The earth was extremely dry, there were lots of people, resulting in lots of dirt being whirled up and blown into our faces. I was regularly trying to get the dirt out from under my contact lenses. However, what I really liked about the market was that the people from the craft guild (Handwerksgilde) were there and gave you lengthy explanations when you asked about their work. I learned a lot from listening to them. They were also very friendly and approachable.

A very nice church that we came across while walking to the market. Lovely architecture.

One of the craft guild.

Two "knights" practicing their sword play. That was also a very nice visual image, those two silhouettes moving about in front of the sky.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Weiche, Satan

Finished this painting after what must have been almost a year. I had a looong break in between because I continually did some research on the topic (child abuse) and that dragged me down, so I didn't want to work on it anymore. Also because the topic is important to me, therefore I wanted the picture to be good and I invested more time in it than usually. Now I call it finished/abandoned, although there are several points I'm not happy with. Can't improve them with my current skills, so I need to improve my skills (with more sketches and paintings).


Here's something for the "Fantasy readers worship Satan" faction (who are probably not reading this blog):

While this is a topic that I'm not researching, it might have been my topic if my first noe had been rejected and I'm still moving on its borders (in an unplanned sort of way). I may be wrong, but my reading so far suggests otherwise. It seems that Fantasy was initially not written to fulfill all our devilish desires, to oppose the Pope and the Church and to lead unsuspecting children to black masses, so they try cursing each other with wands. Quite the contrary.
Tolkien may be the godfather of Fantasy, but the genre started earlier - that is, in my thesis period, the Victorian age. And it began with writers William Morris and George MacDonald, who were devoutly Christian (isn't that a surprise?). How did this happen? My semi-proved theory says that the Enlightenment caused people to become rational on the one hand, but on the other hand a group of people formed a counter-movement to rationality and fully delved into Victorian sentimentality. With the Enlightenment, people brutally found out that man is fallible and imperfect and that their Eden-esque ideal does not and cannot exist. Imagine how crushed they were. So the crushed people tried to hold up their ideal and their moral standards by writing books of morality. Either realistic novels in which the protagonist is some kind of emotional and social uber-human who is - despite what science had shown - perfect, or Fantasy novels that bring the protagonist into a different world (-> "Otherworld Fantasy"), which resembles Eden, where he/she experiences stuff that improves him/her morally and from whence he/she returns as an improved human being to spread the love.
(Sort of like going out to do a sport that challenges you physically and mentally and returning as a better person.)
So, there you go, book-burners! The original idea of Fantasy was not to make people worship Satan, but to turn them into good Christians. I'll just sit here and cringe for a bit as this insight fully fills my mind.