Thursday, November 23, 2017

Try Again in 136 Years

This is a rounded figure for the original message was “Send quota exceeded, try again in 4294967295 seconds”. It was popping up on my screen when I tried to send you the usual e-mail, announcing two new blogs.
©Deutsche Telekom
In the past Red Baron has already had many struggles with his Internet provider Deutsche Telekom. The present problem seemed to be a recurrent one. Already three year ago a similar message appeared although the time lapse given then was only 46800 seconds so the following morning I was able to send e-mails again. The reason eventually was that the Magenta Giant had allowed me to send only 200 e-mails per months. When I complained that being a member in various associations I frequently had to send group mails Telekom technicians flipped a switch on their server and solved the problem. What had happened this time?

On November 14, Telekom had changed my telephone from ISDN (Integrated Services Digital Network ) to VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) so I was suspicious that the troublemaker was the switch again.

When I called the Telekom hotline on November 19, the guy on the other end told me that the strange message was not their problem but a problem with Microsoft's Outlook mail program. I should rather call their specialists.

When I insisted, he gave me another special Telekom number. On the other end of the line a girl took note writing down the above error message and promising that a specialist would soon look into the matter and call me back.

In vain was I waiting for the telephone call during the evening so I called back Telekom the following morning. Same scenario: they will study the problem and call me back.

During the morning I looked as silly as those few other people carrying their mobile phone from machine to machine while working their muscles at Kieser Training*.
*A blog on Kieser Training is in the pipeline

Luckily nobody had called me during my training session but the telephone rang when I was at home having lunch. I was not at all prepared and had to switch on my PC first, but the friendly lady on the other end told me not to hurry and worry. Thanks to SSD the booting of my PC only required 25 seconds and soon the lady and Red Baron were in business. She really opened my eyes guiding me to a magenta-colored bar and showed me (Honi soit qui mal y pense) that my e-mail storage on the Telekom server had reached 1 GByte so rien ne va plus.

There was amazement and disbelief on my side but in a certain sense the first guy was right although he did not tell me how to cure an obvious MS Oulook bug. I use to delete very old mails on my PC on a regular basis but they still remained on the Telekom server!

The Telekom lady on-line showed me how to squeeze their server so that deleted e-mails are gone forever. One actually can set time limits ranging from 3 to 90 days for keeping mail elements on the server before they are deleted.

However it was not over yet, for the next attempt to send a group mail failed with the known error message. Since most of the Telekom service technicians kept harping on MS Outlook I eventually transported the blog address list to the Telekom mail program sending my group e-mail to you from there last night.

Sending the group e-mail again failed but now a different message popped up informing me that I had exceeded the allowed quota of 100 e-mail addresses in a month with my present contract. At the same time Telekom offered an upgrade of my relation with their server that I will never need. I grudgingly accepted their proposal being sure that during the recent month I did not sent e-mails to more than 100 addresses.

This morning my group e-mail passed using MS Outlook ... hurrah, I am back in business again.

Sunday, November 19, 2017


Red Baron has always been an admirer and supporter of the Freiburg Munster church and of its steeple, the most beautiful in the world according to Jacob Burckhardt der schönste Turm der Welt.

When I moved to Freiburg in 2001 I noticed that the Münsterbauverein (MBV, Munster Building Association) was not presented in the Internet. So I built their first homepage that was eventually replaced in 2012 by a more professional presentation, sic, made by professionals.

As renumeration the MBV endowed me with a slice of an original Middle Age pinnacle that I proudly present on my balcony.

Note the stonemasons' mark

Last year the MBV invited their members to become more financially active by reviving the position of the Middle Age Münsterpfleger (Caretaker of the Munster).

Eventually I received the photo of my bestowal as Münsterpfleger. Red Baron is wearing too small a cape that was only available for the photo shooting. The picture was taken on the fringe of the opening of an exhibition of water spouts from the Munster church.

©Daniel Schoenen/MBV

Here are some highlight of the water spout exhibition. Water spouts at medieval cathedrals are supposed to deter bad spirits like the woman with only one tooth. During the early Reformation nuns left their convent and frequently married runaway monks so the water spout got a special interpretation. Rumor spread that only nuns with teeth were allowed to marry. In this sens the water-spouting nun presents her only remaining tooth: Look, I am still available for marriage.

One tooth only
Aufhocker (crouchers) are a popular motif for water spouts on medieval churches presenting people having nightmares. Humans or wild animals are crouching on people giving them bad dreams.

The oldest water spout at the Munster church dates from 1240
The billy goat crouching on a man as the symbol of lust (wet dreams?)
The sow as symbol of gluttony
Blecken, i.e., showing the butt
is a well known motif in the Middle Ages to deter bad spirits.
Nowadays the word blecken is rarely used in the combination of Zähne blecken:
The dog is showing his/her teeth.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Luther and the German Language

Luther und die deutsche Sprache. In yesterday‘s lecture, Professor Lobenstein-Reichmann defended her three theses instead of Martin Luther’s 95:

I. Although frequently claimed: Luther did not invent the German language

II. Luther did not foster a unification of the German language

III. Luther hat dem Volk nicht aufs Maul geschaut (did not look at the peoples‘ mouths). Therefore he was neither a linguistic genius nor a ruffian.

1. In spite of the many dialects, people understood each other in German territories well before Luther in Frühhochdeutsch (Early High German). The famous Heidelberg Disputation of 1518 saw Luther from Saxoniy discussing with Alsatian theologians speaking their Alemannic dialect because Philip, Duke of Palatinate-Neuburg, their host, did not understand Latin, the lingua franca of the Middle Ages.

The Luther Triangle. The thick horizontal line represents the border between Low and High German dialects
2. Germany‘s linguistic atlas shows that Luther was working in the middle of the German-speaking territory. His German was certainly influenced by the many scholars from all regions sitting with Luther and his wife Käthe (Katharina) at the table for lunch and dinner where the reformer held his famous Tischgespräche (table talks). So he certainly did not write, as one often reads, in Meißen‘s Kanzleistil (office style) although in Hamburg somebody trying to „upgrade“ his lower-German elocution with high-German words is said to talk missingsch, i. e., meißnerisch.

Luther‘s choice of words was not guided by the most extended distribution pattern. So he proposed the less frequent Lippe (lip) instead of the wide-spread Lefze (chaps) although the latter word is still known today as the lip of wild animals and jokingly used in the case of humans.

In the case of Geißel (scourge) used by Luther in his German Bible the Slavic Peitsche (whip) became the winner. In modern language Geißel is only religiously known or used in a figurative sense.

In his translation of the Bible into German Luther‘s driving force rather was: How do I best transport the verity of the Gospel. In his Sendbrief vom Dolmetschen (Epistle about Translation) he clearly states that translation means transmission of evangelical truth.

3. In his concern for spreading the Gospel Luther used a German language that he thought was appropriate to the occasion. He always wrote facing his potential readers. For him language and theology were interlaced.

Here is a nice example: Lieber Bapst, man soll dich bescheissen und an die Sonne setzen und lassen wider trocken werden, dass ich mit gutem gewissen jnen für einen Fartzesel und Gottes feind halten mag. Mich kan er nicht für einen esel halten, denn er weiß, das ich von Gottes sonder gnaden gelerter bin in der Schrifft (Dear pope, one should shit on you, place you in the sun, and let you dry so that with a good conscience I may take you for a farting donkey and God‘s foe. He cannot take me for a donkey for he knows that I am knowledgeable in the Gospel thanks to God‘s special grace).

In olden days Luther’s Bible often was the only book in a Protestant home. The fact that during long winter evenings somebody knowledgeable read some text to all others in the household established a common high-German vocabulary during the 18th and 19th century.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Reformation Jubilee

It is finished.

Yesterday, on Reformation Day, Germany lived through the climax of the Year of Luther that had started on October 31, 2016. The 500th anniversary of Luther posting 95 theses at Wittenberg against the abuse of indulgence by the Catholic Church gave the nation an extra holiday. Elisabeth and I used the sunny day to fill our pantry in neighboring France.

We did so not out of disrespect but knowing that the Reformation will continue beyond October 31, 2017, both spiritually and by a series of talks to be given at Freiburg’s university examining various consequences of Luther’s feats.

Luther's personality is dazzling; he, who announced the Freiheit eines Christenmenschen (On the freedom of a Christian), i.e., the freedom of a person to find his individual way to God, was at the same time intolerant and brutal against the established Roman Church, Calvinists, Jews, and others who refused to follow his ideas. He admits in his own words: Ich bin dazu geboren, das ich mit den rotten und teuffeln mus kriegen und zu felde ligen, darumb meiner bücher viel stürmisch und kriegerisch sind. Ich mus die klötze und stemme ausrotten, dornen und hecken weg hawen, die pfützen ausfullen und bin der grobe waldrechter, der die ban brechen und zurichten muss (I am born to wage war and I am at war with with hordes and devils, therefore my books are pretty stormy and warlike. I have to destroy stumps and trunks, chop away thornbushes and hedges, fill in puddles. I am the coarse lumberman clearing and tilling fresh ground).

Red Baron, educated as a Catholic in his youth, shared Lutheran ideas as an adolescent, arriving at the conclusion that the Church can only give guidance. Everybody has to find his/her individual way to God. I thoroughly studied the Bible starting in my first school year with a book full of stories and wood carvings. Later I read the Luther Bible in its original version and loved Luther's powerful language. I am still proud that when discussing religion with a Mormon colleague, I was the guy with the more profound biblical knowledge. Was he fixated instead on the Book of Mormon?