The video games they play me

Last year I made pretty rough contact with the road after crashing my bike on the way to work. In the beginning of June I finally decided to drop some money on a new bike (and a new helmet). I bought a shiny road bike (with a straight bar for the city) and it was such a good feeling to finally ride again.

brand new road bike before the crash...

Unfortunately it took me only five days and a couple of utterly, utterly nice rides to have another crash on the way to work. And to break my arm. What the actual fuck?  I underwent surgery and got some fancy titan upgrades to my arm only a few days later. Matti 2.0!

I had to stay home for a couple of weeks and used the time to catch up on a couple of TV series and to pick up XCOM 2 in the steam summer sale. Nonetheless I wouldn’t recommend the experience to anyone. Right now I am working to rebuild strenght in my arm as the fracture seems to be fully healed.

My first and biggest concern after learning that about the fracture was that the arm might not fit in the brand new suit that I bought for the wedding of Daniela and Andreas. Luckily no cast was needed because of the surgery and I was able to be an exceptionally good looking groomsman. 😉 Speaking of the wedding: It was just wonderful. I have to admit though that I was a sobbing mess when bride and groom read their marriage promises to each other. I am so damn happy for you guys.

Now it’s only a few more days until I go to the Wacken Open Air for the first time. I have never been to a festival that spanned over a couple of days and I have never slept in a tent before so this is a first too. I am going to see Iron Maiden, Steel Panther, Blue Oyster Cult and many more. But more importantly I am going to camp with Daniela, Andreas (2x), Georg and some more friends. I am so looking forward to this time.

Afterwards I will be at the baltic sea for a couple of days with Ronny to relax. We may even take out the bikes for an excursion if the doc gives her okay. Wish me luck.

26/56. Hurrah?

Farewell Old Friend

Today I got one of those calls that shake and sometimes break us. Leo, one of my oldest friends is no more. He passed away from sudden cardiac death.

René Leonhardt 1976-2016

René Leonhardt 1976-2016

I forgot so many things along my way to where I am now, but for some reason I still vividly remember the first time I talked to Leo. He came to our class as an addition and in physical education we were paired for the 100m sprint. We briefly spoke about Asthma, we ran and I beat him. Now I would love to be able to ask him if he was just polite being in a new environment or if he truly lost.

At times we (a communist and a left wing liberal) had a very different world view, we even yelled at each other and we felt desperate because of each others inability to see what we thought to be the simple and obvious truth. But through all those years and all those fights we were connected by a constant friendship. We shared school desks, attended football games and pulled all-nighters with Anstoss 3, World of Warcraft, pen and paper RPGs and World of Tanks. Together we defeated the Lich King, we went out to have drinks and we talked and talked and talked.

I feel not only empty and sad with Leo’s passing but I am also scared. Leo was gone in a moment without a chance to pursue all those things he most likely wanted to do but decided to do later. I feel blessed because I have wonderful friends, a job that I genuinely enjoy and the freedom to do at least some of the things I would like to do. But I have to make good use of this freedom each and every day instead of hoping that there will enough time to do it later.

Farewell old friend! Tonight I will open a bottle of red wine and down a glass of this awful swill that you always enjoyed to your honour. Du fehlst.

On Music – It’s Those Restless Hearts That Never Mend

The end of 2015 and the first weeks of 2016 did not treat music fans very well. In these few weeks the music world lost some real giants. Lemmy Kilmister, David Bowie and Glenn Frey. Now I love Motörhead and Bowie but it was Glenn Frey’s death that stinged the most.

Why is that? Today music takes a huge part in my life. I listen to music when I am at work, I spend way too much money on concert tickets and I am constantly air drumming, tapping, conducting, whistling, singing. There’s music in my head 24/7. But I wasn’t always like that. In fact when I was a young boy I wasn’t able to keep up with my friends taste in music. At home my mum played the same old tapes with Schlager music again and again. Her preferred radio station played the same shit and there was no way for me to listen to anything else. When my friends talked about Europe, Modern Talking and whatever they listened to in the 80s I didn’t really know anything about them. Being one of the cool kids I of course couldn’t just tell my friends. So I decided to come up with grumpy explanations why I wasn’t particularly excited about the latest craze. Much to my own surprise this worked.

When I later got my first stereo set for Christmas this was some sort of deliverance from the evil that is Schlager music. I was finally able to discover music on my own. I heard Bohemian Raphsody, Brothers in Arms and Losing My Religion on the radio bought blank cassettes and did what today could get me into a lot of trouble but at the time seemed to be a reasonable choice: I copied everything I could get my hands on. From the public library I lent R.E.M., Queen, Dire Straits and was simply blown away.

A little bit later I started to build my own CD collection. One of the albums I bought in these days was „Hotel California“. Mind you this was way before the internet and I didn’t know much about the Eagles. I didn’t know anything about „Hotel California“ being a huge stylistic leap from a country sound into mainstream rock and the overwhelming success of this particular piece of music. I knew the title track from the radio, the album was on the bargain table. So why not give it a try?

Back then I didn’t understand the meaning behind the lyrics and didn’t notice the deeply rooted pessimism that borders nihilism. But I instantly fell in love with the timeless beauty of the music. Over the years I probably listened to the album hundreds of times. I discovered more and more music, I admired the one of a kind artist David Bowie and the seemingly indestructible Lemmy. But the Eagles and „Hotel California“ were there at the very beginning. Rest in peace Lemmy, rest in peace David and rest in peace Glenn! Your music will continue to live with us!

Will she still love you?
When you’re not around?

There’s so many things you should have told her
But night after night
You’re willing to hold her just hold her
Tears on your shoulder

On a completely unrelated note I did the first photo shooting of the new year and was able to pick up some followers on Facebook after posting the pics. Feels good.

Dungeons & Dragons Via Web – This Is How We Roll

Yesterday evening I played Dungeons & Dragons 3.5. Now for those who know me that might not come as a surprise or even be mildly unusual. I DO role playing games since I am 13 years old, I DO consider Dungeons & Dragons a very enjoyable rule system and I DO like 3.5 over 4th and 5th edition so no big thing, right? But it was. For the first time I didn’t play in with everybody being in a cozy room with lots of coffee, chocolate and some booze. We played on the internet.

The group consists of friends from Jena, Gera, Nordhausen, Würzburg, Stuttgart and myself in Berlin. Most of the guys know each other since they were kids with me being the occasional intruder that is only knowing them for a decade. 😉 We decided to play Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 and to give a try as a platform.

Why Dungeons & Dragons

Everyone in the group played The Dark Eye earlier. I switched to Dungeons & Dragons later and suggested to use this. I did this because I feel D&D 3.5 is everything that (at least former editions of) The Dark Eye is not. D&D is painless to pick up, the fights play very smooth and it’s easily adjustable to the needs of your group. Also there are campaign settings available if you like to play in a pre-defined world but you can choose to create you own campaign. Which we did. The one thing that is a problem about this choice is that most of the wonderful rule books (basically everything that is not the three core rule books) are out of print and it can be a bit pricey to pick them up used. We may later have to venture into D&D 5th or Pathfinder for that reason alone.

The Platform

Registration at is free and so are all the basic features and some space to save your own graphics and stuff. Subscribing to one of the packages that support the site is not necessary to get your group playing as even with the basic feature set seems to support a plethora of different systems. So you are perfectly fine to start out without having to pay anything.
It’s easy to draw maps of your surroundings on the screen and visualize the story. The players also join in to a video conference on the main screen. The video conference feature uses Google Hangout and the site supports putting the players in different „rooms“ if the party decides to split up or somebody wants to talk in private. On the main screen All skill checks, attack rolls, etc. can be rolled with a single click after filling out your character sheet and the all-mighty Dungeon Master can even do so for every player without them noticing what skill he rolled on or what the result is. As a DM this is a very comfy setting as you can concentrate on the story and don’t has to think about technicalities too much.

Roll20.Net Interface playing Dungeons & Dragons

The Experience

First of all for most of the group playing the game was a blast from the past. The guys played in the same RPG group long ago then scattered all over the country and stopped playing altogether. Bringing back the fun that is role playing with your friends was a beautiful experience in itself. From the technical side it wasn’t too much of a hassle too. Of course Germany can feel like a third world country when it comes to internet connections and one of the players suffers from such terrible internet connection. He faced some problems with the video getting stuck and his voice not getting transmitted but there is no one to blame but his awful 2 Mbit connection.
Over the course of the evening the play screen stopped syncing for two or three times but was always back in sync after something like a minute. What I would love would be to put the video conference on one screen and the maps on one of the other screens. All told the experience was very enjoyable and we will for sure continue to use Roll20.

Vin Diesel – Because Reasons

Last and certainly not least for all those of you who think Dungeons & Dragons is not a cool thing to do for a bunch of grown up men: Well this charming chap begs to differ.

Leben ist Brücken schlagen über Ströme, die vergehn

As the year is coming to an end I have been working on the fifth edition of a photography calendar for the last few weeks. This time I will add some information on where the images have been taken and a few words to share. While taking notes for the appendix I quickly realized that some of the stuff I wrote did not fit in. Even though I felt the need to address these points they would have set the wrong mood. Why not putting my thoughts on the blog? Well, here we go with my little introspective and retrospective.

Five years ago my life was a different one. And life was about to change in nearly every way. Christmas was a very troubling time for health-related reasons within the family. I am happy to say that things changed for the better but back then I was scared to the bone. At the same time I also started a new job and had to manage a move. I returned to Leipzig which was exciting in itself and the job proved to be a very important step for the professional as well as the personal me. One more change was about photography though and it was a good change indeed. I was able to invest more time into getting a better photographer (and more money into gear). My photography changed. A lot. 10 months later I sat down to compile some of the images that were the result of said change. The calendar was only so much about the images but also about bringing a glimpse of attendance to family and friends even when I couldn’t manage to see them very often. Soon it went into print people seemed to enjoy it. Now four years and four more calendars later I look back and see that my photography has again changed as much as I did but the calendar is still about presence.

2015 has been a strange and sometimes hard year for me but also a year full of good memories. One of my oldest friends married, I was allowed to the photo pit for the first time. And boy did I feel the pressure. I went on a trip to Finland with my dad who turned 70 to see Velse and Matti. Even though the time was limited there are wonderful memories. Later I went on an impromptu trip to Lithuania that made me as much happy and gave me as many wonderful memories. I went to more concerts than ever before, made a bucket list, crossed some thing from the list and added more. Luckily I was able to walk away from a pretty hard crash with my bike and at work I took over responsibility for a team.

Time flies by and I felt the need to catch breath and look back for a moment. Thank you for sharing this very moment and thank you for all the good times we were allowed to share in the past. Have a wonderful Christmas time and „May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness. I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you’re wonderful, and don’t forget to make some art – write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can. And I hope, somewhere in the next year, you surprise yourself.“

Also: 20/56. Yes.

This woman is my destiny – She said, „Ooh-ooh-hoo, Shut up and dance with me.“

1. The photo gallery

Some shots from my recent trip to the beautiful country of Lithuania. There are shots from Klaipeda, Nida and Vilnius.

The important part

Thank you Elina, thank you!

Reboot worked. 9/56.

I’ve become so numb, Can I get an encore

Der letzte Tag, wieder einmal. Vier wundervolle Tage in Litauen und nun einfach wieder nach Hause und auf Arbeit? Wirklich? 🙁 Gut, den Opel Astra werde ich als Einziges nicht vermissen. Ein 1.4er Turbo mit ausgeprägter Durchzugsschwäche und einem nicht funktionierendem Tempomat, der einfach keine Musik von meinem Telefon abspielen wollte. Jeder Tritt auf die Bremse fühlte sich breiig an und geklappert hat der Haufen auch noch. Kurz: Brrr!


Zum Flughafen Palanga ging es vom Hotel mit dem Taxi, einem W124 mit viel… Charakter. Fast 450.000 km auf der Uhr, aber der alte Benz verrichtet immer noch klaglos seinen Dienst. Auf dem Rollfeld wartete dann eine unangenehme Überraschung in Form einer durch Air Baltic von irgendwelchen Dänen geleasten ATR-72 (OY-RUB). Wenn Bombardier die bestellten CS300 liefern könnte, würden sicher ein paar Dash 8 frei bei Air Baltic…
Der alte Seelenverkäufer erhob sich mit einigem Ächzen in die Luft und schaukelte mit uns gen Riga. Auf dem Weg trafen wir auf so richtig, richtig mieses Wetter und mehr als einmal fiel die Maschine in Turbulenzen, die ohne Gurt mit dem Kopf an der Decke geendet hätten. Schließlich schlug die Maschine in Riga ein landete ich jedoch sicher in Riga. Ich war noch nie so kurz davor, nach einer Landung zu klatschen.


Während ich auf meinen Flug nach Berlin wartete, entdeckte ich dann auf dem Vorfeld einen Airbus von Aeroflot, den man auf den schönen Namen Yu. Gagarin getauft hatte. Sicher, der Mann verdient, dass man sich an ihn erinnert. Aber muss man ein FLUGZEUG nach ihm benennen? Wobei ist er noch mal gestorben?! Na egal, nach Berlin flog Air Baltic zum Glück wieder mit einer Dash 8 Q400 NextGen. Das Ding mag ja seine Fehler haben, aber nach der ATR-72 fühlte sich dieser Flug wesentlich angenehmer an.


Nach der Landung bestanden schnell keinerlei Zweifel mehr, dass ich offenbar wieder in Berlin war. Der aggressive Taxifahrer beschimpfte alles und jeden, hupte und kannte Worte, die nicht einmal ich oft benutze. *seufz* Vielleicht war es keine kluge Entscheidung zurück zu kommen. Aber immerhin höre ich jetzt auf der Straße wieder das vertraute Englisch, in Klaipeda fühlte ich mich ein wenig gestresst, weil scheinbar _jeder_ deutsch sprach. Verdammte Touristen! 😉

Guess I won’t be coming to church on Sunday, I’ll be waiting for love

Sonntag, wieder so ein Tag, an dem wir es eigentlich etwas ruhig angehen lassen wollten. Irgendwann erwähnte Elina dann Vilnius. „Hmm, kann man machen“ dachte ich mir prompt. Diesmal stoppte uns kein Polizist und sogar das Parken war sonntags kostenlos. Geht doch!


Allerdings erwischte uns nun doch der schon seit Tagen angekündigte Regen. Den ersten Guss konnten wir noch in einem Kaffee aussitzen, auf dem Weg zur Altstadt wurden wir so richtig nass. Also flüchteten wir uns in ein Restaurant und warteten bei Lachs auf besseres Wetter.


Der Stadtkern von Vilnius ist wirklich wunderschön, viele Bürgerhäuser mit prächtigen Verzierungen schmücken die Straßen und die Altstadt ist buchstäblich vollgestopft mit Kirchen. Man geht durch eine kleine Gasse und plötzlich ist da eine Kirche. Die nächste Gasse, ein paar Schritte, eine Kirche. O_o 535.000 Einwohner und gefühlt 536.000 Kirchen? Wie ist das möglich?

Unser Spaziergang durch die Stadt fand seinen Abschluss auf der oberen Burg von Vilnius. Wir waren uns sofort einig, dass wir definitiv den Aufzug zur Burg nehmen wollten und laufen auf keinen Fall in Frage kam. Mein blöder Scherz, dass der Aufzug bestimmt um 19 Uhr schließen würde, erwies sich schnell als bittere Realität und so machten wir uns per pedes auf den Weg. Macht einen sexy Hintern hab ich mir sagen lassen, also was solls.


Der Sonnenuntergang über der Stadt entschädigte uns dann für den Anstieg. Ein echter Wow-Moment und ein toller Abschluss, bevor wir uns wieder auf den Weg nach Klaipeda machten.

Yeah, we’ll be counting stars

Die Planung für den heutigen Tag war gestern noch recht übersichtlich. Erst einmal ausschlafen nach einem schönen Abend in der Skybar, wo wir uns mit Elinas Cousine Dasha und ihrem Freund Sergey getroffen hatten.

Danch wollten wir zum Hügel der Kreuze fahren. Eventuell würde das Wetter mitspielen, eventuell nicht.
Am Morgen lachte mir die liebe Sonne durch das Fenster entgegen und dem Ausflug stand nichts im Weg. Allerdings hatte Elina die Idee, den Ausflug auszudehnen und noch Riga zu besuchen. Klasse Idee, gesagt, getan.

Die Kilometer bis zum Hügel der Kreuze schmolzen zügig zusammen und als es nur noch 5.3 km waren, winkte mich ein freundliches, litauisches Polizistenteam an den Fahrbahnrand. Die Laserpistole in der Hand machte schnell klar, worum es ging. Doh! Irgendwo muss ich ein 70-Schild übersehen haben. Vorbildliche 101 km/h waren auf einmal weniger vorbildlich. Gnaaaah.
Die Polizisten sprachen kaum englisch und wir harmlosen Touristen selbstverständlich kein Wort litauisch. Man muss es der Ordnungsmacht ja auch nicht leichter machen, als unbedingt nötig. 😉
Die Polizei zog sich dann mit den Papieren in ihr Auto zurück und wir begannen hektisch zu googlen und zu telefonieren. 31 km/h zu viel, das würde unangenehm teuer, so viel war schnell klar. 100 Euro? 150? 200? So ganz sicher waren wir uns nicht.
Nach endlosen 25 Minuten kamen die Papiere und ein Strafzettel zurück. 14 Euro werden fällig. Okay, Gesicht möglichst schuldbewusst verziehen, einen schönen Tag wünschen und erst dann brüllend lachen, als wir wieder unterwegs waren. Vielleicht zählte der Ausflug zum Hügel der Kreuze bei der allerobersten Instanz als Pilgerreise,vielleicht war es gutes Karma oder wir hatten einfach unverschämtes Glück, die Erleichterung war jedenfalls absolut greifbar.


Der Hügel der Kreuze war durchaus beeindruckend, aber schon bald waren wir auf dem Weg nach Riga. Dort angekommen suchten wir zunächst nach etwas zu essen und landeten schließlich in einem wunderschönen, kleinen Keller-Restaurant gegenüber der alten Stadtmauer.


Gut gestärkt erkundeten wir die Altstadt , fotografierten, saßen am Wasser, tranken Kaffee und machten uns nach 4 Stunden schließlich auf den Rückweg. Außer einem kurzen Regenschauer blieben wir die gesamte Zeit trocken. In your face weather forecast!


Ein glimpflich ausgegangener Schreckmoment, der Hügel der Kreuze und das wunderschöne Riga. Was für ein toller Tag! Wie kann man das noch steigern? Na klar, man hält auf dem Rückweg mitten im dunklen, dunklen litauischen Niemandsland an und schaut in die Sterne. Ja, genau, die Dinger, die man in Berlin „dank“ der Lichtverschmutzung niemals sieht. Yeah! Jetzt bin ich einfach mal todmüde und sage daher: Gute Nacht Welt!

Back in the USSR

Den heutigen Tagesrückblick gibt es schon recht zeitig. Ich habe mich zur Abwechslung einmal ausgeschlafen, bin durch die Altstadt gebummelt


und um 12 sind wir dann nach Palanga aufgebrochen. Wir haben an Schweineohren geknabbert (nicht vom Bäcker, vom Schwein) und uns wieder mit frittiertem Brot gestärkt.


Danach sind wir durch den Wald gebummelt, haben die Rechte-Hand-Regel an einem Labyrinth ausprobiert und alte Ostblockfahrzeuge angesehen.

In Palanga selbst haben wir uns mit einem Kaffee gestärkt und einen laaaaaangen Spaziergang am Strand und durch den Park der Residenz gemacht. Ouch, meine Beine!


Nach einer kurzen Erholungsphase geht es jetzt gleich weiter in die höchste Bar von Klaipeda. Einen schönen Abend Welt!