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“This is a great book, if what you want is action, suspense, humor, and character development.”

Comments by the authorStrong, quick acting Alan is a scientist, traveling for business… but things do not turn out as predicted. One of my goals as the author was to raise awareness of just how vulnerable we are to a pandemic in the developed world.  I also wanted to show how a single person can cope with being a lone survivor. You will need to be able to rely on your own moral fiber, on your physical strength and on your willpower. We’ve gone long without a major pandemic that kills millions. On the other hand, outbreaks of viruses such as SARS, coronavirus or influenza (e.g. H2N2 or the Asian Flu H3N2; or bird flu) have occurred again and again. Let’s face it, if we knew, we’d be even more frightened; with the huge global population, the possibility that a pandemic strikes and spreads quickly isn’t that remote. In my books, I want you caring about the character as well as the world. Action occurs, and contact is made with beings on alien “ships”, however the book – on purpose – does not answer all questions. After all, in case of a pandemic, with a breakdown of communication and internet and so on, there will be more questions than answers. Imagine the world falling apart while this plague decimates the entire population. You will enjoy this ride with the hero Alan, as he races across Asia towards what was Western Europe.”

 

Find out about Clemens P. Suter books here: www.clemenssuter.com/books

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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.

 

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.

A visit to the ossuary of the church San Bernardino alle Ossa in Milan, Italy

It is the attempt that counts. A piece of art, on the verge of the macabre.  San Bernardino alle Ossa (Saint Bernhard of the Bones) is a church in Milan, not to far from the Cathedral of Milano, by itself an inconspicuous building. This church is best known for its ossuary (a skull and bones collection) in  a small side chapel.

In 1200s, the local cemetery ran out of space, I am not sure why, but one guess could be that famine struck northern Italy. A room was built next to the church to hold bones to tackle that problem. After all, you cant simply throw corpses in the river or burn them, can you? The result is a haunting, octagonal room, with hundreds of skulls stacked to the ceiling. As the church suffered from some catastrophes, and needed to be rebuild a couple of times, this work of art is in actuality much younger.

What struck me during my visit was the perfect symmetry with which the bones and skulls are stacked. The creators invested a lot of time to get it right and to make it esthetically halfway acceptable (if you go for that kind of thing). What I also wondered was how they separated the flesh from the bones. Were these people first buried, and the skeletons dug-up later? A human body may take about 1-2 years to be free of flesh, depending on its location, e.g. a body in a field will decompose much faster than a buried human (see my novel Two Journeys for more grisly details).

The skulls were all small, much smaller than the ones I saw in anatomy class. I suspect that most belonged to children, as only few seemed to be adult-size. An alternative explanation would be that these people were very small – perhaps it was indeed a famine? One or two skulls had impressive deformities; elongations at the back.

Below some of the impressions from our travels. Click on any of the pictures below to enlarge.

Skull and Bones San Bernardino alle Ossa – Stacked Skulls in the Ossuary
A scary sight: these stacked skulls and bones. Isn’t that Mario on the left?

 

Stack ’em ! Quite artistically done, yet still macabre. You’ve seen one ossuary, you’ve seen them all.

A nightly walk through Doha, Qatar #Travel #Reporting #ArabianNights

View of the amazing skyline of Doha, Qatar. On the left the Corniche, on the right the Persian Gulf. How exotic can it get?

Doha skyline

Doha Qatar – skyline

Below: a section of the Doha  souk where traders specialize in selling pets, birds, dogs, cats, tropical fish…  you name it. Exotic ones too, like this parrot. Nice fluffy kittens and puppies, most very passive or sleeping. Personally I couldn’t buy anything here, I felt pity for most of the poor animals. The health of these animals is doubtful too, many cats and dogs are bread under terrible conditions, like in mass production. I am not sure the government in Qatar controls this in any way. Interestingly, few pets are actually visible in the streets: no dogs definitely, and the cats that roam about are all obviously wild outcasts, and ignored.

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Another part of the souk of Doha. Like most areas in Doha, this is a modern, new area, so not overtly exotic. For this needs getting used to; I love old buildings. The shops are specially interesting for tourists that like to purchase gold jewelry, I’ve heard that it is possible to make a good deal. Dozens of jewelry stores. Many pleasant restaurants line the pavement… as a special service to the clientele, air conditioners (those big grey boxes visible in the picture) are put on the pavement (outside!) to blow cold air at the diners. Now, that’s exotic. People in Qatar have few worries about CO2 – energy is free, there are hardly any trees in the country, and it is already hot and human, so what negative effect could climate change have in addition?