Sunday, March 25, 2007

Odds and ends

I note with amusement that this blog currently holds first and second place on Google for "Blessed Willibald," even outranking the Wikipedia. Oh, the pressure of fame! (Closes eyes, places back of hand against forehead; recollects that this is typically a woman's gesture and hastily squeezes bridge of nose instead.)

Since you asked: Willibald was an Englishman of Saxon descent, one of three children of Richard of Wessex (and thus nephew to Saint Bonifatius) who were inspired by religious zeal during pilgrimages to the Holy Land. Willibald became a missionary and was appointed the first bishop of Eichstatt in Bavaria, and founded the abbey at Heidenheim where he in turn appointed his brother Wunibald and sister Walburga as Abbot and Abbess. All three were canonized. It's odd to think that Germany was pagan as recently as 1200 years ago (twenty-four grandfathers), and that Christianity and Islam were struggling to establish themselves during the same period.

So, it's Sunday, a sunny day. I am drinking coffee and listening to Benjamin Britten's 1945 opera Peter Grimes, an oddly ambiguous but very grim tale. It's hard to say what the opera is about: "intolerance" and "inarticulacy" are probably the simplest short answers, though that does the work an injustice. There isn't a villain as such, unless it's Grimes himself; the facts are clear but not their meaning, effects with unknown cause. The music is typical of Britten, in a style that sixty years later sounds self-consciously "moderne" and quite dated (reminds me of Charles Simmons' aphorism that "an 'experimental author' is one whose experiment has failed"); however in contrast to Britten's later opera "Billy Budd" it does contain traditional harmonies and progressions of notes and even one or two genuine tunes that one might hum on the way home from the performance. Give it a try; and if you do, listen with an open mind three or four times before deciding, because it is an acquired taste worth acquiring.

I spent two hours today writing an estimate on importing a customer's data, and came to the conclusion that the customer doesn't know her own data (and therefore that I cannot estimate the price). The excerpted information (as Excel tables) doesn't match her description, and seems to refer to other data sources that she doesn't mention. Bah.

I have been thinking about the Camino Way and what walking it will mean. The first thing that occurs to me is that I will be away from the keyboard for three weeks: no e-mail (hooray) but also no blogging (boo). How will I survive three weeks without hearing from you? How on Earth will you survive three weeks without my humour, wit and charm? (How many of you would return to reading this blog in June when I return to writing it?) I really don't know what to do about this. I shall of course write, I've got my Moleskine and will make copious notes, but that doesn't alter my probable three-week-long silence.

A larger problem is the assigning of license numbers for any new customers who happen to choose those three weeks to buy a copy of the database. That only I can generate license numbers is what keeps my nameless partner honest; not that he would sell copies and keep the profits, but that he cannot give away free licenses without my consent. Were he able to generate numbers, he'd issue free licenses by the hundreds.

This needs thought.

Ageing Yuppie has given up his Stuttgart apartment and is moving to the college town Oop Noorth (where they taawk foonnah). It's a sensible decision since his contract has another three years to run (and he is certain to get tenure if he keeps his hands off the students, which is not certain), and he has been in Stuttgart for perhaps ten weeks in total during the last two years. There was a farewell dinner on Friday evening that went on until 2am on Saturday; the staff kindly didn't throw us out but waited for us to finish in good order. The usual suspects were there: Famous Sculptor and Famous Photographer, B, Princess, Beauty, the Dentist, G and U, and your 'umble narrator, to name only those who have appeared in this blog (or are about to).

We are all getting old(er), grey and/or sparse hair is the norm in the group now, but ageing sometimes has odd effects. The woman I call Beauty, though not to her face, is one of the most beautiful women in Stuttgart, and also a lovely, charming person. She will turn forty in August, and the behind-her-back consensus at the table is that she is even prettier now than she was in her early thirties. It's called "maturing well" and by God she's good at it.

The Dentist is a real character, he and his wife Giselle are bon vivants in the slightly old-fashioned sense that the phrase now carries. Since he retired two years ago, they travel around the world having fun—they discovered the apartment where we now stay in Venice; returning home now and then to throw extravagant parties. We talked for an hour about the Camino way and what it means to undertake such a journey on foot.

The end of an era, as they say. AY has been the centre of all this, the hub that holds the spokes together, the alpha wolf whose howling summons the pack; I hope that the group will continue to meet without him to motivate us.

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Blogger Pacian said...

How will I survive three weeks without hearing from you?

I expect you will shrivel up into a hollow shell of your former self.

It is a shame.

March 25, 2007 at 7:26:00 p.m. GMT+2  
Blogger zhoen said...

Trust the RSS, amen.

As for your business issue, I got nothin'.

March 25, 2007 at 9:27:00 p.m. GMT+2  
Blogger Jean said...

I'm sure you will pass some internet cafes, if you feel like blogging. On the other hand, much to be said for getting away from the screen every now and then.

I'm working myself up to blogging about the Camino. I have so much to say about it, and all of it so profound, and so unsayable... maybe I can't.

By the way (assuming my irritable pedant persona) you do know that calling it the Camino Way is like calling it the Weg Way? kind of odd?

March 26, 2007 at 1:12:00 p.m. GMT+2  
Blogger Udge said...

Jean, I'd like to hear of your experiences. The oddity of the name is clear, now that you mention it; I'd adopted it unexamined from the promotional bumpf sent out by the travel agency. Mea culpa.

March 26, 2007 at 2:39:00 p.m. GMT+2  
Blogger CarpeDM said...

Yes! Info on Willibald! I love it. Saves me the trouble of having to look it up myself. Hey. My excuse that it is (insert lots of creative swear words here) getting to the last few weeks of tax season and I have a tenuous grasp on my sanity, let alone research time.

As for your leaving for 3 weeks, well, that's just unfortunate that you will be away from my charm. Sorry. No, no, don't cry, Udge. You'll survive.

Do you think you will see El Caminos on the Camino Way? Because that would be awesome.

March 26, 2007 at 4:22:00 p.m. GMT+2  
Blogger JoeinVegas said...

Sounds like you have a nice group of friends. And somebody to look at while gathering.
Can't you take some type of Blackberry device, and keep typing? But that would kind of reduce the pleasure if a quite time.

March 26, 2007 at 5:13:00 p.m. GMT+2  
Blogger Geosomin said...

"...came to the conclusion that the customer doesn't know her own data (and therefore that I cannot estimate the price). The excerpted information (as Excel tables) doesn't match her description, and seems to refer to other data sources that she doesn't mention."

Heh..sounds like you're working in scientific research! She probably is like my bosses who had someone else do all the work and is trying to pretend they did it or that they know what the work is all about :)

March 27, 2007 at 4:31:00 p.m. GMT+2  

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