Friday, April 2, 2010

Nailing Down Ideas

I am at a time in my life when a number of potentially useful thoughts occur when I can't easily write them down. Since I don't have a traveling (or any other) assistant to take dictation, the next best thing is my little Olympus digital recorder. (It's the WS-311M model - I'm sure the is a newer one on the market by now.) Great little work horse. I use one of those lanyards for backstage badges to carry it with me in case - you never know - a great idea hits me unexpectedly. Back home I just plug it in my computer, listen to it and put it in the waste basket or add it to my ideas file.


  1. Wonderful! And to my mind is coming a story about Umberto Eco. In Italy exist several different matches. The little "cerini" and the huge sulfur matches "fiammiferi da cucina", both inflamable on any rough surfice, and then the "svedish" matches which are those we usually use in Germany and last not least the thin booklets with two rows of matches which often are a gadget of hotels or restaurants with publicity written on. These last "booklets" (I don't know how you call them in english) in Italy are called "bustina di Minerva" = "Minerva's paper-bag", because on the paper seal of the state monopoly which closes the booklet one can see a portrait of the Goddess Minerva.

    Umberto Eco has always been a smoker, and he wrote his flying ideas always on a "bustina di Minerva" if he hadn't any paper with him in the 80-ties, when the little Olympus didn't exist and Athena provided help through matches.

    In 86 - if I remember well - Umberto Eco started to write every week an article on the last page of the weekly "Espresso", which was like a king size version of Notes & Quotes. And he called this weekly column "La bustina di Minerva". One of the roots of my sometimes thomistic seeming comments is certainly Umberto Eco's flame carrying series of articles.

  2. “I'm sure there is a newer one on the market by now.”

    Yes, there is one I recommend very much: Olympus DN-VR3D. Whereas Michael could surely replace his antiquated Olympus monster by his Iphone, my working horse is superior. DN stands for day and night use, and the N is in bold letters. The VR 3D refers to the brand new 3 dimension feature that is built in the camera. Yes, it is a voice and a video recorder. The latter requires the plug in of three added mics, looking like camera lenses, which are to be fixed around your head, one just between your eyes, the others slightly above your ears. I use this recorder only in the night mode for recording all the ideas I have during this time. For example my dreams. As a precaution Olympus provided a switch (Kindersicherung) to exclude night mares. Today I got a nasty surprise when I transmitted my dreams of the night before (april first) to the computer. The picture showed an unknown dream. It was my wife´s dream and I wasn´t the hero in this story.

  3. In other words, Michael is in the lucky dimension of adequateness I once have been searching for going by train, first in Germany and afterwards in Sicily. In Germany after the night in the wagon lit I was trying to shave my night beard, looking in the stainless steel equipped bathroom of the german train for a power outlet for my electric shaver. But there was no outlet. I asked the train conducter where I could find one, and he pointed on the side of my seat, because in that train every seat had not only a screen, where you could choose among Schrek, MTV, Falkenhof, Schwarzwaldklinik and a documentary on railroad managing, but also listen to Cecilia Bartoli, James Last or Deutschlandfunk, and obviously there was a power outlet on the side of every seat for your laptop. I found it absurd to shave myself publicly, but this was what I had been suggested to do, and after all noone would notice, because everyone was looking to the screen on the back of the seat before him or her. So I shaved myself and two children came close to me and without saying a word they stared to me the whole time. Obviously they felt, that something was wrong, which the conducter hadn't felt.

    A week later I went by train to Agrigento, and in the morning, after passing the Etna, I went to the bathroom. There was an outlet and I put the plug into the outlet. But it didn't work, so I had to go to the bathroom of the next rail car. But the outlet there was visibly broken. Anyway, in the forth bathroom I found a working outlet and could shave myself.

    When I got back to my seat and sat down to look a little bit out of the window, two children came near me and asked me my name and the name of my father and the name of my grandfather.