When I was in graduate school, I had to learn about Optimality Theory. It is a theory of phonology (the branch of linguistics that is concerned about how sounds are organized in languages), where it posits that several sound and word forms are generated, but most are pruned due to language-specific constraints (in English, a [z] cannot precede a [l] sound, unlike in Czech). Anyway, from a cognitive point of view, it seems pointless that the brain will generate all these possibilities, only to eliminate them later. So when I was in graduate school, I learned that while Optimality Theory is not a good theory of phonology (my department wasn't a big fan of it), it is a very good theory of life.
08 March 2014
When I spent a couple of days in Stralsund, I also did a daytrip to Rügen Island, which is the largest island in Germany. And one of the places I visited while in the island was Jagdschloss Granitz, or the Granitz Hunting Lodge. It is the most popular castle in the state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, with plenty of visitors every year. In fact, even though it was winter, there were still plenty of people who visited it while I was there myself.
06 March 2014
As a quick synopsis, this novel is actually a novel with 9 storylines. The stories move around the world, and features multiple main characters, from a terrorist in Okinawa, to a physicist in Ireland, to an art thief in Russia. It even features a ghost in Mongolia. The action of the novel takes the reader across various cities around the world, and all of these characters are somehow linked altogether. Sometimes, because the ghosts inhabit the other characters, or other characters temporarily brush against other characters. And through all of these characters, Mitchell paints a picture of humanity, that is on the brink of destruction, and yet provides a glimmer of hope that everything will be alright.
04 March 2014
Back in December, during the weekend before Christmas, I decided to go on a little trip. I remember seeing my travel calendar, and realizing that the last time I didn't sleep in Berlin was in late September, when I went on a business trip to Osnabrück. If I had waited until I went to Malta in January, then it would have been more than three months before I left Berlin again and slept in a place aside from in this city. So I decided to get a train ticket and spend 3 days/2 nights in northern Germany, in the Stralsund area, at the coast of the Baltic Sea.
02 March 2014
Of the many neighborhoods in Berlin, Prenzlauer Berg is perhaps the one that has attracted me the most. I don't live here myself; I live in Wilmersdorf, which is in the former west (and therefore is uncool, as they say). The other neighborhoods might be charming, but Prenzlauer Berg is the place where I can see myself living in. That being said, since it is in the former east, everyone wants to be there, and therefore the rents are high. Hence, I myself am not living there. Good thing Berlin has good public transportation, and therefore I can get there easily.