Saturday, 30 June 2012

Photo wonder app

People thinking of plastic surgery should play with Photo Wonder app first to Fix and see how they look.

I edited a picture of me:
First pic before
Second pic after editing

Friday, 29 June 2012

Country

This iconic image was taken two years ago at that wonderful small family farm in Mosfellsdalur that Óðinn has gone to with his (formerleikskóli for the past three years. While trying to find info for the farm (which you are more than welcome to visit - an especial treat for children!) I found this website, Nature.is, (or Náttúran.is) which promotes itself as "an eco-conscious network" and a Green Pages for all things environmentally-friendly here in Iceland.

As lots of you know, this is one of the main reasons I love blogging: I find something new and fascinating every time : )

(Speaking of fascinating, if you haven't already, do go read Bayard Taylor's 19th century travelogue Egypt and Iceland in the year 1874. The link takes you to a scanned copy of the original work via Archive.org that you can read online in e-book format. Skip to page 197 for Bayard's adventures in Iceland.)

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Solstice

In Iceland it is also possible to find three-legged ginger cats hanging out by seaside football fields at midnight on the Summer Solstice. And young men dreaming of lands far, far away...

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Father's Day 2012

Father's day always falls on the third Sunday of June. The kids know it. But, fathers (or maybe only my father) probably don't know it. So, on the SECOND Sunday of June, one of my dad''s friend wished him Happy Father's Day..... OBVIOUSLY my dad felt disappointed that 'his friend' wished him but NONE of his kids did! I was in Langkawi at that time and I received a text from my mum about dad's displeasure. This kind of thing pisses me off!

Anyway, OBVIOUSLY my siblings and I WILL do something for OUR father on Father's Day. My brother returned from Penang. I bought a shirt for dad in Langkawi as a present. My younger sister was in charge of making the Father's Day card.

We planned a dinner at home instead of going out for one. We celebrated on a Saturday since my brother had to leave to Penang again on Sunday evening. I invited my grandfather and aunty for the celebration. That night, I found out from my aunt that my grandma's birthday was on 12th April, my older sister's birthday was on 12th May, and my grandpa's birthday was on 12th June! I didn't know my grandparent's birthday for the past 20 years or so.

This post is longer than usual because I am using my laptop to blog instead of the iphone. Since coming back to KL, my laptop refuses to work with Unifi connections. Hence, the lack of my existence in Skype, msn, replying emails...etc. Using the Iphone to blog can be a pain at times because the photos uploaded are not allowed to be in between paragraphs. Only at the bottom of the post. Furthermore, the chances of a typo is higher.

Anyway, back to the Father's Day celebration, the menu were as below:

APPETIZER:
Two types of spring rolls and my brother's special sauce.


For appetizers, we had samosa spring rolls and crabstick cream cheese spring rolls. The sauce was a last minute concoction by my brother, which was brilliantly delicious :)

MAIN COURSE:
Tom Yam seafood - crab, prawns, fishball

Mummy's beef rendang


DESSERT:
Dessert was two types of cheesecake. Daddy gets the heart shaped cotton cheese cake, while grandpa gets the rich cream cheese filled cake.





The food looked little but it was actually very filling and satisfying. Nothing beats homecooked meals :)

Grandpa had a cake too because we decided to have a belated birthday celebration for him.
Grandpa is 75 years old now!!



Grandpa with his son and daughter


The family

In the kitchen preparing the dessert and washing dishes

Daddy and us!

3 generations of Che










It was my first try writing words with melted chocolate onto the cheesecakes.

At the end of the night, dad, gx, ty and hazel played ginrummy. Grandpa left early because he wanted to go home to watch football, while my aunty had another function to go to. I was pretty tired.

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Puffin

GUEST PHOTOGRAPHER: Birgir Gilbertsson

Happy 17th of June Independence Day, Iceland! Today we have a guest photographer, Birgir Gilbertsson, an optometrist at Optical Studio in Smáralind who has an excellent eye for Icelandic nature!

Here's what he writes about this very pretty puffin photo:

This picture was taken out at Dyrhólaey and it was the first time I ever went there. There was a lot of Lundi there and they were so used to have people close to them, that they didn't even bother. This one bird was a little bit closer than the others and I crawled slowly towards him. I managed to get very close and was very exited about that, started taking pictures and got that great shot :)

I love the moments when you have your camera with you and you get "lucky"! 


I've never met Birgir, who is also a triathlete and an Ironman finisher in his spare time, but through a twist of fate where I mistakenly thought that he had taken a certain gorgeous photo* and contacted him to see if I could use it, we began a light correspondance. Since he is also into amateur photography, I thought it would be fun to have him share his work here. He sent me a few shots to consider, and when I saw this little lundi I knew it would fit right in here on Iceland Eyes : )

*The photographer who took this shot admits to having added Photoshopped in the water and the reflection in it of our Harpa concert hall. It's a stunning shot and well conceptualized, but not reality.

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Fatter as years go by

I just looked back at my photos in USA and I can't believe I used to think I was fat that time. Now, I look at my recent photo, I am definitely fatter now. Dear me, what has Malaysia done to me.. Time to head back to USA *hint hint*

Langkawi trip

I just came back from my four days trip to Langkawi. I love the island so much that I visit it every year. Will blog more on it soon!

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Blómadagur


















































Someone told me that it's Blómadagur, or Flower Day, again on Skólavörðurstígur, though I'll have to
go wandering about myself to find out how reputable my source is since I can't find anything on the interwebs to confirm it.

In the meantime, here's a reposting of a classic Iceland Eyes photo from June 2006. The original text read:

The Saturday before last was Flower Day in Reykjavik. I went for a stroll with Óðinn in his belly pack and noticed that just about every woman I passed on Skólavörðurstígur (the street leading up to the big church) held a rose in her hand. Valentína, who was holding a tombóla with Marsibil at the top of Skólavörðurstígur told me when I went to visit their enterprise (they made over $25 each that day!) that someone was handing out flowers to women downtown, though she didn't know who. I didn't make it far enough on my walk to find out, but I did see this charming group of people with their watering cans. It must have been an acting troupe....they were very cute and kind of pranced about watering things like parking meters and garbage cans. We definitely more of this type of urban attraction here in our little city!

Have you tried Dynamic Viewing yet? Five new views in all. Use the blue tab at the top of the view page to check them all out : )

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Ain't No Homos Gonna Make it to Heaven


A couple of days ago a child, identified as a four year old, was invited up to the pulpit in the Apostolic Truth Tabernacle Church in Greensburg, Indiana.  There he sang the following passage three times:

The Bible's right, somebody's wrong.
The Bible's right, somebody's wrong.
Romans one, twenty six and twenty seven;
Ain't no homos gonna make it to Heaven.

Leaving aside the grotesque crimes of the double-negative and the verb-noun agreement, the Christian congregation burst into cheers and cries of support, effectively rewarding the child for spouting forth this hatred.  The video can be watched here.

It is quite clear that the child is a victim in this.  Just like children in the 3rd Reich, indoctrinated to revile the mythical Jew figure, he presumably has no understanding of what a "homo" has.  He and other children will grow up hating them, whoever and whatever they come to represent to him, his family and the community of his church.  Pity him if at 13 or 14 he discovers he is one himself.  Pity any other gay person he ever comes into contact with, including possible family members, later in life.

Apostolic Truth Tabernacle: if this is truth, God help us

The anti-gay hatred that is being whipped up across the United States currently is following the political movement to give same sex marriage equality.  The struggle follows closely the pattern of the civil rights movement in the 1960s: states on the East and West coasts pressing on with equality whilst large swathes of the middle of the country resist.

The epicentres of hate are once more small rural Christian communities.  Substitute "n****r" for "homo" and we are right back there again.  Racism was justified on the basis of scripture for centuries.  The Dutch Reformed Church in South Africa claimed political apartheid was part of God's commandment until the early 90s.  Christian preachers in segregated communities lectured on the evils of "black" music such as jazz and rock and resolutely supported the oppression of a minority based on Jesus' word.  Of course the perversion of - at least what I understand as - actual Christian teachings is breathtaking.

As I have quoted before on this blog, in the short history of the civil rights movement there is one recurrent truth; the group fighting for equal rights, sooner or later, wins.  Legal battles in Washington will determine the outcome here once again, but the damage being done is immense.

The debate on marriage equality has been (for the large part) conducted here with much more British reserve.  Those at the vanguard of opposing it have, of course, been Christians, but there has always been a sugar coating that people like the Archbishop of York put on it.  This, yesterday on Twitter, was a rare slipping of the mask:

(Tweet since deleted by the author)

Those against marriage equality in this country, like it or not and deny it or not, are aligning themselves with the likes of people at the Apostolic Truth Tabernacle.  They are seeking to discriminate against a group of people on no other basis than "we have it, so you can't."  I perceive attempts to stop same-sex marriage as a direct homophobic attack on me, my friends, and on my community.  To deny us this is to say we are different, second class, deserving of less - however you dress it up.  You may politely  say "You know, I fear this may in time undermine the basis of a long standing institution" over a nice cup of tea, or you may stand up in church and shout and cheer to "Ain't no homos gonna make it to heaven".  You are saying the same thing.

The language of hate is vicious, it affects people in unknown ways and it sends long lasting ripples around the world.  It is 2012, not 1964 or 1933.  This has to stop.

If you have not already done so, please visit the C4EM website and fill out the government consultation on same-sex marriage.  It only takes a moment and there is just over a week left.













Monday, 4 June 2012

The Sins of our Fathers

Troubled Descendents

A little while ago the BBC ran a startling article about the "troubled descendents" of various Nazis.  It is a heart-breaking description of the way that having a relative involved in the Nazi regime continues to affect people born long after the event.  Bettina Göring's story in particular had me in tears: she and her brother had had themselves sterilised to bring the genetic line to an end.  It wasn't their father who was Hermann Göring, but their great-uncle.


Katrin Himmler, Heinrich's Great Niece

Similarly I remember years back reading Katrin Himmler's book "The Himmler Brothers".  Her grandfather was Heinrich Himmler's younger brother.  She herself was born in 1967 and married an Israeli.  Her book is an incredibly admirable, honest work, but you can't help seeing the weight of personal guilt and pain throughout.

Growing up Half German

I am half German and grew up there pretty much the first 12 years of my life (we had two years in Hong Kong in the middle).  I love the fact I was brought up speaking German with my Mutti, and English with my father.  I love the fact that I have two countries to call home: I go there a good ten times a year most years and feel as home in Hamburg or Munich as I do in London.  My dual nation perspective allows me both an outsider's and an insider's view on the strengths and weaknesses of both countries.

Bonus: Get to dress up in Lederhosen!

The "weight" of growing up connected to Germany is something I know well about, perhaps more than Germans do.  There were various utter twats at school when we returned to Hampshire who me gave Nazi salutes (in the 80s) and told me I'd killed their grandfather.  I blogged last Remembrance Sunday about what I consider to be need of some British to grow up and get over this: it doesn't bother me, so much as make me feel genuinely a bit sorry for them being caught in this time warp.

The BBC story did affect me though.  I don't have any big hidden revelations about my family's role in the war.  My Grandfather was excused military service until late, because he was an essential worker, an inspector on the Reichsbahn.  He then fought as a private on the Russian Front in the last months of the war and spent 6 months in a Siberian prisoner of war camp.  The family were ordinary, reasonably well off farmers miles from anywhere in provincial West Prussia (as far east of Berlin as the Dutch border is west).  They were undoubtedly Nazi and loyal to the regime (I'd love you to read their story during the war if you are interested: this was my first ever blog, written after my Omi died.)  They were just caught up in events as tens of millions of others were across Europe.

Kurt Hermann Wittulski, my Opa

I do still remember my Omi telling me when I was about 11 that Hitler was a very bad man.  When I asked why, she told me they had lost everything because of him - even as a child I remember thinking "not because he murdered all those Jews?"  I try not to judge her, or other elderly members of my family.  I grew up loving them dearly.  I understand that times were very different, that their educational standards were poor, that they were "fed" hatred dressed up in the most perverse way by the regime.  I know them as kind, basically good people.  I have heard far worse racist utterings from English relatives than from them, and I admire their attempts to talk honestly about the period.

I suppose I know, most importantly, that if these attitudes have persisted that is the individual responsibility of the relative involved, not mine.  I am linked to them by DNA, not in my opinions and outlook.  I will try to challenge them on it gently, but I won't "own" the thought.

My Personal Guilt

On this point, we come back to Bettina Göring.  It was a core philosophy of Nazi criminal theory that repeat offenders ("Berufsverbrecher") were congenitally predisposed to crime, because of their genes and "blood".  Involuntary sterilisation was one way of "dealing" with them (this particularly applied to Gypsies).  Whole families were punished after the failed Hitler assassination attempt of 20 July 1944 because of guilt through genetic association.  There is a cruel irony that clearly on some level, these theories seem to have persisted for two siblings, so repulsed at the actions of their great-uncle, to have undergone voluntary sterilisation.

I first went to Israel when I was 18.  I take groups of High School students to the concentration and death camps.  I have visited 10 of them myself privately, or with groups I am leading.  I do wonder whether this is motivated on some level by "guilt" at being half German.  I can't really judge by sub-conscious, but a) don't think it is; and b) don't care if it is.  I think that there is a massive lesson to be learned from these places, and it isn't an abstract one about something the Germans did 70 years ago.  It is an enquiry into the nature of prejudice, tolerance and it is about learning about how to lead our lives today.

My British grandfather was born in 1880.  He ran away from his home in the New Forest and lied about his age to join Queen Victoria's army.  He served in the Boer War, in which 26,000 South African women and children perished in the new British invention, the "concentration camp".  He rose to rank of Sergeant Major and spent over 15 years in India, before returning to fight against the Germans in the World War One trenches.

My grandfather Douglas, front row, centre left

Some terrible events occurred during the British Empire.  There were also good aspects: as with most historical questions there are many shades of grey and it is way too simplistic to be black or white about a long, complicated period that had so many aspects and so many effects.  As regards the (undoubted many) crimes, do I feel personal guilt about my Grandfather's involvement in this?  Truly I don't.  I am me: I am responsible for my views and my behaviour, not for those of someone who died in 1954 long before I was born.

When I was in South Africa I did go out of my way to visit Mafeking, but I did the same thing at Vicksburg, yet have have absolutely no connection with the American Civil War.  I'm just interested in history.  Mafeking did have a slightly difference resonance, because I knew my Grandfather had been there, but that is the extent of it.

People and Governments

Given the above, it's no great surprise to hear that I really do not feel that Germans today should feel guilt at what happened from 1933-45 - even if they are related to the perpetrators.  The same applies to the British for the crimes that occurred during our Empire, to the Americans for what they did to the Native American population, for Australians and their treatment of the Aboriginals, for Catholics regarding South America during the Inquisition etc, etc.  Because the Third Reich was so off the scale terrible in the extent of its crimes, I know every thinking German will have been through this question much more deeply than any other nation, however.

This, however, is in my view a different question entirely how a government deals today with episodes from its past.  (West-) Germany has for the most part taken an extraordinary position of responsibility and openness regarding the Third Reich.  Germany has a very special responsibility, as the country of the perpetrators, to teach, to learn, to using its resources as part of this, and to own up to the crimes committed by its former government.  This is critically different to individuals sterilising themselves.

Munich's Main Synagogue. I just love this building right in the City Centre

Jewish life is again flourishing across Germany: it has the world's fastest growing Jewish population and Munich's Jewish population is back to 1933 levels, for example.  Every time I am there and see people attending the magnificent new main synagogue, I can't help feeling complete glee and thinking "the bastards didn't win".  The fact that Jews feel safe and secure in bringing up their families in Germany, of all places, is down in no small part to government actions - the process of "Wiedergutmachung" (making good again).  About that I think Germans in 2012, members of the society that are creating this atmosphere today, can actually feel real pride and achievement.

What Bettina Göring's story just brings home to me how desperately hard we can make lives for ourselves if we choose to.  If we do not to "forgive" ourselves for an accident of birth, the sins of our fathers will continue to cause crushing pain.  They really do not deserve this.  Keep alive the memories and learn from them as societies: but do not make their legacy your personal present.



BBC Story: Nazi legacy: the troubled descendents

Color

If you've been following Iceland Eyes for a while, you'll know that seeing our island macro-style is one of my passions. Here's some wonderful color to help you start your new June week

Beauty often displays in hidden places...
 

It's amazing what the inside of a classic tulip has to offer ~.~

Friday, 1 June 2012

How to get rid of a bird- the costume

HAHAAHAHAHHAHAAAA

My sis, my mum and I came back home after a long day out and lol behold, a bird was in our laundry area. We dont know how it got in since all the windows were closed.

We took so long to brainstorm how to get rid of the bird. One idea was to just leave it till the next morning when it will (hopefully) fly out of the house. But A BIRD IN THE HOUSE!!! How to sleep peacefully!!! We then decided to cover part of the house with bedsheet so that it wouldnt fly to other parts of the house. But in the end we just found a better idea!

A basket on the head and we wrapped with blanket. Then i crawled in our 'costume' into the laundry area and woosh the bird flew out the front door instead zzzz

Mum was laughing crazily when she saw our costume... Lol

At least we now know what to wear when we wanna get rid of birds.

What an adventure!