Recently, I got the following fortune cookie. How "nice"!

Fortune Cookie

I find it highly ironic and amusing that a fortune cookie--of all things man-made, yes, the same kind of fortune cookie that has been "sticking its nose" in other people's business ever since its inception--dumps its opinion about talking of things you don't understand on me.

But I guess it's better than this one of unknown origin (which has been floating around on the internet for about a million years and is most likely photoshopped):

Chinese Fortune Cookie

(Yeah, I played with iPhoto there to give the photo up there the look it has now -- a simple pic looked too boring.)

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Germany has predicted that its economy will shrink by 2.25% in 2009, which would be its worst performance in the post-World War II era.

BBC: German economy faces gloomy 2009

"Great" timing for me to start my first full-time job ever sigh -- on the upside, though, it can only get better from here ;)

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Oh, oh, I got hit by an Internet meme. Both Rey and Wladimir demand my participation, and by the laws of teh Internets™ I shall comply.

The rules:

  1. Link to your original tagger(s) and list these rules in your post.
  2. Share seven facts about yourself in the post.
  3. Tag seven people at the end of your post by leaving their names and the links to their blogs.
  4. Let them know they've been tagged.

Seven things:

  1. I am slightly color blind (my uneducated guess would be "deuteranomaly", or mild green weakness). It's apparently the most common form of colorblindness, affecting about 6% of males, and I have no considerable problems because of it. Except it may make me not the ideal person to ask about the color combination of clothes (which may arguably be a blessing). I've known since the medical exam before elementary school, yet at the military exam, the woman testing my eyes thought she was making a great discovery and shouted out "you are colorbind!!!" -- I yawned.
  2. I learned to read well before attending elementary school while I was still in kindergarten. (Don't know how others do it, but in Germany, at least at that time, it wasn't taught before first grade). I picked it up out of curiosity from my brother who is two years older and went to school already.
  3. I took Latin all the way from 5th through 13th grade. It was one of my two advanced courses for graduation (the other one was Math), and I am unsure how, but I got an A+ for both the written and oral exam. Needless to say it didn't end up being particularly relevant in college, nonetheless it was fun and I'd do it again. And no, I cannot actually speak Latin.
  4. I have been playing the trumpet since I was 14 years old. It's one of my favorite things to do yet I got to do it way too little lately due to writing my master's thesis. I've played in a number of groups: orchestral, big band, and in a trumpet quartet. Some of the most fun but also most exhausting gigs were at the yearly congresses of the Association of Catholic Fraternities in Germany, with hundreds of attendees.
  5. I do not have a particular accent in German: While I have lived in south-western Germany all my life, my parents are not from there, and theirs isn't very strong, so I didn't pick up a particularly distinct accent. Nonetheless up until this day, I still get asked "you are not from here, are you?" at home sometimes, particularly by the elderly. The closest I have to a dialect however is indeed from south-west Germany, which I sometimes notice when I use apparent localisms too freely elsewhere in Germany and earn question marks in return (food items seem to differ the most!).
  6. I have more than only remotely considered studying law. I ended up studying information engineering instead, as it looked like a great middle ground between law and my big hobby, computers (with some business thrown in, for good measure): It's 40 % computer science, 40 % business and 20 % law. And in fact, I loved studying this, and the law classes were my favorites, hands down. What I didn't realize until later is that as opposed to real future lawyers, we got the interesting topics only. Awesome!
  7. I attended three universities: Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Oregon State University and Carnegie Mellon University, all to finish this one degree. Curiously, the only one I paid tuition for was/is KIT, luckily also the cheapest.

Seven harassees:

  1. JP, who needs to blog more, for his PageRank to recover
  2. Freya, who I am secretly hoping will actually vlog this meme
  3. Justin, who I always get confused about living in the same time zone with
  4. morgamic, who I already got to work with in two places
  5. clouserw, who we all want to know more about, don't we?
  6. Polvi, for being one of the most creative people I know
  7. Brian King, for being an awesome add-on magician

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[caption id="attachment_1931" align="alignright" width="240" caption="\"Pollution\", CC by-nc-sa licensed by Gilbert R. on flickr"]"Pollution", CC by-nc-sa licensed by Gilbert R. on flickr[/caption]Here's an "award" the city of Pittsburgh would probably prefer not to have "won". According to the 2008 American Lung Association’s State of the Air report, Pittsburgh is the number one U.S. city most polluted by short-term particle pollution.

  1. Pittsburgh, Pa.
  2. Los Angeles/Long Beach/Riverside, Calif.
  3. Fresno/Madera, Calif.
  4. Bakersfield, Calif.
  5. Birmingham, Ala.
  6. Logan, Utah
  7. Salt Lake City, Utah
  8. Sacramento, Calif.
  9. Detroit, Mich.
  10. Baltimore, Md./Washington, D.C./Northern Virginia.

The US Environmental Protection Agency's flyer "Particle Pollution and your Health" says about short-term pollution:

Short-term exposures to particles (hours or days) can aggravate lung disease, causing asthma attacks and acute bronchitis, and may also increase susceptibility to respiratory infections. In people with heart disease, short-term exposures have been linked to heart attacks and arrhythmias. Healthy children and adults have not been reported to suffer serious effects from short-term exposures, although they may experience temporary minor irritation when particle levels are elevated.

On the year-round pollution scale, the city ranks almost equally as bad: Trading spots with the "short term" number 2, Los Angeles, Pittsburgh was the second most polluted city in the country, year-round.

  1. Los Angeles/Long Beach/Riverside, Calif.
  2. Pittsburgh, Pa.
  3. Bakersfield, Calif.
  4. Birmingham, Ala.
  5. Visalia/Porterville, Calif.
  6. Atlanta, Ga.
  7. Cincinnati, Ohio
  8. Fresno/Madera, Calif.
  9. Hanford/Corcoran, Calif.
  10. Detroit, Mich.

Only in the third discipline, Ozone pollution, Pittsburgh doesn't rank among the top 10.

Link to the condensed lists, or look at the stateoftheair website for nice Google Maps overlays, and to find out how your city is doing.

(Thanks, Tara, for the link!) -- (Photo "Pollution", CC by-nc-sa licensed by Gilbert R. on flickr)

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Happy new year, everybody!

Happy New Year 2009

I wish you good, painless new year's celebrations and a fabulous and in-spite-of-it-all successful year 2009. Don't let a "slowing economy" and any other horror stories in the news put you off your personal pursuit of happiness. There are better times ahead!

(funny ecard motive from -- and no, I am not on ADs; I am needlessly optimistic enough on my own ;) )

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Dear Readers!

Merry Christmas from snowy Idaho! I haven't been posting anything lately as I am busy taking trips, eating good food, and similar things, and I hope you are equally unconcerned with the Internet these days :)

Here's a pic from our recent sledding in the Idahoan mountains. The snow here is awesome!


These are Tara's cousins. Of course, when I tried to gain a similar amount of air, I always crashed ;)

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Looks like I need to catch up on the movie front:

Film Addict has a nice little quiz on how many of the IMDB top 250 movies you've seen. I got an embarrassing 25.6% which tells me that both, I didn't have Netflix long enough quite yet, and I need to get done with my master's thesis so I can watch more movies ;) .

How do you score? Let me know in the comments.

(via kottke)

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There's been a nice little meme going on in the Mozilla blogosphere during this last week: Running your blog through the wordle "word cloud" generator, then posting it. Here is mine:

Wordle on fredericiana

Comes to no surprise that "German" and "Germany" are two of the most-used words here -- I sure hope I am not boring my readership to death by giving them intercultural lessons here :)

Anyway, if you post yours, feel free to send a ping to this article, or leave a comment with the link to your blog. I am looking forward to seeing how others' word clouds look!

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So I stumbled across this "How Many Countries Can You Name?" Quiz where you need to name as many (sovereign) country names as you can in 5 minutes.

I got a 59 at my first try, while the average is 57 (even though some people take it many times, as the result screen notes).

I do admit it's hard to think of so many countries in very limited time -- and sometimes I pathetically failed at guessing the English spelling of a country's name as well, such as Mauritania, Kazakhstan, and others...

How many can you come up with?

(via Violent Acres, who got, uhm, slightly less)

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A little technical side note:

On Thanksgiving, November 27 between 5am and 7am UTC our server host will perform upgrades on their network infrastructure, leaving this website (and all other domain names and services associated with its server) unavailable for probably about half an hour.

Sorry in advance for the inconvenience.

You should be sleeping at the time anyway ;)

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