• Tag Archives Daily Travels
  • I long for the Golden Age of Travel

    The 1920’s and 1930’s are widely regarded as The Golden Age of Travel. It was the time of the Orient Express and the great transatlantic passenger lines. It was also the time the plane became a viable method of transport and it was the time of the Zeppelins.

    In any case, travelling had the taste of adventure. Those days are in the past now, lomg gone. When I think of trains these days, the images I get in my head look nothing like these two:

    A Steam Train as an advertisement for a transatlantic line

    Today, thinking of trains has nothing to do with the Age of Steam, the times of Steampunk and later Dieselpunk, no. As an unfortunate resident in Germany, travelling, or in my case, commuting by train looks something like this:

    Completely overcrowded trains

    Yes, the Deutsche Bahn is completely incapable of tackling winter. But it is not fair, now, is it? Every year around the same time, it suddenly and unexpectedly gets cold and snowy. Every year the same surprise… And who could still run on time and not have trains breaking down under these circumstances anyway?

    Well, JR(ジェイアール), is a good example for several rail companies who manage…

    So, right now I have to struggle with the incompetence of the Bundesbahn in tackling winter conditions, even though they have been around for millions of years before the Deutsche Bahn first appeared. Just this week, I needed two and a half hours to get home, usually it takes 40 minutes.

    You may have guessed, this is the reason why this blog has not been updated that often recently. Due to cancelled trains and the other trains thus being overcrowded and often delayed, I am too stressed out to get a lot of blogging done… And in any case, I rather spend the precious little time that remains of those days with my family.

    So, the Golden Age of Travel has past, now we are in the Age of Abyssmal Commuting, it seems.

  • Tesla Gun and Halitosis

    Commuting to work every morning holds some terrors I have thus far not reckoned with.
    Well, it is the time of the summer holidays in Germany now, so the train is actually quite empty in the morning and I can pretty much sit by myself. However, the people at Deutsche Bahn in their infinite wisdom have only a few days ago started doing stuff on the tracks between Munich and Augsburg. This, of course, leads to massive delays and cancelled trains which in turn leads to overcrowded trains, just as usual.
    After all, where would the Deutsche Bahn be if it would not keep its excellent track record of passenger discomfort?

    So on Thursday the train was cramped again but I was lucky enough to have a seat, more exactly: I thought I was lucky.
    The middle-aged man who sat down opposite me proved to be the incarnation of halitosis in a badly kept suit.
    Really, I wished I would have travelled in full steampunk kit, which in my mind should always include some kind of breathing aperatus, alas, going to work, that’s not an option.
    But I guess if I had put on a gas-mask of sorts, that would have sent a message (and would have gotten me kicked off the train if not even arrested).
    Anyway: Why can’t people simply keep their teeth clean? The stench was not garlic or anything food-related, it was the odorous equivalent of a cry for help by teeth being turned into tooth-zombies.

    On the upside: I was reading a most excellent book at the time which I then also used as an air-block right in front of my nose:

    Where's my Jetpack? - Cover
    Where's my Jetpack?

    Where’s My Jetpack?: A Guide to the Amazing Science Fiction Future that Never Arrived is one excellent piece of info-tainment. Some of you may remember two articles on this blog in which I lamented the fact that the future did not turn out as promised.

    You can find them here and here.

    Where’s My Jetpack? is a book that stirs my soul and shows me there are more people out there wo think just like me… After all, it says on the back: It’s the Twenty-Fist Century and Thing’s are a little disappointing.
    My line of thought exactly. But fear not! According to this excellent little book, there is hope. A lot of the things we were promised in the last 60-odd years are actually real or very neary real, they just have not gotten into common use the way our enthusiastic ancestors envisioned them.
    In all earnesty and honesty: Ray-guns are in development and actually operational to a certain degre, they are just on the larger side. One working briefcase-sized model actually employs laser and an electrical discharged generated via…

    You guessed it! A Tesla-coil! How very excellent and very dieselpunk is that? There are also projects underway for orbital hotels and other amnities. Where’s my Jetpack? is a very inspiering book and mostly optimistic. There are, however, a few things where you cannot help but go „Oh bum…“. Despite what was thought of as being feasable in 30 years sixty years ago, there are a few things which are still too far out of reach and may well never become reality as envisioned in pulp magazines in the olden days.

    Still, I can readily recommend Where’s My Jetpack?: A Guide to the Amazing Science Fiction Future that Never Arrived to everyone who dreams of a more glorious and flamboyant future than what our present has turned out to be. There is hope! Some things are already there, others are just around the corner.
    In any case Where’s my Jetpack? gets 8 out of 10 Zeppelins, the only complaints I have is that it is a bit on the thin side (a few more infos and technologies would have been great) and a few more illustrations would have been in order. Still, a highly entertaining, enlightening and inspiering read!