June 29 2000

The American way of Life

Craig muses about the differences between life in America and Europe. When we went to the US, I didn’t notice that everything is faster than in Europe. But of course we were on vacation, so we probably weren’t able to notice. But compared to other countries, life in Germany can seem fast too. I noticed this when I traveled to Kenya. In Africa, everybody has time. People relax.

A good example is the public transport system in Kenya. It consists mostly of buses for traveling between larger cities (like Nairobi, Mombasa, Kisumu) and matatus that connect even the smallest villages with one another. These don’t run on schedule. They just wait for passengers, and when the matatu is full, it leaves. They drop off people and pick up new passengers along the way, and nobody complains if it takes a while to get from one village to another. Of course, most people don’t own cars, so it’s the only way to get from one place to another if you don’t want to walk – which would of course take even more time.

You have to keep in mind that the roads in Kenya are a lot worse than they are in the US or Europe. No freeways, no Autobahn – most roads are in bad shape and have more holes than pavement. A trip from Nairobi to Mombasa (250 miles or 400 km) takes eight hours despite the road being in relatively good shape.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not critizising the Kenyan roads or transport system in any way. I totally enjoyed my trip and learned that there is a different way of living, a more relaxed one where people don’t complain if the train is ten minutes late…

Speaking of Craig (above) and adventures (below)…

Craig also mentioned that his wife and son went on vacation, too, while he and his daughter were touring Europe. They hiked down into Grand Canyon! Now that’s what I call an adventure! When André and I visited Grand Canyon, we decided we had to come back one day and hike down. I guess you don’t understand how huge the canyon really is until you walk all the way down and up on the other side.


John said: “I think Andrea and André are always having new adventures, most recently the World Exposition.”

Well, the Expo was not that adventurous… When I hear the word Adventure, I think of climbing high mountains, getting lost in the jungle or something like that, not “civilised” adventures like surviving a day at the Expo whith only a few thousand visitors present. clown:

Craig says he wishes he could see the “well of knowledge” in the Czech pavilion I described yesterday. Unfortunately, I didn’t take a picture of it because I thought it wouldn’t work, but I should have anyway. But since I had a “normal” camera with me and not a digital one, you would have had to wait for the photos to be developed anyway.

Craig, if we get to visit the Expo again, I’ll be sure to take a photo of the “well of knowledge”.

By the way, Sheila (who liked the idea of the “well of knowledge” as well) went to the Expo 1986 in Vancouver, Canada. Has anybody else been to any Expo?


Zur Abwechslung jetzt auch mal wieder was auf Deutsch. Sorry, daß ich den Expo-Bericht von gestern nicht übersetzt habe. Nachdem alle deutschsprachigen Leser in meiner Umfrage zugegeben haben, auch Englisch zu können, hatte ich keine Lust, all die Links nochmal auf Deutsch zu suchen…

Wissenschaftssommer und Jahr der Physik

Die arme Physik scheint so verkannt zu sein, daß es jetzt ein Jahr der Physik gibt!

Im Moment läuft dazu hier in Bonn eine Ausstellung im Zelt auf dem Müsterplatz: Gebändigtes Licht. Da muß ich heute mal vorbeischauen. Heute abend gibt’s dazu auch noch einen Vortrag in der Uni: “Was ist Licht?” von Prof. Dr. Herbert Walther, MPI für Quantenoptik, Garching.

Und morgen findet dann die Internationale Bonner Wissenschaftsnacht statt. Titel: “Global Brain – die Evolution von Wissen und Handeln”. Das Programm ist hier zu finden.


Der Vortrag “Was ist Licht?” war leider eine Enttäuschung. Angekündigt als Vortrag für Laien, hat der Dozent es nicht geschafft, Begriffe wie Resonanz, angeregtes Atom, Photon und vieles andere zu erklären, so daß die Laien wohl im Dunkel blieben… während das Niveau für Physiker und Physikstudenten natürlich zu niedrig war. Mir wurde auch nicht so ganz klar, was genau in dem Vortrag eigentlich ‘rübergebracht werden sollte. Ich hatte mir vorgestellt, daß das Dualitätsprinzip, d.h. die Wellen- und Teilchennatur des Lichts dargestellt wird. Stattdessen erzählt der Prof was von klassischem, nichtklassischem und Laserlicht… schade.

9 thoughts on “June 29 2000

  1. Andrea Frick

    Okay, okay, maybe the trip to Kenya (and Tansania) was an adventure. At least my mom thought so – her 20-year-old daughter on a four-week trip to Africa, without as much as a hotel reservation even for the first night…

    But hey, this was five years ago! A long, long time ago…

  2. Craig Jensen

    Hi Andrea,

    I guess that “pace of life” is a relative thing. At the beginning of my trip I was disappointed that the stores and shops closed so early, unlike in the States where nearly everythings stays open until 9:00 or 10:00 pm. But after the first day I realized that people must be going home to their families or going out to the cafes with friends. In Koblenz I saw couples and familes out “window shopping” in the same area that you, André and I walked around during the day. In Prague, it was even more obviously so and very pleasant once I put aside my expectations and desire to “shop”.

    Perhaps I have romanticized things a bit, but I believe we have over done it in America. Work, work, work, buy, buy, buy, etc., until you drop.

  3. Jeff Cheney

    Like Sheila, I too attended the 1986 World’s Fair in Vancouver, British Columbia. It was fairly crowded. I remember that the Australian pavilion was the most friendly–G’day, Mate! All the others were either unmanned or very stiff. The Swiss had a very cool train set. And there was the Omnimax theater, which was fairly new at that time.

    Somewhere at home I have a special commemorative 1986 World’s Fair Swatch watch. I’ll have to dig it up and take a picture…

  4. Craig Jensen

    I guess I’ll really date myself by relating this, I went to the 1964 World’s Fair in New York City. Like Jeff I have some memorabilia somewhere, but I would really have to dig to find it.

  5. Andrea Frick

    In Germany, there’s a law regulating the opening hours of all shops, the Ladenschlussgesetz. Shops have recently been allowed to be open till 8 pm instead of 6:30 pm weekdays and 4 pm istead of 2 pm on Saturdays. Of course, the people who work in shops have been complaining about that, but all the other people want long opening hours.

    It is now being discussed to repeal all laws that regulate the opening hours, but I doubt this will happen.

    I think it’s nice to be able to shop till 8 pm, especially in summer, but supermarkets don’t need to be open 24/7 just in case you need some milk at 3 am.

  6. John Marden

    Me too. I remember the Unisphere, and had a little replica of it. That was also the first time I had that flat NY pizza. It was good.
    There was a weird Abraham Lincoln robot, I think in the Disney exhibit.

  7. Craig Jensen

    I can’t deny the convenience of extended hours, but I believe that it does erode the quality of life. The focus shifts from creative ways to fill the evening hours to consumerism and competition.

  8. Andrea Frick

    You are right. But somehow, I can’t believe that all the shops have to close at a certain hour to make people find something more interesting to do than shopping. Maybe hours for TV broadcasting should be limited as well? Of course, other people would say that the internet poses a similar danger, so internet access should be limited to certain hours a day, too?!

    Everybody can choose what to do in the evenings. There are many possibilities!

    This is a difficult issue especially here in Germany. On one hand, I believe in freedom of choice: If shops want to open till 10 pm or even 24/7, why not let them? On the other hand, it’s a good idea to have a law regulating the opening hours for the sake of the people working in stores and supermarkets. After all, they want time for themselves and their families, too.

Comments are closed.