Okay, so it’s already Monday, but who cares?
First of all, many congratulations to Sebastian Vettel for becoming the youngest Formula One champion ever at age 23 after winning the Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi. What is more, Vettel’s win the championship very much against the odds, for Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso was still in the overall lead at the start of the final match.
Not really new, since it happens once a year or so, but always an impressive sight: The Disney Dream, the biggest ever cruise liner built at a German yard, left the dock at Papenburg last night and traveled some thirty kilometers down the very narrow river Ems to the North Sea. Unfortunately, the Disney Dream completed the whole trip by night (they have to wait for high tide), so we didn’t get the usual incongruous vistas of an enormous cruise liner looming above green fields with grazing Friesian cows or at one point crossing a highway, which tunnels under the river Ems, because bridges would interfere with the cruise ship transits. But at least, the people of Papenburg got to enjoy a firework, courtesy of the Lords of the Mouse, and plush versions of Mickey, Minnie, Donald and Daisy came to visit.
The background is that the shipyard Meyer-Werft has become one of the foremost builders of luxury cruise liners in the world in the past twenty-five years or so, yet they retain the building facilities at Papenburg some thirty kilometers upstream on the river Ems where the yard was founded in 1795. Which – even though it requires sending giant cruise vessels through a narrow river and disturbing some local wildlife (at least according to environmentalists) – is a very good thing, because the yard is also the biggest employer in a region that’s not exactly rich in jobs.
Good news for all of us bilinguals: Bilingualism may delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease by five years (found via Juliette Wade). Take that, all of you English/German/Whatever language only activists. It’s very telling BTW that the study was conducted in Canada, which is of course bilingual itself.
Janice Hardy, whose writing posts I have come to enjoy of late, on how internal conflict can add to or deepen a scene. I’ve recently run into this issue in my current novel WIP, where I had a highly dramatic scene (sudden onset of labour, ambulance taking too long to respond and the only people at hand are a couple of bewildered coworkers of the mom-to-be), yet it still didn’t feel quite right, in spite of the fact that the protagonist and POV character was harbouring an unrequited love for the mom-to-be. So what did I do? I changed the scene so that the protagonist was risking his job by rushing the mom-to-be to the hospital. And not only does he risk it, he also loses it. But have no fear, he gets the woman (and her baby) in the end. Hey, it is a romance after all.
Finally, some housekeeping notes: I added some more links to the blogroll and installed a plug-in that will hopefully stop comment spam. So far it isn’t working too well, because I had to delete yet another spam comment. I also added two new header images to the rotation. One is a detail of an Art Deco building off the Place de la Monnaie a.k.a. Muntplain (all streets in Brussels have two names, one in Flemish and one in French) in Brussels. The second is a detail view of the gables of Hamburg townhall, an impressive Neorenaissance building completed in 1897. If you’re at all interested in architecture and live in Europe, one thing you learn very quickly is how to distinguish between genuine gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, etc… and its Victorian revivals. The rule of thumb is, if it’s bigger and the stylistic elements more extreme, it’s probably Victorian.