Stuff nobody reads
Who am I?
Bernd Hartwig Felsche - hence the nickname. Eh what?
Pretty clever? Shame I couldn't think of it without help.
There you go; you can find out lots of things about me now. Well; until you're bored in a couple of minutes.
Nevertheless; I'll persist to amuse by revealing that I hail from a city called Detmold in a country called Germany; on a land-mass of the planet Earth called Europe. This may come as a surprise to some. That I'm an Earthling, I mean.
I've been assured that I'm not an alien conception; my father is chiefly responsible for my wit (Yeah; sure. Go blame the old man.) and my penny-pinching I owe to my mum. Those of you familiar with Germany may recognize that Detmold is located in the County of Lippe; reputed for its natives making a Scotsman look generous. Fortunately, extreme parental influences cancel each other out and I'm an extremely-well balanced, reasonable person. Sometimes.
Where am I and where have I been?
- Continents: 4
- Countries: 14 (now 13)
I now live in antipodean regions; where I've spent most of the past 35 years near the most-isolated city on the face of the planet. (I don't know; are the cities below the face?)
I've travelled to many parts of the world and I can safely say that everywhere I've visited has its own charm. I may not have appreciated it at the time. Without my extensive wit, I would have been at its end very rapidly in some places. I won't mention Heathrow arrivals.
When I were a young lad; my parents took me over to the other side of the Iron Curtain, to visit relatives. I remember one of my grand-uncles, sitting on the hot-seat; the bench formed around the tiled oven, typical of that region (though no longer fashionable), offering me a shot of Schnaps. It was good
I remember walking around the city of Halberstadt with its half-timbered houses and their own "Roland". Parts of the city had an air of being freshly-built - well, my (paternal) aunt's apartment was fairly new. Other parts didn't look nice; not realizing at the time that they'd only been patched, if that, after WWII. Other than that, I don't remember much... and I didn't drink much more Schnaps.
In 1967, the last summer before emigrating to Australia (the place with kangaroos), I went on holiday in the Vorarlberg region of Austria (that's the place with mountains) with another aunt and uncle. It took a whole day, plus some, to get there. The Beetle was packed the day before and we were up before the crack of dawn, clattering down the Autobahn with 120 Sachen. I was on the back seat, wedged between the luggage and fiddling with the Kofferradio with little idea of where we were going and why. But I was excited!
Our journey took us past some of the baroque palaces in the South of Germany - I found the lakes more interesting. We had to look at some of the palaces in detail at my aunt's insistence. Eventually, as dusk approached, we found a place to stay with some people on the outskirts of a village called Au.
Somebody suggested I keep a diary... it's still somewhere. I'm not good at writing things down.
There were mountains and streams. We wandered up some mountains and along streams. We got stuck on some bogs. I collected some rocks. Sometimes we visited villages and kicked the cobbles. A certain member of the party was unusually interested in having a peek inside almost every church. In the evenings, we clattered around the surrounding countryside to find a place where we could eat. The roast chicken looked more like sparrows; I think we almost always had some sort of Schnitzel.
I was frightened by the size of the St Bernhards could not quite cope with a dog being that large.
After a week or so, you know; just when you start to get used to the local dialect, we packed our belongings into the Beetle and rattled off back home...
I don't remember exactly how I got back to the family home in Schwalenberg in February 1968. Kids don't take notes, even if they have a diary. I'd spent some time with my aunt, attending school in their village. While there, I made some really good school-friends. I can't for the life of me remember any names or faces. Maybe I was hallucinating...
Nevertheless, after well over a year of preparation including language lessons, medicals, and immunisation, our travel clothes were piled into the taxi for our long journey to Bremerhaven where the Angelina Lauro was tugging at the quay. Our cabin was on C deck. A family of five. Four bunks plus a slide-out drawer for my younger sister. We took the long way around Africa to Australia as the Suez route was too dangerous at the time.
For the next 5 weeks, we took it easy. The first full day of the journey was my mum's birthday, memorable because my father remembered. First port of call was Southampton where we stepped ashore for a few hours. Not much to tell; it rained. People didn't seem very friendly to us Krauts. Nobody even mentioned the war.
Then we set sail for the Mediterrean. The Bay of Biscay took its usual toll on the stability of digestive processes. Most of the crew looked green... stabilisers, that wonder of modern technology to make rough seas smooth, had to be retracted because the going was too rough. For two days, breakfast sessions were almost entirely vacant.
Genoa. It was the next port of call and in my limited experience, Genoa is the last place you'd want to visit if you want to get a good impression of Italy. More than likely, it's quite different nowadays. Coming from a neat, clean German town and being confronted by street kids trying to steal or defraud, dodging rubbish blowing about the streets and trying not to step in something nasty... and for that my mum insisted that we look our best!
Naples was much more inviting and welcoming. There was a bus tour that took us towards Salerno and we had some pizza and oranges while overlooking Capri. Somewhere along the line, there was a tour out to Pompeii. I'm sure it must be interesting to somebody. There were plenty of tourists.
If Messina wasn't prelude to the tropics, then Tenerife was. I think that's where my sister discovered her allergy to flame trees. Something that prevented her from coming ashore in Cape Town a week later. There were plenty of Looney Tunes cartoons being shown in the cinemas so it wasn't difficult to find things to do.
After the long, boring haul from Cape Town, we arrived in Fremantle, Australia. I don't remember much from that time... My parents had been under the misapprehension that we'd be disembarking at the next port of call; Melbourne for transfer to Bonegilla but learnt on the way that the camp was deemed unsuitable for Germans and instead we'd have to continue to Sydney for settlement in the migrant reception centre in Villawood.
"Home" was then half a lined Nissen hut. Showers were communal. The dining hall was a long walk away. Cuisine stretched to exotics such as stewed mutton and damp lettuce. Bread had to be toasted. I vaguely remember taking the train to a swimming pool; it was an uncomfortably warm and humid April for us immigrants.
Our stay was temporary.
My father landed a job at Australian Iron & Steel in Kwinana; on the other side of the continent. That was almost far enough from Villawood.
Boarding the train in Sydney, we "sped" our way towards Melbourne, pausing only to change trains. Then we made our way to Adelaide. Pausing only to change trains. Then we sped our way to Port Pirie (or was that Port Augusta) where we changed trains to cross the Nullabor. Stopping along the way at a few dead Prime Ministers, we eventually had to change trains in Kalgoorlie, for the final leg to Perth. That last stretch was memorable because it seemed like the Great Western was straight out of a cowboy movie.
In Perth, I remember walking along the platform for a long time. Somehow, this dazed and confused child wound up standing at the junction of two major roads in Kwinana - wondering where to go next.
What am I?
A sentient(?) lifeform. I even recognize myself in the mirror most mornings. Maybe I ought to get a life, even if I am a product of what approximates to a life so far.
I am much more than a mere human being. My pan-dimensional skills span the universes of engineering and computing, combining to provide a hodge-podge of trivia that is so huge, that it's become uninteresting. (Tell me; who actually buys a Guiness Book of Records for themselves?)
What can I do?More than I ever imagined. Tenacity helps.
What have I done?
- Schools: Five in 12 years, University 6 years.
- Jobs: 3 full-time; a dozen or so part-time.
- Car crashes: 3 major
- Cars: 3 (plus bits of borrowed/hired ones)
- Poles: 10,000 (approx)
- Patents: 1
- Clubs/Associations: 6 (that I can remember)
- Publications: 4
- Lines of computer programs: OVERFLOW
I've been to only five schools (Schwalenberg, Schlangen, Safety Bay, Medina, Kwinana Senior High) and one university. And all I learnt there was that I know nothing.
Whilst studying for my Bachelor of Engineering degree, I had plenty of time to supplement my income by other means. Australia's Army Reserve turned me into a deadly killing machine, capable of outsmarting, out-digging and out-running any enemy. Which works well enough if you also have ammunition and batteries for all the widgets. I got very good at shouting.
Military training is more than a bit strange. To turn people into leaders, you keep telling them that they're useless; and insist that they do extensive landscaping in the most-impossible terrain, but not to do so that anybody notice. There were plenty of egomaniacs trying to vent their frustrations, part-time. There were also a number of really good people who had somehow allowed their competence to prevail. They resisted promotion to a level of incompetence.
Thus came my understanding of large organizations and the political machinations we all love to loathe.
As there are with most universities; there are distractions aplenty for those in vulnerable age groups. And I can honestly say that I lived with hundreds of women during those carefree years of study. At a residential college.
Another major distraction was the University Computer Club that filled in the gaps; existing or otherwise. The main attraction was ACC Murphy, their own multi-user Alpha Micro computer (in 1978) which gave me the opportunity to write some cool stuff I've largely forgotten or am trying to forget. It wasn't all games! I actually wrote programs to help me with engineering projects and used word processing whilst other students were bribing their mothers and sisters to type up their reports. Engineering computing resources were extremely limited; 2 hours per week was allocated per student; in addition to that allocated to computer-related units - and that was never enough.
Prior to graduating (after 6 years), I enriched my engineering expertise with practical experience; working in engine research, brewing and heavy construction. To sum that up, I helped to build and tow the world's biggest plough, and then provided the liquid refreshments when the work was done. Not exactly true, but never let the facts get in the way of a good story.
You call this a Career?A year after graduating, I managed to find employment as an Engineer in a company that made poles. Steel poles. My primary job was to improve manufacturing methods by automation and to design the poles to be built. After 7 years at that job, having also developed computer-based design tools for Engineers, and novel products, I decided to call their bluff: They kept on saying that "nobody's indispensible" whenever I asked for a raise.
I decided to join the hype-driven computer industry and found little tangible rewards; a year or so later, that company folded. What I gained from that was invaluable experience in a variety of things; not just computing. Well, hardly any computing. Unfortunately, "invaluable experience" doesn't pay mortgages so I took up the offer of another job in the industry a few months later.
For more than 8 year, that company went from strength to strength, partly aided by software engineering tools developed in-house with my assistance. Then, the rot set in and egos led to some really bad management decisions being made; some rooted in over-confidence some years earlier. In 1999, the company was put into liquidation. I happened to be overseas at the time; two weeks into a 10-week holiday.
I wasn't going to let spoil my holiday. A great deal happened before I got back to Australia. Being a foreigner, I couldn't look for a job in Europe, even though plenty were offered over the next eight weeks...
One of my former colleagues, who had been a director of the company and had placed it into liquidation, was on a "working holiday" in the UK and was arranging to obtain "essential infrastructure" and intellectual property from the liquidators so as to support the defunct company's former clients. I had my mobile phone with me and the former director asked if I were interested in forming a company to support former and future customers. My mobile phone bill was enormous; but manageable.
Upon my return to Australia, I was able to get stuck right into work, whilst all the t's were being crossed and the i's dotted. There was plenty of catching up to do with backlogs of work, Y2K testing and fixes, etc just in Perth. Then there was another 3-month contract of work to do in Sydney; something that is "secure" but not very lucrative because of the high costs of being in that place; and then climbing back out of the hole!
One tends to remember only the good things about places and events but it wasn't until earlier this year that I was reminded that there are a few nice people doing good things in spite of Sydney being the money-grubbing, disingenuous place I remember from my compelled internment.
Are you still reading this??
Persistent, aren't you?
Well so am I.
News: I'll be taking part in the World Solar Challenge as a support crew member of the Sungroper Team in October 2003. That's a solar-powered journey of over 3000km from the tropical Darwin in the North of Australia, down to Adelaide.
Maybe you were hoping I'd never show my font in this place again!
|Messages left for this Researcher||Posted|
|}:8)||Jun 18, 2002|
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|Hi bharf||Jun 10, 2002|
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