Never say Never

I’ve been blogging since 1999. The goal was to learn how to navigate the web, tell people about myself, and practice my writing skills. I used different platforms, whatever the style was at the time. The oldest version of my blog is still out there: Karin’s Adventures

After a few years of happily blogging away, just for my own entertainment, I realized that this wealth of personal history, adorned with lots of pictures I had taken, was totally dependent on somebody else’s hardware for its existence. What if that platform seized to exist? All my posts would be gone!

So, in 2007 I decided to go through that entire blog and copy every single post with all the attached photos into a word document. I was going to just print that out, put it in a binder, and keep it on my bookshelf. But then I thought about the time that would take, and the ink it would need, and the not so impressive looking result that would sit on my shelf, collecting dust. After a little bit of online research I discovered the concept of self-published books. The one provider that I liked the best is Lulu.

Every time I posted a new entry to my blog I also added a page to my book. Once in a while I would order a printed copy of the blog-book and give it to somebody – mostly just family – for a present. I really didn’t think anybody outside of my immediate family would spend money on something they could read online for free. Especially for content that was just personal thoughts, or experiences, of mine. Who would be interested in that?

Book cover "Karin's Adventures" vol. 2Well, never say never……. today Lulu notified me of a payment they made to my Paypal account. On April 4th a person in the US bought a paperback copy of volume 2 of my adventures.

After production cost and tax had been deducted, I ended up earning $7.12 – way more than I had ever expected. I don’t know who the buyer was. I’m thinking it must have been someone who knows me personally from somewhere. Makes me feel special. Thank you, unknown reader.

Hairy Affair

three different haircutsI’ve been cutting my own hair since 1981. I like the convenience of being self-sufficient. During the COVID-19 pandemic my hairstyle was unaffected by mandatory lockdowns of all kinds of businesses, including hair salons. The comments I got from people about my haircut have varied over the years, depending on how “in style” or “out of style” my personal style was at the time. Some people loved it, some people were indifferent, some people hated it. That’s OK. At one point I even published an instructional video on YouTube, so that people could do their own haircut, if they wanted to. Karin cutting her own hair

While I am personally still very satisfied with my looks, I sometimes envision something a little more “eye-catching”. When I first mentioned my idea to my husband, he simply shook his head and said: “please, don’t”. I love my husband, and I respect his opinion. So, of course, I will not cut my hair into a mohawk, fauxhawk, fade, undercut, or whatever this style would be called.
Since I lately discovered the wonderful world of endless possibilities with A.I., I prompted to generate an image of my avatar sporting a mohawk. I am surprised at how well this computer generated image represents my vision!

As expected my husband still doesn’t like the idea, but I thought my daughter might. She is a tattoo artist and has an eye for art in any form or shape. When I showed Alejandra Heartist the mohawk style, she explained that she didn’t like it because it would accentuate my “high” upper head and make it look even higher. Hm? That was exactly my point, I want to show off this physical feature of mine.
When I asked her for suggestions my daughter said I should show off my thick, now almost completely white, hair with a long bob and straight bangs. A.I. can do that too, of course.

What do you think?

Imagine Yourself

Karin painting a portrait of herself
Artificial Intelligence applications are the currently most hyped new technology. People’s opinions range from fear to concern to anticipation to euphoria – depending on what they hope for or worry about.

So, to be able to form my own opinion, I decided to educate myself and play with A.I.
Here’s my take: A.I. is definitely very artificial, but there is no intelligence involved. Other than, maybe the intelligence of those people who developed it.

I used ChatGPT to generate text, articles, explanations, letters, educational material for myself. As long as you thoroughly fact-check the results, it may be an interesting way to help with writing simple texts faster. A skillful prompt engineer can probably generate some pretty useful material, but be aware that the A.I. behaves like a teenager: if it doesn’t find real facts, it just makes up stuff. Adult supervision is strongly advised.

I also used to create a model of myself that I can now insert into images. The results from it are rarely as impressive as the one up top here, which may also be due to my lack of skills as a prompter. Some of the pictures the A.I. rendered were hilarious. Like a version of me with three arms, or a neck two feet long, or fingers that look like rubber tentacles. In one picture I wanted to paint myself as a shepherd, with my sheepdog laying next to me in the grass. What I got was a funny looking animal with a sheep’s body and a dog’s head.

At the current stage in its existance A.I. is sorely lacking anything like logical thinking, the ability to check its own findings, or basic math skills. It is nothing to worry about – yet. Except, maybe, that too many stupid people fall for some A.I. generated story, or image, or video.

When Farmers hang up their Boots

farmer's boots hanging on the town signLately I’ve seen rubber boots hanging off of town signs in rural areas around my home. This is meant to be a message for our government from our farmers. Agriculture is the wrong place to save money or cut subsidies!

What would happen, if farmers were forced to hang up their boots all over the country? I prefer my food to be produced locally, not somewhere far away and trucked around all over the place. So, if that means local farmers need a break on fuel taxes, or whatever else financial help, I’m all in.

Speed Trap Kirchseeon

Kirchseeon, the quaint little suburban/rural town in Bavaria just about 15 miles East of Munich that I call home, made national headlines because of its newly installed radar speed trap. The approximately 7,000 people currently living in Kirchseeon have been complaining for decades about traffic on the one (and only) main road cutting through town. Federal road B304 is travelled by over 17,000 thousand vehicles daily. Noise, dirt, and congestion are the main concerns. Accidents, luckily, are not a real problem – thanks to the congestion and speed limits of just 30 km/h for most of the side roads in town we only had 11 incidents involving cars in all of 2022. No fatalities from those.

speed trap KirchseeonSo in 2023 our municipal council, lead by a young energetic mayor, devised a plan how to turn the stream of vehicles into a stream of revenue. The radar speed control camera went live on December 20th and paid for itself within the first ten days by taking over 3,000 expensive black-and-white photos of drivers in an awful hurry – both ways, in and out of town.

Kirchseeon and the successful income generator were quickly noticed by media all over Germany. Now, with January in the books, we see a slight downturn – “only” over 4,000 flashes in January – but still a pretty elegant way to augment our struggling budget. Who knows, maybe  money from this contraption will some day help to fix the public swimming pool?

In my opinion the most genius part of this project was picking the best location for the trap. The reasons given – “there’s a school nearby” – “we want to improve traffic safety in town” – don’t sound very credible. The school entrance is on a side road, about half a block West of the camera. Traffic safety in town will likely not improve by radar control at a location 300 ft. West of city limits.

The location was picked specifically for topographical reasons. It sits at the bottom of a hill. People driving East, out of town, can see the city limits sign, and the speed limit changing there from 50 km/h to 70km/h on top of the hill. So everybody naturally steps on it right before the speed trap to “race” to the top of the hill. People driving West, coming into town, reach the top of the hill at the permitted 70 km/h (or often higher) and are met with the city limits sign – no chance to slow down to 50 km/h within those 300 ft. remaining.

Kirchseeon Spannleitenberg