For the sake of the environment. #Newspudding

International business travelers and tourists  will recognize  the sign below: this can be found in hotel rooms all over the world, be it in the high-end resorts on the coast of Hawaii or in the low-end shacks behind the city station:

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This sign literally drips with hypocrisy – more than the wet towel with which you just dried your booty after taking a hot shower to get rid of the travel dirt. It is oozes dickheadery. This sign has NOTHING to do with worries about the environment. In fact, the text should simply tell the TRUTH:

”Hello,and welcome to our hotel. This is to inform you that we do not care at all about the environment. What we do care about is our profit margin. Laundering the towel with which you have dried your face and private parts costs us money. Imagine thousands of dirty towels each day, how many people it takes to get those clean; people that we would rather send into early retirement. In the past we hesitated to put this message on a sign, hehehe. We were betting that YOU do worry about the environment, and that you would take such a reference seriously. And that you were fully prepared to dry yourself with a dirty towel for the next four days of your stay, even if you suffer from our exquisite local diarrhea or the anus seepage that you brought along from home. THANK YOU for caring about our profit margin.”

Or how about this?

“We do not think that it matters at all whether we clean your towel every day – the environment is screwed up as it is. You get a clean towel every day whether you want it or not.  No use hiding your dirty towel in your suitcase, we will find it. We rummage through our guest’s luggage during our daily “security” check. So stop your whining and suck it up.”

More travel posts.

 

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Quiz time! Can you guess which famous leader used to live here? He must be turning in his grave.

Today a Chinese restaurant (“Peking Duck”), but once upon a time a very infamous man had his residence and offices behind these doors. Can you guess who?

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The truth behind the duck:  Mr. Mengling Tang from China is the owner of a Chinese eatery in the Voßstraße in Berlin, exactly on the spot of the entrance to Adolf Hitler’s “Neue Reichskanzlei” – the new chancellery. The building didn’t survive the ravages of war, within a few years after completion, the home of the brutal, and weirdly mustachioed dictator was destroyed by allied bombs. Adolf probably wouldn’t have clenched his little fists with pleasure, if he would have known about the re-purposing of the spot where his ugly government building (designed by his favorite architect Albert Speer) once stood. But then again, maybes he is, in purgatory?

Interested to learn where Adolf Hitler ended up, after his suicide? Get a copy of my novel CELETERRA, to find out more.

How to get to Betelgeuse. Turn right on your way from Monoceros to Alzirr. #Newspudding

Always wondered how to find Betelgeuse?  The picture below will elucidate the location of this gigantic star.

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Betelgeuse is also called α Orionis. Betelgeuse originates of the Arab yad al-ǧauzā, the hand of the giantess, sometimes also referred to as the shoulder star of Orion.

Why is Betelgeuse intriguing?

Betelgeuse is a giant star and is classified as a red super-giant. It has about a thousand times the diameter of our sun and has about ten thousand times as much luminosity, as a result of which Betelgeuse can easily be seen in the night sky, as it is the tenth brightest star. This star is of great astronomical interest. Its radius was the first to be determined by interferometry and it varies by about 15%. As a result, also Betelgeuse’s brightness varies a factor between +0.3 and + 0.6. This is one of the very few stars that are visible from Earth as a surface, not just a point in the sky. Most likely this star is an amazing 500 light years away!

In the opinion of astronomers, Betelgeuze will end up as a supernova (read this Guardian article from 2020). Opinions vary when this event will take place: it could happen within the next thousand or one hundred thousand years. The resulting supernova will be easily visible and will shine over the entire firmament. With a red giant of this type you can expect a 16,000-fold increase in the luminosity. This supernova could reach the brightness of the full moon. Luckily enough, the axis of rotation of the star does not point towards the Earth, and the gamma-ray flash would not be so strong that it would affect the Earth’s biosphere. Now, THAT would be a post-apocalyptic experience ! The remnant of this supernova is expected to be a neutron star with a mass 20-times that of the sun.

More newspudding articles here: https://clemenssuter.com/?s=newspudding

Black Hole Detected on Edge of Milky Way. The Dutch Postal System. #NederlandsePost #PostNL #PTT #Brief

My first experience with the cross-border mail delivery capabilities of the Dutch postal system date back thirty years. I had just moved to Germany, and Dutch friends sent me a gift. The box arrived, but the contents had been removed through a gaping hole in the side. This observation of the damage had been written on the package by a German postal worker at a delivery center on the border. I filed a complaint, with no effect. This was my first encounter with the consistently malfunctioning Dutch postal system, a country that is generally perceived as modern and well-functioning on many other fronts.

Years went by, during which family, friends and I continued to attempt to exchange holiday and birthday gifts across the German / Dutch border. Occasionally my parents sent money hidden in Christmas cards. Although sending money by post within Germany or from Germany to any other country is tricky business (thieves seem to have “magical machines” to detect money hidden in envelopes), no envelope with money ever managed to arrive if sent from the Netherlands. Surprisingly, Christmas cards without money sent at the same time did arrive, although always late. In fact, any letter or package consistently arrived with surprising delays, but also damaged… or not at all.

Not surprisingly, expat friends and I became very weary of the Dutch postal service. Years went by, during which I refused to send any package to and from the Netherlands. In contrast, delivery within Germany or to other countries remained as reliable as ever.

Ultimately, complacency would overcome my concerns, so after a while I would again try to send an occasional birthday present to a Dutch acquaintance. I started to notice an additional worrying phenomenon. Whereas in Germany, the addressee of a package is also the owner of its contents, in the Netherlands it may happen that the initial recipient gains full ownership. So, if the mail delivery service leaves the package with a neighbor (e.g. because the addressee isn’t home), this neighbor may well store this package with disinterest under a pile of coats in the hallway. Then after many weeks, somebody (a child, or a pet) will open the package and eat the edible contents. This lackluster treatment of other people’s belongings, combined with a below par delivery service, has caused much frustration and disappointment over the years.

Now, some of you will say that I exaggerate, or have no hard evidence. Aha! Since two years, my two sons have moved from Germany; one to Belgium, the other to the Netherlands. Six months ago, I received election-related documents for them, which I sent on the same day to son 1&2. My sons had to sign a document, and return it to Germany. Then, from Germany the voting document was sent to each son, after which both could vote and return the ballot sheet. A complex procedure, that could not be done by email.

Now, a letter to and from Belgium takes about four days for delivery, and this son was able to vote well in time. My son in the Netherlands had no such luck. After all, a letter to and from the Netherlands takes 7, 9 or even 12 days. He missed the deadline miserably  and was unable to make use of his right to vote.

After this experience I swore that this was my very final interaction with the Dutch postal system. But my wife was still optimistic. In November, she packed two identical boxes with Christmas presents for both sons. My son in Belgium received the package after 7 days, around December 1st. Christmas came and went, and my son in the Netherlands is still waiting. The package could be traced up to the Dutch border, after which it entered the black hole of the Dutch postal system. Arrival pending.

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My books and stories are here.

Shenanigans at an international business training. I need a stronger coffee.

Due to illness a colleague couldn’t attend a training and passed the invite to me. I hurriedly packed my bags, and drove to the large hotel where the event (“competitive research”) was taking place. I really didn’t expect any shenanigans, but it was a menacing venue, a skyscraper with (no doubt) all amenities and an undersized pool in the cellar. I stormed into the building. Many participants were already on site, almost exclusively men in black business suits with vests. Very friendly men, who ignored my jeans, shirt and the absent tie, but whom involved me immediately in conversation. Yes, they were also attending the M.E. event, yes it was going to be an exciting day. I lined up in the long queue to get my training material, all the while feeling more and more out-of-place. Finally, the friendly ladies at the reception illuminated me; this queue was for the M.E. event “IT for Banking”. I was booked for the M.E. event in the next building, reachable by the connecting bridge. I sighed with relief and waved farewell to my new friends; I never realized that banking CIOs were such a friendly bunch. I hurried over the bridge and found the correct meeting room, where a dozen participants and the single presenter (all dressed in a similar fashion as I) were just getting ready to start. With mild interest they listened too my tale, of how I had confused the two meetings. One participant (a representative from pharma) was still missing, explained the presenter, but he suggested to kick off anyway (he had met him previously, he said). We did a quick round of introductions and expectation setting, the usual stuff. The presenter started off on a lengthy and very dry presentation. I longed for a coffee (which I had missed due to the hullabaloo).

Twenty minutes in, and a man threw open the door. He stared at us, and we stared back. Sweaty and red-faced, he clutched his briefcase to his chest and made for the single free chair. He sat down, directly opposite of me, got out a notepad and picked up one of the pens on the table. I found this curious, as there was a pen visible in the pocket of the vest that he wore beneath his black suit. I, and some of the other participants, looked at the presenter with question marks in our eyes. But the presenter, undeterred, just kept on rambling on. In fact, he increased volume and speed. The man started to fidget about. He looked at the presenter, then at us. He played with his necktie. He picked up a brochure from the table and flipped through it, his face getting redder and redder. The tension in the room rose to an unbearable, mortifying level, the presenter talking faster and faster, the banker realizing from the narrative that this was the wrong meeting altogether, that this was not “IT for Banking”. After several excruciating minutes, I bent forward and whispered “this is not IT for Banking”. The presenter paused and looked at me, angrily for the interruption. The banker jumped up, mumbled an apology, and ran from the room, the door banging shut behind him. Ten minutes on, and one of the participants noted drily: “He forgot his briefcase.” The presenter ignored the statement and moved to the next chapter.

read more here: www.clemenssuter.com/books

A Hotel Lobby. Don’t worry if you need to enter such a place (e.g. for an international business training): a small hat, self-made out of aluminum foil, offers sufficient protection.