Who am I and what I do
I was born in Niagara Falls, Canada, lived in Toronto and London, Ontario, where my pretty big family still lives, finished school in the wonderful town of Speyer in the equally wonderful Palatinate in Germany and, after a painful decision with trial and error, chose to stay there. I'm a baby-boomer and consider myself to be a "post-68er", consciously and thankfully following the path paved by the "68ers" German student movement. My heart has been beating on the left ever since, although I've become highly disillusioned with that generation. I support Greenpeace, Adbusters and attac. I'm a geography and mapping freak, having drawn my first street maps at the age of 11. Nevertheless, I first took up studies in business administration and foreign trade. But my interest in planning lead me to switch and become an urban planner. In the meantime, I've lived in several other German cities (Ludwigshafen, Kaiserslautern, Schwerin, Berlin) and for 2 1/2 years in Nepal. I'm a late-bloomer, married a wonderful Canadian teacher from Kitchener, with whom I have 3 great kids still undergoing education. We now live in Stuttgart, Germany.
Deep thinking Germans created a number of wonderful words that are hard to translate; one of them is "weltanschauung" which lit. translates into "view upon the world" and commonly translated as "ideology". But the term covers quite a lot more and may include religious beliefs. I'm an atheist and drawn to Buddhism and Zen. I believe the first world is living in frivolous, obscene abundance and mankind to be sitting on a huge ocean liner heading for an iceberg, already quite visible ahead. Even if all engines are turned into reverse and the rudder is completely turned, the iceberg will be hit. I've been engaged in various political activities since my late teens and I'm trying to do my best to make this crash as small as possible (yes, yes, at the time of the crash the iceberg will have melted).
Apart from mapping and planning I do have a number of interests, which I've pursued for quite some years and which are worth mentioning.
It was not only growing up bilingually that made me interested in languages. Actually my mother tongue German is Palatinate; High German I acquired during my school years in Germany and actually only really mastered after having lived in the north of the country for 10 years. But, as the former German chancellor Kohl who fought his Palatinate accent in vain, thus often ridiculed, I'm always given away by a Palatinate accent. I'm proud of it. Being bilingual is a most wonderful asset and my wife and I made sure our kids benefit from it. Already as a kid I was fascinated with the relationships of English and German and aspired to know everything about it which made me dig into language history. In high school I started French which I continued at university level, adding two years of Spanish. I find it quite easy to understand spoken and written Dutch, texts in Spanish and to a lesser degree in Italian or Portuguese and the Nordic languages. I have a keen eye for the relationship of all these languages with one another. I spent 2 1/2 years in Nepal as development worker with my family , studied the language intensively for 6 months and used it more or less during our stay. I've been keeping up my knowledge in Nepali after our return. I'm very much for the preservation of languages; they are windows into different cultures and ways of thought.
Politics and Philosophy
In my view the main purpose in life is to make the world a better place. Thus I keep close tabs on world politics, especially, of course, German and Canadian ones. Until I started a family I was heavily involved in the peace movement of the 70s and 80s and in labour union work. I'm particularly interested in metaphysical questions of right and wrong, normalcy, justice, human rights, equality, good and bad, civilization, consciousness, freedom, poverty etc.
Of course, closely related to my interest in geography is mapping. I know where all countries of the world are and I'm familiar at least with the major geographical, topographical, socio-economical characteristics of most countries. I can tell most large cities of the world by their lay-out or from satellite view and I have a big collection of maps.
History and Anthropology
I'm quite familiar with German, European and, somewhat less, Canadian history. I studied the history of the Jews, the state of Israel and the Middle East extensively and I've been a close follower of Middle-East-politics since the 6-day-war. I'm very interested in endangered peoples and cultures of the world, among others native Americans, Inuit, Khoisan, Maori, native Australians, South Pacific.
Linguistics, Politics, Philosophy, Geography, History and Anthropology automatically make me a candidate for lots of travelling. I consider myself very fortunate to have been to 40 countries on 5 continents. The most awesome place, so far, was Nemrut Dag in Kurdistan, Turkey.
With the birth of our first child I became interested in family research and dug out ancestors as deep as the 1600s. I discovered a Jewish great-great-grandmother who's uncle was the renown German Jew Leopold Zunz and who in turn was befriended to the poet Heinrich Heine. From school times Heine happened to be my favourite poet.
What I do at Wikipedia
I dropped in coincidently and found the idea most intriguing. I'm well aware of it's pros and cons. I realize it's also kind of a game, measuring ones knowledge and comparing it with others. I spend much more time reading the discussion pages than the actual articles. I have made many contributions especially about countries and cities I'm familiar with (Canada, Germany, Nepal). I've greatly expanded the Nepali-German dictionary and I'm still working on it. It's very time consuming and other people also working on it seem to have dropped out. Time permitting I'd also like to start a Nepali-English dictionary. But I've also done forays into new fields, e. g. I started the page about "boot camps".
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to my pictures contributed to Wikimedia.|