Where I Have Been

It used to be a kind of contest for me in my own mind: how much of this world could I colour in (having been there). Then I would look at these pieces of the globe and readily conjure awesome memories of my travels. Collecting new experiences and being a tourist somewhere is fun, but I’m beginning to find that what I savor the most is the people I am with on the trip and the feeling of coming home. It’s less these days about seeing a place for myself or saying I’ve been somewhere. So regarding these maps which I update, I think I now enjoy it for the graphical design itself more than anything else.

So here’s the latest map:


It now includes short visits to Poland, Czechia, and parts of Netherlands. A longer visit to Crete is visible, as well as some longer stints in other parts of Denmark, Switzerland, and Germany. The highlight of all of those was probably Wroclaw and Crete. Wroclaw because I immediately got a good feeling from the city as being a place I wouldn’t mind living someday. It has culture but it also has edge, and I get the sense it is keeping some cool secrets. Crete because I took it slow there and was really able to relax. This is something which I think you don’t realize how much you’ve missed until you’ve got it. To just be at peace is a wonderful feeling. On Crete I started sketching with pens, and I started reading a lot more, too.

Here’s the original layout:


I’ll mention a big shortcoming of these maps which is that the geographical area of a place has little relevance to the time I spent there or the experiences I had meanwhile. Have I traversed up and down Ontario Province in Canada? No.. I’ve been to Toronto and a couple of other cities a few times, but my memories there are not as remarkable as the sheer amount of green filled-in would imply. On the other hand, Budapest and Belgrade are practically invisible, but I lived out much more adventure there.

Here’s what I do find really useful about these maps though. It makes it very easy for me to tell people where my familiarities lie. I think I can tell a lot about person with a list of everything they’ve read and everywhere they’ve been, and I feel a person could tell a lot about me with this information. One can just glance at the maps and understand something which would otherwise take a while to explain. It doesn’t tell you everything, but it’s a place to start.

2020 is starting to look like it has some interesting travel in store. I’ll be sure to let you know once it all pans out.

A Month Without Social Media

After a conversation with my little brother and couple of friends about social media, I decided to give it up for a month.

Our discussion went about as you would expect. On the one hand, social media is causing all kinds of addiction, depression, and is a big reason why no one goes outside anymore. It has made political discourse kind of trashy, if you know what I mean. On the other hand, social media can connect us with friends and events happening nearby, and it can bring us joy here and there. In other words, like everything in life it can be used or misused. And like every new technology, humans first find a way to grossly misuse it. I think my relationship with social media is measured and restrained, but then again probably everyone thinks that even when they are in too deep. When I thought about it, I realized that since 2005, I’ve checked my social media somewhat regularly without any sort of a long break. I wouldn’t say that social media is a big part of my life, but it’s always been there. Time to try something new.

First, I did what everyone does when they try something new. I told everyone about it and plastered it all over social media. Seems ironic I know, but I can use the tools available against those very tools, can’t I?

So I made this logo:


And posted this blurb:


Amazingly, a few people jumped on board. Besides me, seven others (that I know about), committed to the challenge:


Some of them are close friends, others I don’t really know that well, but I was really happy with each of them saying they were with me. Knowing that others were participating really gave me some encouragement. Several of them are usually quite active on various SoMe platforms, which left me impressed that they would commit so readily.

Ok, on with the results. Here’s what I gave up:

Facebook – Before September, I checked it once or twice a day to see if anyone got married or if any cool events were happening in town.
Instagram – checked it a few times a day, mainly because I think the photos are pretty.
Reddit – used this to kill a lot of time, even when the situation or the level of boredom didn’t demand such a remedy.
Snapchat – didn’t really use this one but gave it up anyway.
Twitter – checked once per day but never spent much time on it. Still, it’s evil so it made the list.

What I did instead:

I read 400 pages of a book, I wrote, and I worked on personal projects. I slept better, I got more work done, and I went out more. All the positive effects were a direct result of simply having more time, though. I didn’t find myself relieved or something like that by being free from the influences of a filtered version of others’ lives. It’s not like September was suddenly free from envy and my self-image improved etc. I think those were mainly intact to begin with. In the end, it had me thinking about how I spend my time.


Commuting to work on my bicycle always feels worth it despite taking longer than driving.

Without using my phone so much I still passed time in less-than-very productive ways, but the key difference is that I remembered what I did. If I saw something in a book, I found that I remembered it hours later. When I’m mindlessly scrolling on my phone, I find that I almost instantly forget what I just saw a few seconds ago. I also broke the habit of having my hand move toward my pocket a few times every hour.

I think this experiment was well worth it. Someone I spoke to about it suggested that I make the next break just for 1 week. They told me that far more people would join if that was the case, but to give up SoMe for a whole month was crazy. Well, it didn’t feel so crazy to me, and I was almost a little surprised at how easy it was.

Now it’s the end of September and I’ll allow myself back on these platforms again tomorrow. However, I feel that things will be different from now on. Oh, and who wants to join me for… #NoSocialMediaFirstWeekOf2020 ?

The Rabbits of Bessungen

In many places, rabbits adorn windows and bits of landscape at Easter time, but where I live this is a year-round phenomenon.


The white rabbit in this glasses shop is a typical sight in Bessungen

Due to a legendary over-breeding and subsequent infestation of rabbits in the fields of Bessungen sometime in the late 16th century, this region of modern-day Darmstadt and by extension its people, have come to be associated with them. At the time of the French revolution with their occupation of this region and lands west, a term was coined for the Bessungers: lapin (the French for rabbit). This morphed at some point into lapping, the term used today.

So, for spending Easter without family or religions obligations, I decided to shoot some rabbits (with my camera). Of course the area has developed quite a bit in the last couple hundred years, so it’s quite rare these days that one sees a real rabbit in Bessungen. Instead, my tour of the neighborhood would be in search of rabbits in other forms. This would start, of course, with the sculpture in front of the local elementary school, perhaps the most immediately recognizable leporine depiction in town.


Sculpture in front of a local elementary school


Detail of the sculpture

It is impossible not to notice the rabbits in shop windows along the way.


Admittedly the colored rabbits on the left are just for Easter, but the white one on the right has a permanent presence in this window


They’re not just in the windows of quaint local businesses.. this one guards a soulless bank.

And indeed in the very names and logos of local businesses..


Beloved local bakery with a white rabbit in the window and rabbity logo on the door



Beloved local bookstore, with some lapping flair on the shop sign


The best döner in town, with a local mascot


Photo inside Lappings, from this nice article about their reopening

However, the place to get a traditional meal with your non-local friend is clearly at Weinwirtschaft Heiping, where this sign greets one out front:


“Here meet the [resident of the German state of Hessen] and the Lapping (Bessunger)”

My last stop on the rabbit hunt was the mural on my street:


It doesn’t get more Bessungen than this: a rabbit on the left and the coat of arms on the right

The good people of Bessungen clearly like to distinguish themselves from their neighbors in the rest of Darmstadt. They have their own Christmas market, their own spring festival, and as you can see, they also have a peculiar yet lovable mascot to represent all of their quirkiness.

Happy Easter.


First, the updated alternative ‘everywhere I’ve ever been’ chart:


..now includes Albania!

To keep this very brief, I’ll list some the nice things I discovered in Albania:

Nice things

I can totally recommend a visit to Albania. I was only there for a few days, but I’m sure I’ll go back again soon. I’m particularly interested in getting out in nature more, hiking in the mountains in the north and visiting the much raved about city of Korçë in the southeast.

Turkish Relationships version.2

After my first attempt to map out the familial terms in Turkish (https://thisworldview.wordpress.com/2017/08/30/turkish-relationships/), I’ve formed a revised edition which I think is easier to read and more informative.

Turkish version:

Turkish Relationships c4

English version:

Turkish Relationships ce2

The major improvement aside from the formatting, is the addition of the terms in blue. Those show the term usage going the other way. So to the husband, his wife’s sister is his baldız. But from her perspective, he is her enişte.

As always.. use it, share it, or don’t.

Where I’ve Been

I love it when I have to update this map:


Because it means I’ve recently been to new places. This is the Where I’ve Been map; green means I’ve been there, red means I’ve lived there.

The latest edits show that I’ve seen more of Germany (where I live), stopped off in Greece for an evening (it counts for my map, but I’m telling you I’ll be back there anyway- I instantly loved it), and I’ve skipped around bits of nearby Europe as well. Here’s a closer view:

WIB 9a1I must say though that such a map emphasizes the geographical size of countries and provinces, which is not significant given what I intend to convey. I think I will therefore adopt a different sort of map. Probably something which looks a lot like this:


With each country being the same size it is easier to see the detail about where I’ve been within them. Left to right and then top to bottom (like you read a book) is also the order in which I visited these countries for the first time. I put the country names in their respective native languages, but here’s a list of them in English, in case that’s a little too confusing:


Turkish Relationships

In Turkish, there are more words to describe familial relationships than in English. This can be confusing for the newly acquainted (and even for most Turkish people). However, it can be fun to use these words, because having a special name for something makes a thing feel more special.

So, what does a woman call her husband’s brother’s wife? In English, that would be “brother-in-law’s wife”, but in Turkish, the word is “elti”. Without further ado, let’s go to the flow chart for this.

Turkish relationships d

As you probably guessed, H=husband, W=wife, B=brother, and S=sister. Every relationship is described from the perspective of the big-H Husband or the big-W Wife. So for example, the Wife’s sister’s husband is her enişte, but she is his wife’s sister, or baldız. For elti and bacanak, they are those words to each other. So you are your bacanak’s bacanak. Another way to put this is that if two sisters are both married, their husbands are bacanak to each other. Or if two brothers are both married, their wives would refer to each other as elti. I recommend that you fill this chart in with the names of people in your own family, to make it clearer.

There are other words for describing uncles and aunts. Here they are:

Amca – Uncle (father’s brother)
Dayı – Uncle (mother’s brother)
Teyze – Aunt (mother’s sister)
Hala – Aunt (father’s sister)
Yenge – Uncle’s wife
Enişte – Aunt’s husband

Notice these last two are also used for the wife/husband of the brother/sister in the flowchart. So enişte is the husband (or boyfriend for that matter) of your sister or your aunt.

Now -just for fun- one more:
The father-in-law or mother-in-law of your child is your dünür. Useful, right?