« September 2005 | Main | November 2005 »


Babel I come to bring you a Fish

littlebabel.jpgAnd The LORD said, "Lo! [they are] one people, and they all have one language, and this is what they have commenced to do. Now, will it not be withheld from them, all that they have planned to do? Come, let us descend and confuse their language, so that one will not understand the language of his companion".
Genesis 11:1-9

babelfishtest.jpg And then came the brilliant writer Douglas Adams (before the Americans could destroy Babel as an act of good) and reported to mankind that their where others who didnīt have gods but space ship with improbable propulsion and inter galactic highways that would need to pass through earth and that they have found a fish that is in contradiction with god and had god made disappear because its improbable for him to be existent. The fish so might be not a living animal but composed of some electrodes to be implanted into your mouth - not ear. They bring together mankind and their many different languages and therefore proof that god doesnīt exist.

What happy world will lie in front of us - if the Vogones wonīt get us before - but then god would exist...


HELLO !.. Vwb Evymrjvqibdunb

unknown.gifSpam these days - my filters work very good and it seems to get less in general judging my junkbox filled with only 15 mails over the last week - an all time low. At times so some spam filters through that is absolutely bizarre and I can not understand why someone is wasting time sending it in the first place. The best one since ages (right next to the one without content, subject or sender) is the one with the subject you see in the title. Apparently it comes from "dqjfwjzikgjffiaz@singapore.net". Now the only content it contained is the picture you see on the left. I did not alter it to any degree it came as you see it. Now someone tell me please what purpose this serves - that the sender is expecting me to go into photoshop and un-skew a unsolicited email? All I can read is that its "new!" and only $3.00. Anyway cryptologists of the future will have fun de-scrambling this nonsense in 50 years trying to see the deeper message within.


Media selfreflection? Thank you Mr. Fitzgerald

In a statement that I have not heard before from a mass media institution - and one that is even closer to the republican party in america then most others - it seems a kind of selfreflection takes place and the washingtonpost is not the only one.

We are living in an uneasy moment of moral crisis and institutional disintegration in politics as well as journalism.

Wow - I mean do they actually say they sucked the past 10 years at least and have overseen major developments in politics that were so crystal clear as for a simple search engine in the year 2000 to make sense out of it? Do they really finally think that all their attention grabbing stories of the past were useless and that they want to resort to real journalism? That I see a statement like that in my lifetime is marvelous - guess what I think they have come to the conclusion a little tiny bit (about five years) to late. This self reflection will do one thing: lend tremendous credibility to the web that was babbling those things when they happened and not days - month - years later. Now who did you say bombed the world trade center? Isnīt that a question that after all that has been said about the current administration in the current "leak case" - as they mildly put it - should be asked again? A question that has been answered by Massmedia exactly the way the Bush administration wanted the Massmedia to answer it just like they wanted a name of a secret agent on the front page of every major news show in the US - a question that only the most diehard are still asking. Forget Yellow cake, WMDs or alQuaida in Saddams Iraq - it all points to deeper things - long term strategies where a event like the one in New York in this September 2001 - the year the president was shown as failure - fit just a tiny little bit too perfectly. I do NOT believe what has been said about security and terror and all those things that have been beaten to death - what a dangerous world - oh I am still alive - I never did and partially all those who donīt are proven right on track - even now with support from those who always stated the contrary - the big government fed massmedia which has not grasped that the grapevine in the internet has always made different statements - and as it turns out more correct statements. I do not want anyone ever tell me I am a conspiracy theorist or whatever people like me are accused when saying things that contradict mass medias message. More and more things that have been said about the Bush conspiracy are turning out to be true - just much too late to undo the evil they have already done - like turning the whole western hemisphere into a police controlled prison with surveillance everywhere, biometric passports and a government controlled media - just like we had in eastern germany and in NO regard is president Bush and his shadowy cabinett any better then the socialist or kommunist rulers of the past - they all run down a system with a good intention (democracy, kommunism, socialism) - just to feed their power - hunger. What has changed for the first time in world history is - that no matter where you are in the world - the internet has us connected - the window for lies has become smaller and now the internet seems to get a final credential on telling more truth then the 20th century massmedia. I hope it will boost confidence that sitting there in front of your screen writing thousands of words a day does make a difference and will make even more a difference now that the old school media has officially called themselves liars, thief's of personal freedom and unprofessional journalist.

Anticommercial Break

Gif - Short - Free - Deep - brilliant - not much more to say.

SmartWrap - vaporware rules the world

Its an old hat and I am sure I reported on it earlier - the coolest invention of the last 5 years - that has yet to show some actual products to get money loaded hands on is printing circuitry with inkjet printers. The newest incarnation is printing solar cells and OLEDs on a piece of see through plastic and using that as a wrapper for your house. Again no actual product - all laboratory tests and the name "DuPont" on the package make me shiver and a "believe it when I see it" kind of product. The announcements of these kind of tech start to bore me - same goes with "unlimited storage" "epaper" and the like - I still only see classic LCD panels even in the most expensive phones - there is barely a company using OLEDs yet (and they are said to be "in production" since at least three years) no epaper to buy and no holographic storage to pick up at the local store that holds all my data. All very nice concepts and I am sure the scientists have a field day in the laboratory conditions and using all this cool tech while mass market application seem to be out of question. So yes I want to print my own wallpaper screen for $5 dollars the square meter that even converts its own energy - and I am sure about a billion other people as well ... where is it? Vapor ware is ruling the technology market as of late - phone companies annoluncing products 12-18 month in advance of shipment (just to ship stripped down unfunctioning version then). We hear about phantastic speed gains in processors in "less then 24 month" just to see them cut down to reality 3 month before introduction (Intel just today). It really gets on my nerve. If any company exec is reading this: Announce a product when its ready to ship - it helps customer confidence in your company - doesnīt make you look bad when you are unable to ship it (as this would then not happen) and generally would be healthy for society.

Open Call for Collaboration between VJ&Videobloggers

Jean "skynoise" Poole in an open call to videobloggers and vjs on his blog (and various videoblogging and vj sources) makes the case for a "bedroom pixel army" to take on big media. In the nice tradition of interblog exchange I want to give an answer from my side - a side "experienced" in both sides of the "bedroom pixel front" but also on the side of the massmedia front through my family history.
I do agree completely with him that vjs and videobloggers should build a front against current MassMedia. I do disagree that both are fighting in the same turf and I think both have a LONG way to go until they reach any point where they pose a powerful enough force to take on the big guys. Here is why in form of the answer I gave him on the vjcentral threat:

... its all nice in concept but making a RELEVANT vj entry for the blog can consume a day or at least half a day. I am not a big fan of just posting a "vj mix" of the night before. I think videoblogging needs content as I ultimately think vjing needs content but videoblogging the more because you have the 100% focus of the person in front of the computer (or 95%) and if you just show eyecandy he/she/it will get very bored very easely and will never come back - except for some diehard vjs that just take a kick out of swirling lines and dancing gogo girls... videoblogging has - just like vjing - the potential to challenge 20th century media with new fresh approaches - videoblogging goes more into the tv domain while vjing goes more in the cinema domain - both of these are more then ripe for a change (the tv more then the cinema I guess). but this canīt be challenged with meaningless random lines, cutout dancers or 50 layers mashup of 70s tv series. Original content that gives the viewer a Mehrwert (whatever the english translation for that is - the german word fits perfectly)... I want to learn new things when I watch something - not only politics, technology or similar - it can be extended to spirituality or something that I donīt know about yet or whatever but it has to be in some respect meaningful - for the pure "turn off my brain" entertainment - hollywood and tv is unsurpassable as of now.
I do not have any proof of concept to offer (yet) and have lost interest in the pure mashup - the vjblog will be a little dormant for the next weeks. and yes there was interest in form of "oh thats nice to look at" kind of comments. it has no power and to talk in peters words (yes THAT peter) "we need to combine the powercommunicators with the message communicators to really make a change".
manovich can write trillions of pages about how cool new "spatial compositing" is and how the new "layer generation" is affecting tv and hollywood - but what he fails to see is that this "mashup generation" fails to generate a message - something that old fashion cinema AND tv always have had and why they rose in the first place (notice that the real mass consumtion of cinema started with the "news show reels" in the cinemas and not with the highly vj like art tests of our anchestors (Wallace-Rimington, Richter, Fischinger) - they fed the hollywood machine with new technics (especially fischinger is a good case for study with his involvement in Disneys "Fantasia") but they could not challange because of the lack of messages in their beautiful eyecandy creations.

Bush is NOT impeachable

Ted Rall - a writer to the Yahoo News wrote an highly interesting article explaining why - no matter what Bush does - he will never get impeached. Anyone in hope for the president to be lifted from his post before the next elections in three years should read this. It explains in detail that originally the founding fathers of the US constitution did not anticipate a two party system where one party rules both the congress and senate and that all representative would stick to a party line. There have been many instances when Bush could have been impeached already and none have even started an investigation. Even worse: Bush and his cabinet is ignoring what has been ruled - as an example Rall shows the case for Guantánamo where the Supreme Court has ruled that all 600 Muslim inmates get legal court hearing. That was about a year ago - until now nothing has happened - it gets just ignored what the highest legal instance in the US says. So either their is an insurgency brewing inside the US or the world will get another three years of destructive US politics.


Eerie sounds from Saturn.

sounds_of_saturn_01_578.jpgRight in time for Halloween the NASA has made public some very eerie "otherwordly" sounds that where recorded from Saturn. They are strange bizarre and cool alltogether. Makes you wonder what generated them and how they came to existence. Interesting material to make a song out of if you are this kind of person. Best are the radio emissions from Saturn in my opinion (last one in the list) but also the surprise in the radar Echos of Titan.

Remote control for humans or first electronic drug?

Imagine you wearing headphones and all of the sudden your feet start to go right instead of straight ahead - an invisible hand is moving you and you canīt control yourself - you start dancing in the middle of the street and you canīt do anything about it. NTT - Japans biggest telephone company has developed what they call "The Human Remote Control". Apparently it sends small electrical currents into your ear and as a result you start moving in ways you canīt control yourself. They have a working prototype where someone can control someone elseīs way of path with a joystick you can even control yourself with the joystick.... It gets more interesting so. When you watch a rendering of a race care driving down the the street the sensation is according to the test journalist from the sf gate like sitting in the car. The most interesting use for me is so the music application he describes. The have hooked up the device (that seems to sit in normal headphones) to a musicplayer and used the musical frequencies to drive the remote - the result is something that you could explain as the first electronic drug like experience making you feel dizzy and disconnected from the world.
Of course there are also bad appliances like torture for the military that could be achieved with that so like all cool new tech take it with a grain of salt. iPod with iDrug headphones? ;)

Mr. Galloway, the second act.

Mr. Galloway who spoke out in front of a US Senate Committee about his enrollment in the "oil for food" program back in May 2005 where he was indicted by the US Senate that he got bribes from Saddams regime. The hearing back then was a backlash to the Senate. Mr. Galloway in turn spoke of the "mother of all fogscreens" that is cast by the current US administration and turned his indictment into a public smashing of US politics. I for one admire him for his courage back then. Mr Coleman - the chairman of the Senate sub committee that was indicting Mr. Galloway back then is at it again to discredit one of the most vocal critics of US politics in international politics. Now Mr. Galloway is indicted of lying under oath and there is "new proof in form of witnesses" that Mr. Galloway was indeed part of the oil for food fraud. Those witnesses were rehearsed in Iraqi prisons - I am leaving it with the fellow readers how those statements came to happen but generally putting the talk of "murder regime" as a witness for truth against a person that is for peace on earth and apparently has refuted all claims against him once before is just short of hilarious.
Mr. Galloway wouldnīt be Mr. Galloway if he wouldnīt turn this into a spear rammed into the infidels back. He is so inclined that he speaks the truth that he wants to involve the American Public in the new hearing. According to the Guardian he booked a big venue in Minnesota - one of the reddest red republican states of the US and wants to turn this senate hearing again into a big backlash for the administration that itself is indicted of lying under oath (the other case). He wants to make this a media spectacle. Seeing him the last time one can be sure that this will be the greatest of all dissection of the "mother of all fogscreens" as this time not only the senate committee but also Mr. Galloway will be much more prepared.


European City Underground

siolo-proc02.jpgLike physical underground not social or mental underground that is. Eerie photos from sewage and water channels underneath some European cities that could be taken straight out of the latest horror flick - but these are real. The one to the left is part from the drain tunnel system underneath Manchaster, UK.
Via boingboing.net.


War with Syria?

or how one mans word can change public reception

Next to Iran there is another "rogue state" on the "axis of evil" that the world needs to get rid of - or so the Bush administrations and their various poodles want you to believe - the independend state is Syria and is already in long conflict with the US over "making sure insurgents are getting into Iraq" - even so about 98% of all Insurgents captured are Iraqies and not "foreign terrorists fighting in the name of Allah". Still Syria is a threat to Israel and is a nice boardering country to Iran - so a stop in between before getting all over Iran would be to assimilate Syria with its weak military and sparsely populated deserts. Apperently there have been already multiple boarder incidents where also at least 5 Syrian soldiers lost their lifes to American firepower. Now since we all know that Mr. Bush with all its power still needs to make a case for the public to go to war he is using a highly controversial incident from last year to just go invade the sovereign country. The incident is the murder of the former prime minister of Lebanon - Mr. Hariri. Now this death was a mystery in itself - as the US supported prime minister of Lebanon not really posed a urgend threat to Syria in the first place and that the only side that could win in such a crime would be the PR department of the US and Israel. Now an independend german special prosecutor was send to Syria and Lebanon to investigate the case. His findings sound like they were written by the US department for misinformation as they cater about any allegation the US has made in the case. All mass media of the world is now reporting that the Mehlis report is final and that the US will push a UN Security Counsel meeting to make Syria face consequences or as John Bolton - US ambassador to the UN - said: "All option are on the table now that Syria has been convicted for this crime". Now what? There are so many false statements in the mainstream press that you might think that the whole world wide independent media outlets are completely infiltrated by the Bush administration - rarely is there any newspaper asking questions and most just give out the words from Bush and and his shadowy cabinet. Some blogs are even say "Syria is screwed".
The most interesting thing is in the end that the search for evidence is not even over - its was a progress report by Mr. Mehlis to the UN with the wish to continue his search for another month because there where difficulties researching the case and problems with the witnesses.
Now very interesting lets see who the witnesses are: One person - already convicted by a court before of fraud and lying. Spiegel.de reports the witness was even pointed to by the uncle of the current leader of Syria and this uncle wanting to topple Assad for a long time.
So a former dissident with strong ties to Israel and the US is pointing to ONE witness that claims that he has provided the apartment for the conspiracy meetings and that top level individuals up to the current president of Lebanon and the interior minister of Syria where planning the attack them self. And the witness is a convicted criminal which was tried to spreading FUD before.
The case seems to have been made now - no matter what Mehlis will present on November 15th the world will have moved on and a charge in the Security Counsel will be imminent with Russia and China vetoing a move against Syria (Russia just sold Syria brand new Surface to Air and Surface to Surface Missles) and the US telling the world "then we have to act alone".
Deception of media and the public at its best again. Just count the times the Media picked up the words of Assad in defence and the times they picked up John Bolton in offense - just go to google news and count - its interesting.

Cellphone on a Chip

sim_ura.jpgIts more and more confusing if I should put certain products into the "ComputaStuff" or the "FutureIsNear" category as some products seems to be straight out of Sci-Fi movies of the past. Now Sharp has introduced something that is so übercool (yes with umlaut :P) that its hard to not say "FutureIsNear". After seeing all Cellphones in the world shrink and getting smaller and even having photo cameras in them or MP3 players or both or even tv receivers you might ask how small the cellphones can actually get. Well Sharp has the definite answer for now: about the size of a SIM card - yes that card that hold your mobile phone account information might soon pack everything you need to make a call - except the battery, the screen and the antenna. Now you think "why would I need this silly thing" and the clarification for that comes from the consortium that develops these. According to engadget the following companies sitting on the "W-SIM" forum that oversees the development on cellphones on a chip: Casio, Kyocera, Sanyo, Toshiba, Tomy, IBM Japan, Bandai, Fujitsu, Microsoft, Apple and about 40 other big industry players. Now the implications are manyfold. Have a phone on a chip and pop it into anything that has a numberpad and a screen and maybe an antenna and surf the web or make a call over existing cellphone lines - byebye cellphones? Maybe not so but having especially Apple sitting on that board proofes the most interesting thing - while sony is pushing its MP3 handies down your throat (and yes I might be getting one soon instead of on iPod) Apple might just push from the other side - making your phoning experience an addition to the iPod - in form of a plug in card - if you want it make it an option. The W-SIM seems the most appropiate thing for that approach - oh and while you are at it just plug in the same card into you computer and surf the web.
Not so fast. As with any new tech there is a catch. Right now the cards can only do PHS. What the heck is PHS? Its like GSM or UMTS but has a much smaller range and is only in widespread use in Japan - where seemingly doesnīt matter if you have an antenna every 300 meter to make this system work spotless. I just think that the W-SIM will be available for UMTS as well very soon - otherwise it just wonīt make any sense to have such a large international industry consortium overlooking the development. Interesting to follow and watch indeed.

Holgraphic Storage - the real deal

3060000000050293.JPG.jpg There have been two development in the Technology World in the last ten years that have been fascinating to me but have never produced actual products. The first is the e-paper technology and it seems like we are closing in on final products in that department soon - I expect to replace my nonexistent wallpaper with cheap modifiable video capable e-paper in less then 10 years and play in the first club that is immersed in e-paper screens all around in five years time - optimistic I know... Anyway the second biggest unresolved problem the digital world faces is backing up millions of trillions of bytes. Well there is that new format war on the horizon that promises "up to 100 GB of storage" in the next 5 years. HD-DVD or Blueray is the question and at the moment it looks like the more storage offering Blueray has its nose in front. Then that 100GB in five years and probably more 25 GB or maybe 50 GB next year- I still would need 20 discs (and about 10 hours) to back up all my data and I have virtually no MP3 or Hollywood rips on my HD - its all self made data - and anyone doing MoPics - even in lousy DV compressed Video Resolution - not even uncompressed, HD or 2k / 4k film res - will know that those gigabyte get eaten away fast fast. So only 50 GB? Please please NOOOO. I want to back up ALL my data to something secure in one go and make two secure copies in less then an hour. The hope for me was always on holographic storage since I first read about it in 1998 or something. It sounded promising back then and it didnīt sound extremely complicated - so in 7 years not a single product has emerged. That seems about to change as the company that holds all the patents to holographic storage and has working prototypes of media and recording machines is only looking for investment so they can ramp up their production and go into large scale distribution. What are they offering? Up to 500 GB on credit card sized media or up to 1TB on initial launch on a round DVD sized media - Possibility to go up to 3.6 GB soon. Now who in the world wants to have a DRM controlled 50 GB storage device if for a similar price and size you get 20 times more? The only problem Optware - the developer of holographic storage in form the HVD and HVC (Holographic Versatile Card in Credit Card form) faces is that they need venture capital for production and they are looking for that right now in the US. I for one canīt wait for this tremendously promising looking storage technology that would finally move backup storage back where it belongs - cheap, easy and larger then internal HD. And yes caddies are a good thing if they protect my data from scratches - I was never complaining about floppy disks having a plastic protective shelf around their precious innards to protect my data.


What(s) the font?

Sometimes you more or less accidently stumble over website that you wish you would have known before. One of those came under my fingers today. Looking for a font I could vaguely remember some know fonts site. Linotype.com or MyFonts.com. The later one pooped up during the dot.com area and I wasnīt even sure if it still existed. Even the more surprised I was when I had a look at their vast catalog and the easiness of buying fonts from then - if I would choose to do so. The most amazing feature of all revealed itself under the Whatthefont" button. It prompts you for a picture on your HD or a picture URL on the web and then with a little help it fiddles out the type for you and presents you with a list of typefaces that could possibly match the one you gave in. I tested it with a very bad pic from the web and it accurately presented me with a couple of typefaces that looked extremely close to the one on input (so not exact but that might have been that the type was custom made). This has probably been around for quite some time and I just never found it when most needed but a very good link for those designers that have those clients that donīt even know their own in house font...

War with Iran: An objective analyses

The guardian has an objective analysis if a war with Iran would be possible considering the strained US army and the low approval ratings of Mr. Bush. The article is surprising as it shows that for a Bush presidency nothing could be more beneficial then a war with Iran - especially when he is with his back against the wall. The US can target 5.000 points with 120 B52 bombers in just one mission - enough to take out the complete command and control of Iran (much of that in highly populated areas - some of it underneath Theran - collateral damage of millions of people imminent). About 30.000 US soldiers that are on standby could then move in and start controlling the most important assets (oil fields and pipelines?) and the Kurdish (again) and the Sunnis in the South could then be used to form a new government. Internally Bush has nothing to fear - the democrats would likely not vote against a war with Iran as Iran has cost them a president (Carter) before and would be seen as siding with the evil side. Now on top of all that it is that the US will just tell the UN security counsel that if it wonīt vote in favor of sanction with Iran the US will make it absolute and just go ahead anyways - with support of the UK and Irans biggest enemy - Israel.
That this will likely result in a nuklear explosion of the whole middle east and that any peace in the region will likely never be found again seems not to cross anyones mind. Its likely that at the first day a B52 drops one bomb on Iran, Syria will go back into Lebanon and onward to Israel, the Shiites in Iraq will arm up and go against the US and Saudi Arabia will become highly unstable. Pakistan might not be able to control its inner foes and then you have the nuclear conflict looming. The writing is on the wall and if Mr. Bush is not ousted in the short future then this scenario will happen - all things points toward this new war.


China builds railway to Tibet

DSC00311.JPGWhen I was in Tibet five years ago there was talk on the streets that the Chinese had asked the Swiss to build them a railroad from mainland China into Lhasa. The benefit of a railroad from China to Tibet is extraordinary - for the Chinese. Tibet is said to have the most resources left on the planet - oil, coal, gold, copper, iron - you name it and its there - the problem always was that no transportation system was in place to get this out of town - it was one of the last barriers for the Tibetan culture to flourish and holding back the majority of the Chinese to rip the land of its culture, goods and spirituality.
Now the Swiss told the Chinese that this could not be done - a railroad following the bus route from Golmud to Lhasa - the most stressy bus route on earth where every year people die of altitude sickness traveling with the beaten busses on the earthy path - would not be feasible. So then I have not heard about any attempts since then - until today. The Chinese will open the railroad that will ultimately destroy the nature, spirituality and culture of Tibet in the next 20 years (seeing what they have already been doing without the railroad this will just accelerate the destruction). If you want to have a glimpse of what Tibet was about go now or otherwise all you will see is the Chinese Tourist Version of what once was the holiest sacred place in the world.

And here a nice layouted 70 pages PDF that shows the real motivation and history of the China-Tibet Railway.


Forming Public Opinions

With a Bush administration plummeting in approval ratings and a majority of US citizens favoring an impeachment process the rats in the white house are repainting public opinion again. How subtle but still blunt this going is outright amazing. A New York Times article is now at the forefront again of this (as they were wrongly before with the Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq) and reciting Mr. Bush:

Mr. Bush's own way of talking about the future, in Iraq and beyond, has undergone a subtle but significant change in recent weeks. In several speeches, he has begun warning that the insurgency is already metastasizing into a far broader struggle to "establish a radical Islamic empire that spans from Spain to Indonesia." While he still predicts victory, he appears to be preparing the country for a struggle of cold war proportions.

So say what? Its not about Iraq anymore? Not about Weapons of Massdestruction? Not about Terrorism? Its now war of civilization - the good west against Islam?
This adds credibility that the administration is trying to reshape public opinion to go to war with Syria and Iran soon and they prepare for that epic struggle that will make the cold war look like happy wonderland in comparison. So I will be on the lookout from the US government (and our own German New Neoncon Overlords) for more pitches in these direction and I think I will find plenty soon as the new Media Offensive of the White House gets into full swing.

No stupid its not about WMD, Terrorism or Democracy in the Middle East - its about Islam wanting to end the world... We have to stop them in any way possible even if it mean nuking the shit out of them...


The Internet Video Hype

After Apples Video iPod announcment yesterday came an announcment by MTV to have a new channel - mtvU Uber (or do the mean Über? is this the start of a germanificiation of english?) exclusively distributed over broadband and its streaming and its free as in beer. They run some of the same shows as normal MTV but also air productions that are influenced by "college students watching Über". The show is only available in Windows Media 9 format with all the accompanied DRM crap (why the show is for free?) and therefore not watchable on any mac or iPod. Next to Apples announcment and this and a gazilion of other broadcasts and videos on the net it seems the net will replace TV sooner then most think. The only problem right now is infrastructure at the server ends (possibly the best bet on the market beeing Apples iTMS right now with an already successfully distribution model that can handle lots of traffic) the tools - again the iPod with its current market share having a head start over other portable movie players and a STANDARDIZED CODEC. The last one seems the most important in the battle over ultimate dominance of the newTV. Open standards are nice - like MPEG4 but by no means is this the standard yet set on the net - there is still divX not to be counted out and the notorious Windows Media Format 9 with its crappy "I call home to tell big brother what you are watching" DRM. The market will decide but all bets go in direction MPEG4 H.264 right now as the soon to be number one digital movie player will ONLY play this (and normal Mpeg4) setting a defacto standard that the whole industry will follow. I already see most vloggers asking "how can I convert my .wmv files to .m4v (yes thats the new official ending for MPG4). What gives? I predict that the next year will see a shake out in Standards with only Microsoft trying to hold on with wmv undtil the end and fail and the open standard MPEG4 embraced by Apple will survive (expect to see the first illegal movie torrents use h.264 in the next weeks - the "Jack the Rippa" entry from two days ago) then you see most - if not all TV shows be available on some distribution channel or the other (again expect Apple be the number one here as they have already set the standard). After that we will see Hollywood movies (given the bandwidth rises during the next year for the majority of households) for cheap download ($4.99 and you own it) and then have all major news broadcasts switch over (maybe even to late to have the same impact as independ news broadcasters have gathered by then - one can wish right?) and then WHY IN EARTH WOULD I WANT TO WATCH TV? Everything is available on demand when I want it - advertising only in those things that are free of charge and I can choose not only from major TV stations but from a unlimited amount of sources to get my information and entertainment. I proclaim hereby TV is dead in less then a year (or are at the point of no reanimation). And seeing as how Apple is positioning itself right now - giving the independ a voice with video podcasts (and even soon the option to earn money!) and the big production studios a new way to make revenue for things they already have financed through advertising on TV they have the head start already and its hard to stop them.

e-paper made in Germany

I read this guardian article twice as I could not believe whats in it - a 50 Euro per square meter e-paper material has been developed - and not in Japan or at the MIT no in good old Germany at the company that just sold its handy market to the Asiens - Siemens. Not much information is floating around and neither are pictures but the article claims that this material is very cheap and very flexible paperthin and acts like a normal TV or monitor. It can be used to place moving advertising in magazines or little games on cigarette packs - and what sets it apart from every other e-paper in the labs - its COLOR and IT CAN PLAY FULL MOTION VIDEO. So how long until I can get e-wallpaper now? The article says that we will first see them in expensive magazines "high - impact adverts". Yummy.


FollowUp: Alias goes to Autodesk - ask the managers

VFX world (free registration required) has asked the three top managers in the upcoming buyout of Alias about the future of Alias products - such as Maya, Motion Builder and Studio Tools. The interview is interesting as both sides see the products complement each other rather then beeing in competition with Studio Tools more for concept design and AutoCad more for prototyping - Maya more for Character Design and 3DStudio more for level editing (games). Motion Builder is seen as bridge between Maya and 3D Studio and Maya is still geared toward entertainment as 3D Studio probably will be more tailored towards the gaming industry. No word on platform compatibility of Aliases products in the future...

VJ Tools: the tactic M2

lividm2.pngVJ tools are springing up everywhere and they get weirder and weirder. Instead of acknowledging that every VJ wants total freedom of the software and controller he/she uses companies pursuing the "all from us" strategy more and more. The newest breed is the "tactic m2" from lividinstruments - not only have I never heard of this company nor do I know their software. From what I see - "Nothing new move along". Even with the dedicated hardware its still only 320x240 capable on modern portable macs and contrary to the claim that it replaces a camera a video mixer a second powerbook and a slew of other gear - its fantasy and it will not. No one professionally VJing in big events will rely on only one source nobody will rely on solution without a video mixer (its such a good solution to many problems a software can never solve) and instead using curvy shaped mahogany they should have used an indestructible much cheaper plastic that fits in cases as most VJs lack space and funds. Also there are tons of other Midi gear out there that works with about any VJ app on the planet and is not confined to the one that noone has heard and that is totally untested by the masses. I feel that more and more company trying to rip of VJs not understanding that the market is still so tiny and mostly uncommercial - they will get it eventually. And audio over USB has a not acceptable lag so donīt even supply your customers with a free adapter....

Majority of US citizens want Bushīs impeachment

Afterdowningstreet.org - a grassroots organization trying to unveil the lies of the Bush administration has asked the Ipsos Public Affairs polling company - nonpartisan and highly regarded as they claim - to do a poll on how american citizens feel about an impeachment of Mr. Bush. The surprising outcome was that the majority across all regions and incomes wants the US Senate to pursue a hearing that could lead to impeachment if he lied about the threats that lead to the Iraq war. Now everyone in the know about the Downingstreet Memo and the senate hearing of Mr. Galloway knows that the outcome of such an investigation can only be one: Yes the administration under Mr. Bush lied and has fabricated facts to support its goal to go to war with Iraq and in consequence Mr. Bush needs to leave office (and may be even tried for crimes against humanity). The reality in Bushs US is different - not a single big press institution in the whole country is conducting such polls or asking normal citizens if they favor an impeachment process and all Senate members are afraid of the administration if they launch such a process. So while impeachment is not imminent and war trials are probably never happen we might see a shift in mentality in the American public that could lead to a protest across - one can hope...

Microsoft asks Webdesigners for help

No I am absolutely not kidding. After years and years of ignoring the standards set by the worldwide official acknowledged internet standard setting body the W3C Microsoft is now figuring that it better follows the standards with its up coming Internet Exploder 7. Now you may think "that is noble" - the irony on the story is that this will brake compatibility with the hacks that the webdesigner employed during billions of hours just to make their website work with Internet Exploder 6 and smaller - and every webdesigner in the universe can tell you the pain and lost hours felt because of the past incompatibilities - some have completely lost their nerve developing anything for the web. These old hacks that build on errors in the Internet Explorer code are now haunting Microsoft as it switches to standard conformity. It seems that Internet Explorer 7 is not displaying any CSS with hacks in place correctly - box model, fixed positioning etc etc. Microsofts solution? Ask the webdesigner to correct their code and write another set of code just for Internet Explorer 7. They MUST BE FUCKING KIDDING. Webdesigner have now developed a deep ensuring hatred for anything coming out of Microsoft in connection with the web and I predict either two of the following reactions to that "call". First their will be types of webdesigners who do not see that the Windows XP+ only Internet Explorer 7 will catch enough market share to reward changing the code - so in effect leaving all the hacks as they are and breaking IE 7 compatibility. Secondly their will be the purist webdesigners who take out all the hacks they can as fast as possible as they see this as the way out of the year long standards hassle and put a "IE7 and other standards conform browser only" sticker on the site. This will haunt Microsoft in the years to come and surely will eat into their market share as more and more consumers see them self confronted with websites that just donīt work with IE or look butt ugly or strange or whatever. Someone on the heise.de forums posted the Goethe classic "The ghosts that I called" and I can only say the master might not come in time...
Personally I never got around to use any of the hacks - all my code is 100% standards conform and it is and was always possible to do about any design with this - it just took more time - now I am happy not to need to change any code on any of the sites I created...

Read the Microsoft cry for help here.


Jack the Rippa: Video iPod with universal dock and Apple Remote

videoIpodRemote.pngNow if you thought I am done text blogging today - sorry I get on your nerve one more time. The last post was more about the inside of the new Video centric apple announcements (and I canīt say how happy I am after all this music crap the last four years) the new video iPod comes with an optional Universal Dock that in turn is usable with all dockable iPods and this Dock has an IR (yes that old technology still in use) interface for apple new Remote Control - creatively called the "Apple Remote". With that you can control your iPod from the distance (and the new iMac if you have one - why the - sorry for the strong word - fuck not bluetooth?) Anyway this is better then any DVD player. Just put the iPod in the dock put the dock on top of your home entertainment system and sit back and watch those 150 hours of h.264 encoded video - oh yeah its 320x240 but most DVD rips are 320x240 and are probably of worse quality then the good h.264. This is da rippas dream :)

Video iTunes: 320x240 is IN

iTunes61.pngOh my god... We have now official backing for the half resolution to be the next big thing... after Veoh officially tuts 320x240 as the big innovation in content streaming now Apple does so too - this in the year of HD who would have thought. In addition to the already available Music videos - now $1.99 - you can also download the two best running US-TV-Shows such as Desperate Housewives - for $1.99 per show - and some Pixar short films - yes you guessed it also for $1.99 per episode. iTunes6 is the new version that supports video a little better then before and is now premiering vlogcasts. All videos are secured by fairplay and are not burnable to dvd/cd - you are allowed to put them on any number of iPods and up to 5 computers - not too bad. ALL videos are 320x240 making the number one VJing resolution and the number one vlogging resolution the number one internet streaming resolution. It will be MPEG4 a n d H.264 ... no sweat to change the vjblog over to H.264 just yet (so I will double check). The new video capable iPods costs $299 for 30 gig and $399 for 60 gig. Now someone want to support a poor artist?
The prospect that apple wents with the defacto standard of 320x240 and does not force push H.264 is remarkable - I really thought if they do video iPod they gonna push the envelope - they didnīt and it maybe is again a smart move as they put the poor content developers outside the major production studios in a competitive position as of quality - EVERYONE can produce a professional looking 320x240. Now lets see this interesting development and how it unfolds in the vlogger scene - oh yeah I need to do an entry :P good days indeed...


iTunes6: it converted all my videocasts that I subscribed to and imported a couple of normal Mpeg4s - from where I am still investigating and its outright cool.

UPDATE: The video specs for the iPOD (not the iTunes) are as following:

H.264 video up to 768 kbps, 320 x 240, 30 frames per second; MPEG-4
video up to 2.5mbps, 480 x 480, 30 frames per second

I guess everyone will go H.264 with 768 soon as this is good quality with minimal file size but good that none of the vloggers have to make their entries backward compatible (wouldnīt have been much of a problem over here but still good to save the hassle)

Video iPod? No I can not resist ;)

"It has come to my attention that a big video blog has been asked to be used for an Apple presentation tomorrow" This text is circulating the vlogosphere left and right - and in all respect I think - yes we are seeing a video iPod today - and no the vjblog was not asked ;) It will be the "video starter" pod with music videos and video blogs in mind - maybe Apple has teamed up with the BBC archive to provide some more valuable content - an iTunes - Movie - store fully functioning but without much "hollywood content" so they can make the big movie corpos a fully functional offer. What will that mean for the vlogosphere? BIG THINGS as the vlogger would be in the position to fill the videoPods with content that is just fine to watch on the small screen.
But in the end it could be something not iPoddy - or a combination of a videoiPod with a settop box acting as the iPod dock to watch the videos on the Home Entertainment system and this settop box has something like Airtunes for movies build in to fill up the iPod the settop box or whatever and on top the settop box could record tv straight to the iPod. Whatever will come we will see today some times - video iPod would be exiting but scary for the just starting vlogosphere who hasenīt fully found its way just yet...

UPDATE: And yes in addition to a chic new iMac Apple just announced the jump start for the vlogger scene - a video iPod with h.264 capabilities... I dig and report...

Instant Blinkenlights - the return of the original

blinkenhandaustreck.pngYes the original one bit Blinkenlights comes to its original place - the "Haus des Lehrers" at Berlin Alexander Platz. For two weeks it will blink behind the windows of the rebuild house with the original "you can call in and play" pong - reachable under 0190-987654 (all money goes to the project) and some of the favorite animation that still mark my vj set.
if you have a Mac or other Unix system you can install the blinkensim and then connect to blinkenproxy.blinkenlights.de to see what is going on in the blinkenwindows. The classics are worth watching...
read more on tims blog

Microsofts Powergrab - IPTV...

It seems that all antitrust cases against Microsoft have done nothing to stop this company with the two world richest mans on top to further expand their powerhungry network. An article in the Seattle Times talks about how Microsoft is venturing into the realm of TV and draws up the plan that sends shivers down anyones "independent media" spines. Over the course of the last 10 years - besides lots of publicly failed products - Microsoft has been buying into big Telephone and Cable companies to roll out its great Microsoftish "IPTV". The claim is that this system will deliver a new TV experience and you can now get it from Comcast in Texas for example. Comcast puts in a fibreoptic line for free when you get the $40 service. Well what you get is a Microsoft controlled TV inside your computer - which would be a total failure or at least just another player in the cable TV bussiness - but what this also gets you is a Microsoft controlled Internet - and I think that is the grand strategy by Microsoft who still are not over the loss of control they experienced through the advent of free internet communication that does not always favors their products - music distribution, video distribution, instant messaging, cellphones - the great technologies of the modern age come to mind where in neither Microsoft has any real advantage. Microsoft vertically integrating through carriers (stakes at AT&T and others) and content delivery (the IPTV) and consumer products (XBOX, Windows etc) is a scary thought and with their cash at hand they could subside all these into the 80% market share.

How feasable is a war on Iran?

With Germany just getting a neo-con supportive chancellor who will do anything to get power (like beeing the voice for the "Freie Deutsche Jugend" - the East German equivalent to the "Hitler Jugend"(oh yes far stretch but how do you explain what it is to the international readers - a paramilitary force of young people under 20)) we have to worry once again if we are now siding with a US hegemonic world or are the peaceful representatives who learned from our bad past and try to avoid global conflict. That this will be put to test sooner then most think seems to be not the street talk but everything pointing to an imminent war with Iran - maybe even before the midterm elections in the US next year. How can the US - seemingly already overstretched in Iraq do this? Expert Scott Ritter - former UN Weapons Inspector and ex US Army Corps general is telling the world the dirty secrets of the US - the complete strategy of an invasion of Iran and the falsified ideas - or some may call it neo-con fantasies - behind such an strategy. He is certain - the war on Iran is planned and even carried out in small already. Read the full text of his analysis. And yes Nuclear weapons are on the table for that new war.


War pimp alert: Bush is accusing Syria and Iran of sponsoring terrorism

The highly pro Israelian website debka.com is reporting that Mr. Bush ruler of the one world is accusing the leftovers of his axis of evil - Syria and Iran - to sponsor terrorism. As this is nothing new it still seems that the accusations and threats towards Iran get more intense and Bushs poodle Mr. Blair stands by his side and accuses Iran of bombing mission (bloomberg.com) in Basra.
Who wants to bet that a war with Iran is about to happen in the next 2-3 years no matter what the public thinks right now?


magazine review: sceen

sceen_nr1.pngLast saturday at the Bermuda Visualisten open rainy air vj art happening Marcel Magis introduced me Alexender Scholz who in turn is the editor in chief and one of the publishers of the new magazine called "sceen". After a nice little too short chat he gave me their holy first issue to have a look and comment - and I do in public please forgive me ;)

The first impression - trying to forget what I had been told about the magazine - was "not again one of those". It looks at first as a gazzillion other magazines look like - standard format, high gloss printed color pages all in a neat but clean swiss layout (even so they spare you with the swiss font and throw in a serif for the body text). Not overly exited I opened up a random page and started reading. "Hell what is this" .. I thought ... "its in english"... after reading half a page - what a nice surprise in todays globalized world for a magazine revolving around the underground technology scene. Reading the articles randomly I was stunned how much they would suck me in - at least the ones from the featured demo scene festival, the interviews I liked as well. Turning the pages toward the "vj" part of the magazin I was dissapointed again - two 4 page artikels only revolving around tools and some thoughts of their creators - not a single article dedicated to content or philosophy of vjing... on minus point so the articles about the tools were indepth, focused and something you wouldnīt read in DJ mag or similar mainstream press. Then I continued enjoying the interviews with the demo scene people that hack into cellphones and thought - I would like to do this - where is the demo code? So I popped in the DVD that is accompanied with the mag (all in the mags simplistic bright grey CI) and saw a moving picture of about every piece that was shortly introduced in the mag - a novum and something I extremely like – but sadly still no code to tool around with.
Continuing reading I thought that the articles are all a little randomly distributed over the mag - 8bit sound, demo scene, vjing, more demoscene more music. Or even the structure within the articles seems experimental - something the layout wouldnīt suggest - an interview on the right half of the page and an article on the left half both continue on different pages - making you turn the paper again and again. In the end this was something that really supllements my reading stlye of magazines in general - highly unlinear.
Overall I still have not decided where this magazin fits in. Is it a geek mag? Then its definitely missing code photos of dissassembled gear and the overall layout is too "nice". Is it a mag targeted at the de:bug crowd - that would be too sad as it has the potential to add more depth to the highly "stylistic" articles in the other mag, or is it solely targeted at artists, then again I miss some small how toos or other hand on stuff.
In the end it served me as a nice inspirational resource. Its a nice place for crossbreading scenes to be discovered - realtime, 8bit music, 4k demo, vjs, pixels, netlabels. I just wish it would be a little more different and I really miss honest op-ed articles that show the opinions of the authors and would add a little more personality to the mag. Also a technology hands off part showing the real life as artists without the creations - having an insight into living styles and philosophical thoughts would be something I could see in there and a political standpoint - that most scenes referred in the mag have - may be essential to grab a loyal fellowship.
Its a nice number one issue with lots of potential. I had some good time flipping and reading. I wish the creators a lot of success and hope they reconsider the price of 6,50 Euro ones they have more advertising - or keep the mag mostly advertising free as its now.


Autodesk aquires Alias

We have now officially entered the IT timevortex. If someone a year ago would have told me that Adobe buys Macromedia, Apple moves to Intel Processors and Autodesk would buy Alias I would have called the doctors.
Yes its true the company that makes the coolest 3D program in the world - Maya - is beeing bought up by its biggest competitor who makes the most Windows looking and awkward 3D program in the world - 3D Studio Max. 182 million Dollars later the most talented 3D artists in the world ask if they now have to relearn a new 3D tool from ground up (and yes in todays complex 3D tools that is a task of up to 6 month to be on the same level as before). If Autodesk will kill Maya or only the Linux and Mac versions or fuse Maya and 3D studio (for the worse) or what will happen with Motionbuilder and and and... And so I am stranded again with a new 3D tool in my toolbox that I learned over the past year (trying to catch up to the industry standard) with a platform underneath that makes another fundamental shift and with the outlook that the next 2-3 years everything will just stay as it is and just be "recompiled, adjusted, bugfixed". Now I might have to bite the bullet and look at this pesky Blender 3D or maybe Softimage makes a Mac version soon?

Highend 3D has the most indepth info on the matter

Update: Macnews.de has asked the marketing manager of Autodesk about the fate of Maya and its cross platform develpment. The statement is that at the moment neither maya nor its compatibility with the platforms it runs on are object to the red ink pen - at the moment...


The 33 right hands of Zarkawi

isnīt the US great? - Just two days ago they killed the second hand to the Al-Quaida group in Iraqs leader Zarkawi, or so they claim. "But wait!" the acknowledged reader of the mainstream controlled news media my scream "didnīt they kill this guy just 3 weeks ago? Or two month ago?". It seems Zarkawi has an infinite supply of top aides and second hands and by killing one their seems to grow 5 more just like the snakes on Medusas head. The blogenlust Blog has a list of 33 aides of Zarkawi killed lately...


3.500 km back
from Istanbul to Berlin through southern Europe

Reading the web today I found it coincidental and fitting that a report about the state of tourism at telopolis came on the same date I want to post my travel journey. The article says that in 1855 the Brockhaus Encyclopedia states that a tourist is called a journeyman/woman that has no science related target for their journey and is only doing the journey to have made the journey and to afterwards telling others about the journey - whereby modern "tourists" are only customers of some transport organization who only pays that his journey without experiences is handled as efficient as possible. - Our journey is a contrast to that I hope.

Noch 1855 konnte das Brockhaussche Conversationslexicon konstatieren, einen Touristen nenne man "einen Reisenden, der keinen bestimmten, z.B. wissenschaftlichen Zweck mit seiner Reise verbindet, sondern nur reist, um die Reise gemacht zu haben und sie dann beschreiben zu können." Bei Jules Verne hingegen, wie Sloterdijk mit Blick auf den besagten Roman nachsetzt, hat "der Weltreisende auch seinem dokumentarischen Beruf entsagt und ist zum reinen Passagier geworden." Das heißt zu einem Kunden von Transportdiensten, der dafür zahlt, dass seine Reise, keine Erfahrung, sondern so effizient wie möglich abgewickelt wird.

So here it is the lengthy in depth journey journal

After our aborted Mission in Istanbul Willow and me decided to have a nice slow driving back through a little "safer" route (whatever that means today). So we planned a little and and left Istanbul for the Black Sea Coast.

Day 1
After driving north inside Istanbul for 45 minutes along the Bospherus we finally got to the probably northest point where the Bospherus meets the Black Sea. At this point there is a military installation of the Turks and no way to get close to the Sea. We headed west and tried to stay along the Coast. After arriving at an abondend army place with old ruins that we climed we got completely utterly lost in the middle of the forest on some dirttrack that was becoming a swamp. After another hour we finally found our way through the woods and some obscure park with picknick places only to find us back in Istanbul on the Bospherus 20 minutes later. Needless to say that by that time it wask getting dark and we still were not away from Istanbul. After another attempt along bigger routes that all no marking except in the oposite direction to Istanbul we finally found our way to the Black Sea and a coast route. Sometimes around eleven after making countless attempts in fishertowns that all had construction or no access to the sea or no spot to stay we arrived at a village with a lighthouse. We had the idea to stay underneath the lighthouse as this would most likely reveal a nice view over the ocean the next morning. The lighthouse was found to be completely surrounded by a fence and in the middle of the town. Slowly we began to run out of option. We figured we would have a look at the harbour of that town and see if we can eat some fish and then continue driving through the night as it seemed that the lucky stars werenīt with us that day. after getting down the hilltop with the town and the lightower we past the harbour and to our surprise we found something beachlike with tents on it and a nice fish restaurant. Driving along the beachline we figured that we would be a little too exposed there and wouldnīt have a peacefull sleep and in the end there was an army base - we opted for our first plan and ordered some fish. The restaurant was really really cute - the owner opened a little curtain with a private table in it (there were only two other people in the restaurant but he insisted for us to sit on the table. Then we ate a delicious fish got a melon for free and a flower that the owner gave me in private so I can give it over to willow - very sweet and funny. He even turned up the very broken Radio up so that we could dance. After eating and paying he insisted that we should stay on the beach in front of his restaurant - he tried to explain that everywhere else it was not save and that there the police is coming by often and we could have a good rest. We still didnīt like it and told him thank you and drove off trying to find that little white road that was so clearly marked in our map out of this town. After trying 4 roads we opted for one that looked the biggest even so it was just gravel - but we were already used to gravel roads from our arriving journey. So along we drove and we were very sure to have hit the right road but after about 5 kilometer a barrier and a locked gate blocked our way - next to it was a little checkpoint style hut. We thought to have hit another military checkpoint but it looked to insecure for that. After debating what to do (by the time it must have been around 1 a.m.) a guy came out of the hut - a one eyed guy. He was about 25 -30 years old and seemed very friendly besides his look. So we showed him the map and tried to explain were we want to go (by repeatingly trying to say the other towns name in different tones until he understood us). He tried to make clear that we are in front of some kind of reservoir and that we have indeed the right road but driving along it is not permitted - thanks shitty adac map we thought. The guy apparently saw no threat in us and somehow tried to make clear that he need to phone. So he did and after 5 minutes he reappeared out of his little hut and told us two hapopy campers that his boss allowed us to move through if we go straight and not take any side roads and make no stop. We very relieved continued driving along the gravel road that was much worse the outside the gate. After another 5 kilometers we came across a small bridge and something that looked like a waterdamm. Behind that two guys standing on the street one with his hand on a pistol. They waved to stop us and so we did. In a very angry voice he asked us - first in turkish then in english - what we are doing there and we said that the guy at the entrance let us through and that we just want to get to the other town he was all of the sudden warming up and offered us tea - which we gratefully accepted. He explained to us that this is a drinkwater reservoir that feeds water to Istanbul and that he is protecting the installation since 15 years. We had a good broken english talk and he offered us some fresh coocked duck. Me still a little hungry as always ate it and Willow got a salad. After sitting there for another hour or so he offered us that we can sleep outside the building if we would be leaving bevore 7 o clock. That made us kind of happy as this was probably one of the most secure places in the whole area and beautiful with the moon and the lake. After another 30 minutes talking he told us that his father and brother are fisherman and that they just came back from sea with 100 fresh fish and if we would like to meet them and get some fish. He sounded very excited and we didnīt want to be impolite - also I was completely full by that time. So we drove back to the town we just came from down to the harbor and there it was extremely busy with all the fisherman having just arrived. They showed us proudly what they had catch and indeed it looked very good - one fish like the other very big multiple cases. So the reservoir protector grabbed five fish and we headed back. One fish he gave to the guy on the gate the other four he started to fry once we were back at his "office" (after a little detour to a beautiful untouched beach) - by that time it was around 3 a.m. He came back with the deliciously fried fish and so we had our third meal that night and I couldnīt move anymore so filled up I was. Heading into the car and got some 4 hour sleep we were awoken at 6.50 so we would be out of the reservoir in time before anyone could notice us.

Day 2
Driving along the sea now (finally) we got out of the area after another 20 km and another gate with some guys already in the know that we were coming. Right after the gate was a paved road and we decided to see if it goes to the sea - and it finally did. We arrived at something that looked like an official beach with a restaurant in the middle that seemed to be in use and a nice plateau atop the beach for the car. So we stopped and catched up on that last few hours of sleep that had been missing from the night before. After the rest we walked along the beach and what we saw did not please us much. Not only did the Black Sea did not look much inviting with high waves and what looked like strong current the beach outside the peripheries of the restaurant was littered with garbage so far the eye could see. It looked like a garbage dump place gone was the dream of a nice beach on the black sea. On one place we found a dead half rotten dolphin and a dead bird not far. Needless to say that our perviously planned five day stayover at the black sea was thrown overboard and we decided to stay one more night at that beach and then leave turkey for good and head to Greece the next day. At dawn we got over to the restaurant to get us another fish meal - which the restaurant owner claimed not to have. He only offered us meatballs. Two friendly looking turks invited us to their table and one could speak english. He said that they had brought their own fish and they would share it with us. A little embarrassed we accepted. A nice chit chat occured and we had a good conversation about mankind, religion and life on earth in general. At some point they asked us if we want to see the sheep of the other guy sitting with us on the table - apperantly the owner of some of the biggest sheep herds in town. So we did and drove off with two older turkish men completely drunk and filled with raki into the darkness through some plains with no roads. After 20 minutes we arrived at a shepherds place - apparently a rumanian guy that was living with these sheep for 7 years and was now ready to go back to rumania to finally see his family again. We got to know the youngest of the sheep which was very cute and found itself very comforting in Willows arms starting to snuggle up and sleep. The men were practicing some shooting of beerbottles with their 12 gate shotgun. (not that anything could scare us but this was a little frightning .- we had no idea where we were three drunken turks and a shotgun.) After a while more chatting we started to drive back (to our relieve) and got invited for a tea for breakfeast in town the next day. Then we got explained about 12 times that to get out of the town we need to turn left twice so they made really sure we could leave the next day. Getting back to the van and having a very pleasant sleep we awoke to the sound of rain drumming against the metal of the car.

Day 3
The rain made us feel save in our decision to leave Turkey for good and after having our obligatory breakfeast we stopped at the little restaurant to have a tea with the sheep owner and then we moved on. Quite surprisingly we found our way quite well. At the gas station I got half an heart attack for paying almost 70 Euros for 30 Liter of gasoline. Then we went south south south from the Black Sea cost down to the Coast of the Sea of Mamara. and then east towards Greece. No traffic on the big wide road and good weather got us to the Greek - Turkish boarder around two o clock. There was no traffic at the boarder - even so it was on a Friday and we got straight to the check points. I was a little horrified about what would happen to us at the boarder as this is one of the main smuggling routes for drugs out of Near East Asia to Europe and we had this suspicious looking green hippy van and a big brown box inside. The Turks did not care a penny. All they wanted where our passports and they didnīt even have anyone looking inside the cars. At the greek side we could watch the car in front of us - a new Audi with german numberplates with a family and a small child inside - get checked thoroughly. So after the guy checking the passports didnīt even want to see hours the guy at the customs asked us if we had anything that we need to pay customs for or if we are in possession of any drugs. We said no to both and he had a glimpse in side the van and then let us through - yes in under 15 minutes we passed the boarder and we could have smuggled about 100 kilo drugs weapons of mass destruction or barby underwear in a very suspicious looking van with a very suspicious looking brown box into the European Union - that makes you feel save.
So we were back in Greece on the road and headed along the coast through Alexandroupi in direction Kavala. We knew that any stop before Kavala would not be nice so we drove along hitting Kavala while it was still Sunshine outside - to our surprise. Filling the car with a fresh tank of gasoline which was surprisingly cheap at 99 cent we drove through Kavala and came to a beautiful bay were we saw a nice spot to park on a high rocky cliff with access to the chrystal clear water below.
We instantly knew we hit one of the nicest beaches of mainland greece. Cooking us a nice dinner we started to relax for the first time in weeks.

Day 4
We had a nice day in the blue water with intact see life like see stars lots of fish sea anemones and those spiky things (that I stepped on twice and Willow had to get the spikes out cutting deep into my foot). Wandering to the little fishertown that was a little touristy but not too bad we even found an internet cafe were we could do some chores and a supermarket that was filled with everything you would suspect a supermarket to be filled with at very low prices - a refreshing view after Istanbul. So we bought food as needed had another dinner. For sunset we wanted to go up this mountain that was just behind our car. We didnīt find the way up but found a family of turtles in the bushes. Really this place is a last heaven for nature on European coastlines it seemed. Getting back to the car we saw a big group of people in front of a little chapel close to our car. So we decided to walk over there in our camping/beach wear just to find us surrounded by lots of people in suites and nicely dressed up - a greek wedding it was we just barely missed and got the last glimpse of it - very amusing. Getting back to the car we noticed the big loud electronic music getting to us over the bay. It was extremely loud and we could spot a bar or something similar were it came from - very far away. We decided not to go and go to sleep early - which proofed to be difficult as the music was on all night and also it seemed the place were we stayed was a hangout for young couples in love in the night with car moving behind us in 10 minutes frequency....

Day 5
Waking up from the heat after having a nice breakfast we decided to move along in direction Thessaloniki. The plan was to stay somewhere on the eastern coast of mainland Greece before Thessaloniki and then move across Greece the next day after a fresh night sleep.
Arriving on the said coast early afternoon we found it difficult to find a suitable beach especially with the spoilage that we had got the two night before. Driving far more south then we wanted we found an empty beach with only a German couple that was just about to leave. The beach was somehow clean but tons of stinking mussel shells, an plastic shelter of some fisherman and milliones of flies made it not the most pleasant stay. After heaving some dinner we just went to sleep straight away.

Day 6
After a thoroughly slept through night we headed toward Igomenitsa that is on the western side of mainland greece. Passing the sprawling industrial city of Thessaloniki we were confronted with a pay toll station on the road paying 2 Euros we hoped that the rest of the way would not be for pay (reminders of a 80 Euro pay toll in Serbia made us shiver). Driving through some plains it was evident that we would cross a huge mountain range that on our poor map was only marginally visible as such. Good old car climbing a newly build autobahn up and up until we came to a high plateau. The lack of gas station on the way made me a little worried - every 500 kilometer we needed. The high plane was dry and reminded me in its view a little bit of the high plains of Tibet - dusty dry high sparely inhabited. The newly build autobahn came to an end in the middle of the plains and driving off we found a gas station - only after filling in 20 Euros of gas I asked if he would take credit cards - shudder. We had 20 Euros in our pockets - not a cent more so paying off the confused guy we continued heading west. The high plain changed into an even higher mountain range with trees and valleys - a part of Greece that I really liked and that is as beautiful as the alps. Stocking up on some mountain spring water the path slowly winded down until we reached the end of the mountains and a huge fantastic lake in the bottom. With only 50 km left and sun still up high car running fine even after the mountain stress we didnīt notice that there was the continuation of the autobahn and stayed on the normal road. Somewhere in the late afternoon we arrived in Igomenitsa and decided to fin a suitable place to stay. So we drove a little bit more south to the next village looked at two too expensive for pay camping sites and then found a nice deserted beach on a side track. Water was clear two austrian VW-Bus Caravans parking there and two fishers hanging onto their fishing lines made us decide to stay there. After parking and starting to prepare dinner the woman of one of the caravans came over with her big dog and started a conversation. She told us that it would not be safe to stay there at the beach as Albania is too near and that the locals from the nearby town had told her that there had been a lot robberies in the area. She said we should stay with the other campers in the region inside the little town close on the beach. After little hesitation we agreed and after dinner drove off with her. The bay village was beautiful small and had a nice beach were you could drive near to. We were quite happy with our decision. In the evening we wandered around the town with its nice little harbor that had mostly sailing boats of all shapes and sizes. Then the night called and we slept under the Eucalyptus trees.

Day 7
Next "morning" after a small shopping round in the local "supermarket" and a wonderful breakfast we headed back to Igonmenitsa to check out our ferry options and prices. It seemed clear to us that we didnīt want to spend lots of time near Igomenitsa but we needed to bridge 3 days until we would meet my mom in southern Italy. So very spontaneous we decided to book a ferry to Corfu and then go from there to Italy. In a little rush we booked a ferry to southern Corfu as it was cheaper and we thought it might be nice to then drive up from the south to Corfu City in the mid-north were the ferry would leave. Our first idea after the nice boat trip to the Island was to drive down to the southern most tip and see what the beaches would look like and if we could stay there. Checking a big supermarket to fill up our dinner resources we arrived at said beach. Seeing brochures that touted Corfu with wonderful clear water and stone/pebble beaches we were quite shocked: it was the black sea again. Lots of rubbish on the beach, a brownish grey sandy beach and dark muddy water did not really invite us to stay - even so we would have been alone. So we decided to go further north and stay on the open ocean western side - a big mistake as we later learned. Driving through countless of wine yards and through deep forests of amazingly old olive trees we just couldnīt find a beach that we could stay at. All of the beaches were sandy with brownish water and most had no direct way to them for our car. We already settled with the option to stay in one of the spooky olive forests but then finally came to a beach that looked ok and that we could stay at - by that time we had been driving up to the heights of Corfu-City and we realized how small that Island really is. Dinner - walk on the beach - sleep.

Day 8
Waking up by the sound of splashing waves we found out that the see level must have been rising during the night. The beach was very close to the bit of concrete were we parked the car on. The weather wasnīt that great so after Willow had a little swim we decided to hit the road and go to Corfu City. Arrival at around noon in thick but rolling traffic we found a parking space in front of the big fort. Apparently a huge Cruise Ship from Princess Cruises had just arrived and the city was filled with posh english tourists. Overall was the town like a big tourist supermarket selling everything a tourist would want - jewelry, natural sponges, cheap strange t-shirt - the whole inner city was directed toward tourism. But we tried not to get distracted and hunt for our two missions - number one was to find an office that would sell us the ferry tickets - number two was to find a internet cafe so Willow could buy a flight ticket to England. Close to the harbor we thought that mission number one would be easy to accomplish - wrong. All the shops selling ferry tickets were closed and a guy next door told us that its siesta and that they wouldnīt open again until 6 p.m. great... spending a day in a 100% touristy city wasnīt really what we wanted to do but what can you do? Trying to find if the wonders of the public internet have arrived on a greek island. After asking around we actually did find a crammed internet place in a side street that even had a scanner for Willows school document to be scanned in and send over to the UK.
Finishing our business there we hung out a little longer on the city wall towards the water watching people swim in crystal clear water underneath - yes that was something we hadnīt seen since Karvala and put our hopes of finding the perfect beach up higher.
Two hours later we went to the Ferry ticket seller - a nice lady helped us through the process and suggested that we should go to the north east of Corfu instead for nice beaches with clear water. That we did and after the third try down some steep pathways we found what looked like a beach made in heaven - a little bay with white pebbles, water as clear as it can get, away from any streets and totally deserted. We parked the car a little beach inward behind some beach benches in front of what looked like a haunted abandoned house and cooked dinner with a beautiful sunset behind us encasing the Albanien mountains into a burning deep red and had a little night swim in the little tiny bit too cold water.

Day 9
Waking up the deserted beach seemed not as deserted as it first seemed. Tourists came rushing in and taking place on the benches. When we finally got out of the car and started to make breakfeast half the benches on the beach (about 30) where used and everyone seemed to stare at us - especially the german law student couple just in front of us that had nothing better to do then to debate about german laws while laying on this pretty beach. Not liking this much we ate some breakfast and went on a little hike to a little bay next to this. There were only about 5 people and a little boat and made ourself comfortable in a little side patch. Diving off some rocks and swimming we relaxed quite a bit for the first time since Kavala. In the afternoon we went back to the car and on another small hike in the other direction. Climbing down a steep path we came to some flat rocks that looked very nice and invited us get into the water - not really equipped to make a swim we decided to walk through the water back to our little bay - a very hilarious endeavor with waves splashing all over us - sudden walls that needed to be climbed along and funny looks from restaurant guest when we suddenly appeared out of the ocean at the little fishing harbor next to "our" beach. The late afternoon brought the desertion of the beach with it that we experienced the night before. Reparking the car to a little stretch that was not as occupied and after another relaxing swim and some dinner called it a night.

Day 10
Waking up in more private and after checking out the big wild fire across in Albania that raged over a whole mountain range we figured we would like a new location for our last day - the ferry would leave half past twelve in the night leaving us with another full day on the tourist island. We figured we would go alongside the coast up wand then west and see what we would come up with - not much. The so called "sunset beach" -advertised as one of Corfus nicest beaches was a little sandy beach with muddy water and looked not very inviting also hordes of tourists were streaming in its direction now again stuck on the west side we gave it another try and after driving through a lovely mountain range with pretty views and throw some mountain villages narrow steep roads we sighted a white marvelous beach around the corner. Trying to get there proved to be more difficult and involved leaving the car on a touristy large beach and then climbing alongside the cost over some rocks and through the water eventually leading us to our own little bay with white nice round pebbles, caves to be explored and healthy sealife in the lovely water. Two more person came by later from behind and settled on the beach for a while but other then that Corfu showed us its nice side on this last day. With the sun setting behind the Corfu mountains we started moving back in direction Corfu city and on the way made a little detour to a parking space behind some old small town with a spectacular view over the Island dipping in dark blue and the huge wild fires over in Albania where we cooked dinner next to some also dinner cooking Gypsies selling various plastic goods on their Truck. Arriving in Corfu around 10:30 we bought our port tax tickets and wondered around through the nightlife of the tourist owned city buying some fruit juice and enjoying the last minutes on the Island. Later we drove to the harbor were we waited for the ferry that came in too late and chatted to a lonely truck driver who was craving for company and told us about his plans to stop truck driving and open up a cafe in his home town - Thesaloniki. With the ferry arriving we got guided to a special for campervans place were we could stay and sleep without breathing in the diesel fumes all night. Then we left the Island of Corfu and headed towards Brindisi/Italy.
The upper deck of the ferry was nice but already a little cold through the heavy wind blowing in our faces as the boat steamed along pretty fast with fire particels spitting out of the chimneys. We had a last nice view on the few lights of on Corfu and could spot the beach where we stayed before. Also the wildfire was still burning in Albania and we could see a few cities there brightening the sky. After a while on deck (checking out the german or italian school class getting drunk and heaving a big party) and a small little chat with the truck driver we meet before we set out for the van and tried to sleep amid the constant roaring of the ferries diesel engines.

Day 11
I woke up and peeked outside through the curtains just to find the sky tined in the bright pink of the sunrise. Just seconds later a very loud voice through some loudspeakers tried to explain that we are arriving in Brindisi in a short while in 6 different languages and two times in a row - that woke up Willow as well. We got up immediately and went to the upper deck to see the oil refineries of Brindisi glitter in the darkness on one side and the pinky clouds before a sunrise on the other. We stayed and the sun touched us with her warmy rays a couple of minutes later. We stand there and watched it emerge from the deep ocean until we came close to the harbor and had to go back to the car. After the chaotic reorganization of all the cars an lorries on the ferry we finally got out and after a little security inspection - that again did not want to look into our brown suspicious box we arrived on mainland Italy.
Speaking with my mom earlier we agreed to meet her with what she said before would a minor detour to our route - the detour later proofed to be somewhat around 800 - 900 km. So driving from Brindisi on pretty empty roads land inwards and then south toward Catanzaro which is in the middle of the shoe that forms Italy. The landscape was not particularly interesting compared to what we had seen before - distant mountains, field with ripe grape, olive trees and a flat beach as far as you can see. Some 100 km away from our goal we stopped to check out the water which was rough and the beach was a little dirty - there we had some quick lunch with an extraordinarily good tasting tuna tomato sandwich composed by Willow. Driving along we figured that we would need to find a gas station somewhere which proofed to be not so easy. Either there were some machines that only accepted cash - which we didnīt have - or they were completely deserted (some cited priced of 95 cent per liter so they must have been closed for a long time as gas prices in Italy were particularly high at around 1,40 euro), slowly running out of gas we started to get worried. Then we arrived at a gas station that seemed to be in service but noone was there and the gas pumps locked. We figured - after consulting with the friends of my mom - that its siesta time for Italy and that the gas station simply closed until 4 oīclock. At the next station we stopped and waited and were lucky as the young people in charge showed up half and our early and gave us service and even accepted my depleted credit card. 45 minutes later we arrived at our destination town - Catanzaro Lido to meet up with the friends of my mom to get guided to the house were they stayed. The house was a really oasis among the dry olive tree dominated surrounding - with huge Palm Trees, different trees with citric fruits turtles running around and a large cage with exotic birds. Entering the inside we felt more then a little out of place - everything was ultra clean and posh and we felt very grudgy. The family consisting of two grandparents a couple with a 25 year old daughter the brother of the man in the house - Peppino a long term friend of my parents who own a nice italien restaurant in Berlin - made us feel welcomed and we took our first warm water shower since 8 weeks. Getting out nice and clean we got a tremendous pasta meal with pasta and some kind of fried potato stuffings. After finishing we were taking to an historic site were they still dig out extremely old building from different cultures - ranging back to the high greek culture - a huge church like castle ruin was the center piece and indeed very impressive. Further interesting was the fact that the dig site was used as a contemporary art installation which I found quite interesting and enjoyable. Heading back to the house we took a detour to the beach part of Catanzaro - Catanzaro Lido and had some amazing icecream on the beach promenade. Tired and done we got back to the house and found that it was dinner time again and we were served with some fresh meat and salad - even so we were extremely full already from the not so long ago dinner and the ice cream. After some further chat we went to the car that was parked in all safety in the garden - just to get eaten by blood hungry mosquitos all night.

Day 12
Being woken up by my mom who was getting nervous that we would never wake up we were presented the sunday family plan. First was talk about boat trip to vulcano islands in front of Sicilia. This was canceled due to weather considerations - the night before it had rained extremely hard in Napoli causing flooding and the family didnīt want any real adventure on some lonely islands in such rain - so we all opted for the safe family trip to a monastery in the southern Italy mountains that is source of speculation and rumor as the monks are never seen in public and you are only allowed to visit a small museum. More impressive then the closed for public monastery with its accompanied church was the mountain range we serpentined through to reach our final destination - a mushroom dishes only restaurant. It was mushroom picking time in the region and this was supposed to be a well known place to those. Arriving there we were presented with a very loud huge dining hall with hundreds of people inside. The middle formed a birthday crowd of about 50 people for a 90 year old lady. After a short while waiting we were seated at a special table that was setup for us (apparently our hosts knew the owner or something). The dinner was extremely delicoush with four successive parts. Mushroom salad thigy, Pasta with mushrooms, wild pig with deep fried mushrooms (holy that was good), and some special extremely tasty kind of half frozen chocolate ice cream (without mushrooms). Completely filled up almost unable to walk we headed back to the house but then made a decision to see the actual town of Catanzaro which was build on top of a spiky mountain and had suffered an earthquake in the 18th century. Now the town streches across three mountain peaks that are connected with futuristic looking bridges. Peppino took us all the up to a lovely viewpoint - the highest point in the city. Getting up there we passed through a museum building and the exhibition looked quite promising - the oldest collection of Italien history. We bought a ticket and went in. What we saw was amazingly old art and culture mostly taken out of ceremonial burying sites. Ultra small pieces of gold and coper thingies with beautiful engravings - we surely got our history lesson for the day there. A little overwhelmed we got out to find that it had rained when we were inside we headed back to see the family prepare for dinner - needless to say that we were already stuffed by the huge lunch meal but we bait and after watching some italien music television ate two more rounds of delicious but too much food. With us next day leaving we sat down with the locals and got shown where we should drive and where there is a toll fee on the autobahns and how we could avoid it. It looked all a little unpromising as finally our trip time was running out and we originally planned for just one more overnight stay in Italy - the distance was huge that we had to bridge and we got told that we should plan for more time as the route we are taking is one of Italys most beautiful.

Day 13
Not getting out of bed in time next day and after the not so good Italien breakfast of a ready made chocolate filled croissant and the obligatory tea (that we had each and every morning throughout the whole trip) we said goodbye to the family and my mom and headed first west toward the western coast on Italy and then north direction Napoli - Rom - Pisa. Shortly before Napoli very heavy rain set in and we had to drive with zero sight for more then two hours. After Napoli we decided not to take a recommended detour at the Vesuv vulcano as it was already 4 p.m. and we wanted to reach Pisa that day. The clouds were just disappearing and we had a wonderful view on the once so destructive Volcano. A little later our journey almost came to an unexpected end - at a construction site the german camper vw bus of newer age in front of me was coming to an immediate stop at 60 km/h my car not heaving the best breakes and no ABS system with sliding towards the van and there seemed not much that could prevent us from crashing. Somehow I managed to figure out that the other site of the road was not having any traffic and in the last moment I was able to pull over almost loosing control of the car that was breaking out and lingering toward the road barrier on the other side only happily to come to a full stop - thanks to the outer powers that may be. Driving along another 20 meters we saw that someone in front of us didnīt have as much luck and crashed into a car in front. With a little shock inside and much more space in fron of us we continued our drive direction Rome getting of the autobahn soon after and driving along a pretty road with pine trees. Missing to hit the sea for sunset we got a little lost in our trial to pass Rome on the seaside without touching it. After loosing 2 hours madly driving around (again due to our total bad map that we still used) we got on road that led to the autobahn ring around rome - something that we could have had much easier. Passing Rome pretty fast and off the autobahn again we made quite a good headway even trhough heavy heavy rain and arrived in a town on the coast just 50 km away from Pisa. Firstly we tried to find a wild beach but only got to Caravan camping places with big signs "wild camping not allowed" a first on our tour. Then driving through the town eventually we came to a small parking lot far enough away from the city that was on some beach and a Belgian camper already parked on it - so we thought it would be ok for one night even with all the signs trying to prevent us from doing so - also it was heavy raining and we had a long driving day behind us so we wanted some rest.

Day 14
The beach were we stopped proved to us what we expected extremely toursiticly exploited with tons of restaurants and every meter was somehow touched and altered by mankind. Having breakfast with a nice view on sardinia that was shaping up behind the fog and watching some builders take down wooden houses that had been their for the tourist high season for them to change their cloth. We said goodbye to the Mediterranean for this trip as from that point onward our last part of the tour would take us north away from the sea. So we started to drive toward Pisa circumvented the town and head into the first mountain range driving up a serpentine road we could see the angled tower of piesa sticking out of the town. The following road was very windy but also brought us through some lovely viallages with old stone bridges and dense forests. Very mystic atmosphere and slowly changing from an Italien feeling to a more German/Austrian mountain feeling. At the other side of the mountains after driving for three hours we stopped and had some mushroom pasta as our own supplies of food were running low and we anticipated that we would not arrive in the alps until very late and would maybe not be able to eat dinner. Also we had been very hungry probably because it was a lot colder then the rest of our trip and we had been stuffed the two day before so much. The little Tavern was very rustic and the owner was sleeping when we first walked in. We opened and closed the door again so the little bell would ring and he finally woke up. Getting filled up and having one of the best cakes in my life - something with crushed walnuts and chocolate - we continued north. Arriving at the flat part of Italy that surrounds the river Po we decided time is running fast and hit the autobahn for the next 200 km. Then leaving it again after the plains when there was a clear yellow road next to the autobahn and starting to slowly winding into the Alps - finally. The sunset presented the valley we drove into mystically as the mountains rose higher and higher around us and us slowly driving upward. Somewhere along the last 600km we decided not to go back over the Brenner pass but to take a last detour and driving into northern Europe through the Jaufen pass (2.500 meters high) into the Öztal. After a little looking we found the right road off and started a night climb with the trusty old van. Passing another valley with two big lit up cities that looked marvelous from above we arrived at the street that leads to the pass. We slowly climbed up and up and up and tried to look for a nice spot to stay for the night. Driving along two roads that led to fenced of gates (one we had to reverse with a drop of about 100 meters downward on one site - all in pitch darkness) we got tired and felt lost - there was just no way to park safely - so we decided if all else fails we will drive over the pass during the night. All of the sudden a red light marked the street reminding us that the pass is closed during the night, luckily just before the red light we saw a little passage to a cottage to the right that looked safe and a little more private then just staying on the road. We found it again and parked there. I again seemed to be hungry and we started cooking dinner (willow did we chopping up vegies and cleaning the car a bit) when the stove stopped working midthrough cooking. We knew we had another gas container somewhere but even after looking for half an hour we gave up and ate the half cooked veggies like they were (was not as bad as it sounds) and wondered what happened to the other gas filling - falling asleep as we wondered.

Day 15
We woke up by the sound of horses being put into a trailer right next to the van (as you might have noticed there was ALWAYS something little wrong with the places we stayed at) and found ourself above the tree line in the high mountains - a drastic change to the view over the ocean we had every other morning throughout the trip. Taking a nice refreshing face wash in the 4 degree cold mountain spring water that was rushing down next to the van we watched some germans group put on their walking boots and head off into the mountains - and had no tea as the gas stove was empty - and the fresh clean mountain air. Then we continued to head up up up along the road. It was steeper then I had envisioned and the car had to be put in second sometimes even first gear to even get up. Somewhere below the pass we passed another old VW bus which made us confident that we can make it up as well. Shortly under the pass we had a nice last view over Italy from very very high above - a scenery of lush valleys and harsh high mountains engulfed in white puffy clouds. Into one of those we drove just 20 meters further and reached the pass at 2.500 meter with ice freezing over the little grass that was next to the road. Freezing and no nice view we decided to continue paying 10 Euros for the usage of that road. Just after the toll pay station was a little hut like cafe/bar - one of those you find in the winter near skilifts. We parked the car and got in to get a tea that we still didnīt have had - I needed to interact in german with them which was a strange feeling after such a long time. The place was quite busy even so the road was sporting only about three other cars apart from ours and we found out that it was the day when all the shepherds would get their sheep from the high alms and take them down into the stallings in their villages. Sitting their sipping on our tea for a while we saw the shepherds coming down with some 100 sheep or so. We found the two very small baby sheep to be very cute and somehow it was a fitting conclusion to our journey with the shepherd in Turkey in our second night. We started to roll down into the valley and it started to clear up a little. The valley which I only knew from the winter was very lovely with lush green lawns, high snowcovered mountains around and a bright white - blue river going through. Getting down into one of the villages we bought some fresh croissants and finally a good brown leaf of bread. Picking up a brochure at the local tourist information we figured it would be nice to go up with the aerial ropeway(?is that the english word for it?) to the local glacier up 3000 meters - but first we would need a new gas tank for our stove so that we can have dinner.
Getting into town we found quite a few tracking equipping places but all were closed - never knew that the Austrians had siesta as well. Getting to the place were the ropeway starts we could see no carriers go up or down. When we ask the lady behind the ticket counter she told us that they stopped service until the winter since last sunday - two days to late we thought. The only other way up was with a glacier road that leaded up to 2.850 meter with driving right into the glacier. We took the challenge even so the toll was something around 15 euros. So the car crawling upwards (not so easily) there was no glacier in sight until the very end. We could see a a ski slope in use that was more mud, dirt and little ice then anything that could resemble snow. We decided to hike up a little as the view cleared up quite well and we were above the clouds we hope to have a nice view. The climb up without any good equipment was quite a challenge but up the mountain another 300 meter (to around 3150 meter) we were in complete private with total silence the sun out and a beautiful view - very relaxing.
Driving down proofed to be more of a challenge to the car then up, it was a very very steep road and somehow I had forgotten that you should put the car in a low gear when driving down. When we arrived down in the town the front tires were smoking - yes white plumes of thick smelly smoke were coming from underneath the car and some sprinkles of some fluid was forming on the tire. Little worried we first got into the shop to get a new gas tank for the stove - which they had. Getting back to the car that still was smoldering a little I started up the engine and first thought that all was good but driving off the parking lot and trying to break I could find the breakpoint on the pedal not to be available and the brakes not really working at all - only after some pumping I got them back but only momentarily. Getting a little nervous that we would find a nice place to sleep in time before it got dark on our last night that we really wanted somewhere nice without any problems we called the ADAC - the automobile club that takes care in case of problem. They told us that the official service station is already closed and that we should ask somewhere in town if there is a small garage. We went to a nearby shoe store and ask the lady if she new if there is someone in town taking care of cars that would still be open. She pointed us to a shell gas station just outside the village. We thanked her and shortly later found the gas station. The young guy was happy to tell me that there was only air in my breaking fluid because I had too old breaking fluid with me and that he would exchange the breaking fluid right away. We happily watch him lifting the car high up under the ceiling and only 10 minutes later he was finished and we had working brakes again. Driving along down the valley we now set out to look for a good place to stay and after taking a little side road until the end we ask a lady in a little restaurant if we could stay on the lawn behind her house. She agreed and we had found our last resting, peaceful in the bright, safe, quite and out of the way. Cooking our last delicious gas stove dinner and tidying up the car a last time we felt our little climb and had a nice relaxing sleep in the mountains.

Day 16
The morning brought us the farmer who had to pass by us and we needed to move the van a little (always something) then we made a monumental breakfast and the last tea on the road and ate it atop a little hill with sunshine above and the valley in front of us. After the last relaxing moments we slowly started our very last part driving. Getting out of the valley and onto an autobahn we stopped for gas and then headed north through the mountains again and after a much lower pass into Germany crossing southern Bavaria with some nice lakes and onto the good old German autobahns. Shortly after Munich we had a little traffic jam that caused a one hour delay and then head on. After the East-German boarder got into another traffic jam and then somewhere around 11-12 p.m. and some 1.000 km later we finally arrived in close range to home just to get stopped by two cars. Policemen in civil seriously wanted to search the bus for drugs. After explaining to them that we just came from Istanbul and had been through numerous borders and just want to go to sleep they let us go (trying to say "good night" to willow in one of the worst english I have heard on the whole trip) - a yes I felt home in our police state again.

The End
We drove around 3.500 km total on the way back seeing some of the most beautiful beaches and places in Southern Europe but also the most catastrophic environmental disasters that lead us to believe in bleak future for earths oceans and nice beaches. The trip was entertaining, romantic, lovely and full of surprises and unexpected turns - no for pay tourist package could give you that much experience and freedom. I want to thank Willow for sticking with me the whole time - making the trip a little more unplanned and all the friendly people we met during the trip who offered us advise shelter and food, my mom for taking care of us in our little stop in between and the higher spirits that made us get home safe - and the trusty green VW Bus from 1986 that happily carried us along all the dusty streets high mountains, through rain and heat without complaining and without seriously breaking down even once.