Path: Welcome > FAQs


Who is Hu?

Never mind. Hu Jintao is someone very high in the Chinese government. I once read a nice send-up of George W. Bush (someone who was implausibly high in the American government) in which 'Condi' (ie the then security advisor Ms Rice) tries to explain to Mr Bush that the name of the new Chinese leader is Mr Hu. He doesn't get it, but then Hu is of course an impossibly complicated name. (The Chinese and Indians and Arabs could do a lot for world peace if they would adopt nice simple names, very much as we have them: like Gordon Brown or Helmut Kohl or, indeed, George Bush.)

That piece was written by James Sherman, a playwright, for the Washington Times and is, even years later, a good read. It is based on an old baseball sketch by Abbot and Costello.

If you like this sort of thing, there's more in the Misc section

Why are there so few graphics on your site?

Hmm… perhaps because I am writer and not a painter? Seriously: this site is produced with a piece of software that's similar to a Wiki. This means, among other things, that I can edit existing and create new pages from literally everywhere in the world (well, as long as there's an internet café around).

The downside is that this sort of tool tends to create relatively simple text-based sites without many bells and whistles because most editing has to be done via primitive web forms.

I also happen to think that less is more. Well, sometimes.

However, there are pictures to be found if you know where to look: the travel section has quite a few and there are also some in the Misc section (including one showing me as a baby, if you can believe that).

What are those funny boxes around some of the words?

Move the mouse pointer over such a box and let it rest for a short while: a small pop-up window will come up.

What about external links? How can I get them to open in a new window (or tab) so that I keep the page I am currently viewing?

Yes, the dreaded question of external links. There's a holy row going on in the world of web designers on whether to open external links in the same or a fresh window. I have for the time being decided to re-use windows and not to open new ones. After all, if you want an external link to create another window you can just right-click on the link and then choose the option “Open Link in New Window” or something similar, depending on the browser you use.

Why is everything in English? There's not a single word of German in sight!

Okay, so here is one (but don't complain): Lindenblütenteebeutelverpackungsmaschinenherstellerverbandspräsidentenwitwenkuchenkränzchen.

I have thought long and hard about whether to have a multi-lingual site and finally decided that it's not a brilliant idea. Here are some of the reasons:

And if the worst really comes to the worst, perhaps one of these online dictionaries can help.

What is a Lindenblütenteebeutelverpackungsmaschinenherstellerverbandspräsidentenwitwenkaffeekränzchen?

Gosh, I somehow knew you would ask. But we can get to the bottom of it, no problem. It'll take a while, but Germans do it all the time. Main rule of survival is to start at the end (as the most important bit is normally the last word) and from there to break the big monster into more easily handled miniature monsters.

A “Kaffeekränzchen” is an informal meeting where (mostly) ladies eat cakes and drink coffee or tea. A “Verbandspräsidentenwitwe” is the widow of the president of some association or union. A “Verpackungsmaschinenhersteller” is a company which produces machines that in turn pack things. A “Teebeutel” is a teabag (that was the easy bit). And “Lindenblütentee” is tea made of the blooms of a lime tree.

So we have a meeting of (presumably elderly) widows, whose late husbands were all presidents of associations of companies which produced machines to pack teabags of lime bloom. All that in a single German word: PHEW.

(In case you now believe this to be a German word in actual use: no, it's not. It's just an extreme example of what a determined German can do to his mother tongue while not violating any grammatical rules. But here is an example for a word that's indeed in use: Rindfleischetikettierungsüberwachungsaufgabenübertragungsgesetz.

I leave the deconstruction to the interested reader.)

What can I do if I find an error? Or a typo? A dead link?

Please tell me, by all means. I am an INTJ and INTJs tend to be perfectionists. As such I abhor erors.

As to dead links, I will replace or kill them (hm, let's see… how does one kill a dead link?). If you can send in a nice replacement link, I will be eternally grateful.

What is an INTJ?

Some would say that's a synonym for “poor Vero” as my wife has a long-standing history of dealing with me and my idiosyncracies. (Then again, I have a long-standing history of dealing with her and hers.)

Anyway, ever heard of C G Jung? Or Isabel Myers-Briggs? They have between them built a not overly complicated system (called MBTI) to classify people into one of 16 different types. I happen to be an INTJ type, though on one or two tests I came up as ISTJ. I don't want to go into the details of all these different types, or the question whether this is just an advanced form of zodiacry: is one of many, many sources on the web.

Let's just say that some of the observations about INTJs struck me as hitting the nail right on the head when I think about me and my reactions to people and things. Or vice versa. (Though one stops and pauses after learning that one of the more (in)famous fictitious INTJs is Hannibal Lecter. Strange coincidence then that the real Hannibal, the smart guy with the elephants, seems to have been an INTJ as well. Funny how they can find out this, after all these years.)

See also my take on how to handle an INTJ.

$updated from: FAQs.htxt Sat 18 Jan 2014 13:12:47 thomasl (By Thomas Lauer)$