wood artist

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About wood artist

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  1. wood artist added a post in a topic: Google Street View   

    Topics merged by admin

    We probably all remember the great outcry in Germany when Google StreetView was preparing to include Germany in their data. As I recall, most of the outrage dealt with the idea that Google would take pictures of buildings...pictures no different than could be taken by anyone walking by on a public right-of-way. The end result was that Google agreed to "blur" the pictures if someone opted out. Of course, the whole thing was a tempest in a teacup...or beer stein, but nonetheless Google agreed.

    Along the way, Google pointed out that they have always blurred faces and license plates that were captured, and there didn't seem to be too much noise about being photographed walking along a street. Personally, I know I'm in a couple of frames taken in downtown Berlin, but I don't much care. Even I have trouble finding "me" and I know where I was (or "am") in the pictures.

    Now, however, a Frenchman has proven that Google is indeed as evil as some believe. He decided to relieve himself in his yard, in plain view of the street, but assumed that no one would see him. Whoops! Along came the Google car and...yup, you guessed it. So, they did blur his face (I guess) but he claims that everyone in the neighborhood knows which house it is and who it is. Damn, a guy can even go outside to relieve himself, in clear view of the public, without...privacy. I'm really wondering what the French court is going to make of this. After all, given the photograph, taken from a car driving down the street, he can hardly claim he had a reasonable expectation of privacy.

    Here's the whole story: http://www.latimes.com/business/technology/la-fi-tn-frenchman-sues-google-street-view-urinate-20120302,0,5413568.story?track=rss&utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter&dlvrit=104530

    Sometimes you just can't make this stuff up. I write fiction, but I would never think to include something this bizarre.

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  2. wood artist added a post in a topic: Maximum money allowed at airport   


    I was stopped at Frankfurt for the first time last year. I normally visit every year, in the spring time. I was dressed "casually" in jeans and a collared shirt...completely clean.

    I was a little surprised initially, but then things got interesting. The man went through my checked bag...and got very interested in my voltage converter. He acted like he'd never seen such a thing, and seemed to have no idea what it was or what it did. I tried hard to remain calm and simply explain the function and why I had it, but he didn't seem to be understanding. Then...he found the batteries.

    My camera goes through AA batteries real fast, especially when it's using the flash. Since I need to take a lot of pictures as documentation for the books I'm writing, I usually carry a couple of 48-packs that I get here in the US. He found those, and became a bit upset. I asked...politely...if there was a problem bringing in batteries...since I've never seen anything about that. His response was "We sell batteries here in Germany." I smiled and agreed. Then I pointed out that I could purchase the packages I had for about 8 or 9 Euros each in the US, while buying them in 4 packs, or maybe 8 packs in Germany would total more than 100 Euros. He wasn't impressed, so I just said..."well, I can't see spending all that money for no purpose."

    Finally he let me go, but it was clear he wasn't happy. No, I have no idea why I was selected...but such is life. He never asked about my computer (carry on) or some of the other stuff in my bag.

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  3. wood artist added a post in a topic: Woman kicked off bus because of crying baby   

    Sorry, but I failed to mention that the driver is a woman. I'm not sure that changes anything, but there's at least a chance that she's had to deal with fussy children as a mother...and might have a bit more sympathy for the situation.
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  4. wood artist added a post in a topic: Woman kicked off bus because of crying baby   

    I can't locate the original thread for this, but I thought people might be interested in the follow up.

    Back about a month ago a bus driver in Portland, Oregon (USA) kicked a woman and her child off the bus because the child was fussy and wouldn't stop crying. In protect, every other passenger got off the bus too, and ultimately a formal complaint was filed with Tri-Met, the agency that runs the bus service.

    Along the way, video from the bus was released that largely substantiated the claims of the passengers, although it does not include any audio.

    Now the agency has announced that the driver has been "disciplined" although the detail haven't been released. They also provided additional information...the driver has had many complaints filed for Customer Service issues, more than 20 in the past year.

    Of course, there is the usual noise wondering exactly what the driver must do to be fired. It will likely die down again soon, but it's pretty sad, and the video shows that the mother was doing everything possible to calm the child.

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  5. wood artist added a post in a topic: Microsoft's Streetside better accepted than Google Street View   

    It seems like the article ignores the most likely reason the Microsoft idea isn't creating any "news." People got all excited about StreetView, but since its introduction, they've discovered it was Much Ado About Nothing. They've figured out that Google doesn't show anything that someone walking by or driving by couldn't see, and most of the blurred buildings just look stupid.
    In short, the tempest in the teacup is all over and nobody cares if somebody else is doing the same thing. I'd bet if we compare the views, a lot of buildings blurred in Google will be visible in Microsoft, simply because those who yelled the loudest found out they had nothing to yell about.
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  6. wood artist added a post in a topic: Voltage Converter USA to Germany   


    I have one I purchased from Brookstone that works well. Not the cheapest, but it has worked for a long time.

    Be forewarned. Every one you'll find will say "don't use for computers or electronics."

    Two reasons. First, unless you spend a bunch, the voltage isn't that well regulated, so some spiking can occur. My Brookstone unit works well, but even it includes that notice. I've powered my laptop with it for 4 years, no problems. For some reason HP can't supply me with the appropriate European wall converter to power it directly.

    The second reason is a lot of them don't change to 60 cycles, and that means motors don't run at the right speed. That can really mess up players and things that require it. The usual sales literature says they work fine for hairdryers and such, which is true since you won't notice the differences there.

    I'm sure there are good ones out there that work for electronics, but I've not checked them. The computer doesn't care since it runs on DC anyway.

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  7. wood artist added a post in a topic: What is the researcher's motivation   

    Hmmm. Interesting question, at least as something to ponder. Otherwise, not so much.

    It is true that if, and that's a really big IF, we did find a cure for cancer, and if we assume it was somehow something global enough to resolve "all cancers" then yup, a bunch of people would have to move on to something else, to some new line of work. However, I don't think that means their current work is unimportant. As a two-time cancer survivor, I think I like what they've done so far. In fact, I like it a lot!

    But, getting back to your question. There are always new places to go, and new things to learn. If we cure one disease, there are many more that need attention. Back in the day, Jonas Salk got credit for "curing" polio. His work, however, was built upon the foundations laid by many others, and he openly admitted that. However, even today, polio isn't eradicated. Try as we might, it's still around, even though good preventive programs could stop people from getting sick. Not every country has good public health programs, so that might still be a place for some of those "out of work" researchers.

    I think we've declared smallpox as "gone." However, that also means new generations are being allowed to skip vaccinations, because...there's no threat. Whoops. The bug is still stored for study, and I'll bet some terrorist has given thought to that.

    In any case, with few exceptions, skilled tradesmen, be they construction workers or lab researchers, have always found new trades, and I suspect they would under your scenario too. I don't know what happened to them, but I don't see a lot of unemployed typewriter repairmen out begging, and the people who made their living making slide-rules somehow found new things to do. Society marches on, and people adapt.

    Thank God we have people willing to continue such research, regardless of whether they're working themselves out of a job.

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  8. wood artist added a post in a topic: How long from engagement to wedding in 1590s?   


    I would have thought the same thing, and have tried more than a couple. Oddly, and I am making no judgments here, I didn't receive much help. Most of the time there were (literally) no responses at all, and in a couple cases, rather pointed remarks that "this is a forum for Germans!"

    In any case, TT was recommended by someone, and I decided to give it a try. Despite the responses to my two most recent queries, most everyone has been very helpful, and, with a few exceptions, at least neutral. Sadly, that seems to have changed, and I am actively re-thinking asking for any additional assistance from this community, assuming something comes up that might generate the need in the future.

    I have bookmarked many fine "German" websites, but as I work through different time periods my needs change. As I have explained before, searching, regardless of base language or "advanced search options" will not return some things. After talking with some people in University libraries and such, and a couple from Google itself, I have pretty much confirmed that all search engines do a certain amount of filtering based upon where you are, and provide limited responses based upon that.

    As an experiment, during my last trip to Germany I duplicated 10 searches I did in the days just before I traveled. I was still logged in as "me" and entered exactly the same text strings. In no case was the response identical, and in two cases, I went down several pages to find anything that had appeared in the original search. Therefore, I am left to conclude that certain things remain invisible, regardless of the effort taken. I recently looked into being able to view the on-line copies of University Thesis writing, and, in one case, was told it was impossible for someone outside of Germany to see them, unrelated to the price they wanted to charge in the first place. Actually, in the exchange of emails, once I was told it was "illegal." Considering they are published works, supposedly in the public domain, I found that...well, interesting.

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  9. wood artist added a post in a topic: How long from engagement to wedding in 1590s?   


    Wow! I am impressed. With that breadth of experience, certainly I respect any advice or observations that you might make. With that publishing history, I'm certain you have a wealth of experience in searching for sometimes-obscure German history through ISP's located in the United States that, regardless of browser or search-engine settings, still return filtered results. I'm also certain that your skills in English exceed my skills in German.

    Perhaps you could provide me with a list of those books, and I'll be very interested in adding them to my collection regarding German history. I'm looking forward to reading more of your writing, and maybe I can learn something more. Your information may well prove to be the most valuable references I've received here.

    I look forward to receiving more information.

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  10. wood artist added a post in a topic: How long from engagement to wedding in 1590s?   


    I agree. It is often difficult to separate research and the desire to include bunches of stuff from the storyline. One of the first elements of my editing is to look hard at whether something moves the plot forward or not. Sadly, much like a movie situation, there are pages and pages on the "cutting room floor." They were things I liked, or even loved, but they didn't work.

    On the other hand, if I were to say that Ernst and Cristelle stood at the front of the church, each with a flock of attendants, and stepped through their wedding vows, including an exchange of rings and all that, in 1594, a lot of people, especially those who listened in history class, would probably close the book at that point and yell Crap! As well they should.

    I strive to strike a balance, and leave it to readers to determine if I've succeeded. In the case of The Molecatcher, a thriller that includes a chase through Köln, at least three residents of that city notified me that they didn't know about the things I'd included, and one specifically said he followed the chase in the book literally, finding each place in turn. He also said he'd lived and around the city for nearly 40 years and didn't know about them. So...balance? Dunno. I'm the worst possible person to objectively evaluate it.

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  11. wood artist added a post in a topic: How long from engagement to wedding in 1590s?   


    I read through that entire site you referenced, and it was great information. Although I won't use too much of it, it provided some great general background about how marriage and weddings came to be what we think of today.

    Thanks again for the great help

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  12. wood artist added a post in a topic: How long from engagement to wedding in 1590s?   


    Although this subject has been discussed before, let me provide a quick summary.

    I've been on this forum for four years. In that time I've created 16 topics, so about four per year. Excluding a couple that have to do with unrelated things, there are 13 dealing with my books. Three are specific to a novel entitled "The Molecatcher." That leaves 10 dealing with the Berlin trilogy, or about 2.5 per year. That means in four years of research for this book, or at least four years when I have been a member here, I've asked 10 questions. Those have come about because I've found, amongst more than 7000 internet bookmarks, and nearly 500 lineal feet of bookshelf crammed with books, DVD's and other pamphlets I've purchased for this project, I've found conflicting, confusing, or otherwise incomplete information 10 times and decided, in desperation, to ask others if they can make suggestions.

    While I may be wrong, that doesn't really strike me as excessive. Of course, you may believe otherwise. Let me know when you start to write a trilogy, or even a single book that attempts to be 100% historically accurate and deals with more than 2000 years of history in a land where you don't currently reside, that speaks a different language that you have to learn, and which, because of some limitations on browsers and search engines, isn't always the easiest thing to locate on line, and I'll...be happy to help you. I'll even try to do so without making sarcastic remarks.

    Beyond that, you can read the comments above, as someone else suggested.

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  13. wood artist added a post in a topic: The tradition of Polterabend   

    Thanks, Chris.

    I've heard stories that range from a single broken teacup to whole truckloads of stuff. I suspect, like most things, there is a wide range, depending upon the time, the nature of your friends, etc.

    Thanks again.

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  14. wood artist added a post in a topic: The tradition of Polterabend   

    Thank you, auniquecorn.
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  15. wood artist added a post in a topic: How long from engagement to wedding in 1590s?   


    Thank you for another great link. As is usually the case, the more I find, the more varied the truth becomes. My aim is not to be "absolutely accurate" but to insure that what I write is plausible. Obviously the experiences of any one person can be different from others, that's especially true in pre-modern times. When I write about the building of the wall, obviously I need to be absolutely accurate, since many potential readers will have first-hand knowledge of those events, and since I am working with a specific location, I strive to be utterly accurate, even to the point of being able to see pictures showing the actions.

    In earlier times, I want to be close enough that a native with a good grasp of history won't suddenly be pulled off by something that clearly is neither true nor possible. I don't want a character to witness "the Kaiser" pass by when he had been dead for 40 years before that time. This whole marriage storyline has been difficult for those reasons...there aren't "absolutes."

    In any case, thank you for yet another source that provides more ideas and more concrete information.


    I use Firefox as my browser, and it also has some similar capabilities. Thus far, however, I've discovered there are still problems. A good example might be this: I can search for "Hermann Göring" and get one set of results, while searching for "Hermann Goering" provides a completely different set of responses. While we might "know" that they are the same, the search engines frequently don't, and unless I hit just the right spelling or word order in German, often times I get nothing, or just garbage. I'm not sure why that happens, but when searching in German it seems word order really does matter, while in English if I search for "Winston Churchill" I'll get the same results as if I searched for "Churchill Winston." Supposedly it doesn't change anything, but...it does.

    In any case, thanks for the suggestion.

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