In my free time, I bicycle around the countryside, go swimming, read books (lots of books) on any conceivable topic, hang out with my gaming group, catch up with news on the latest technological and social developments, and otherwise speculate on how the future of our civilization will develop (on which I tend to be far more optimistic than most). Some time ago I also decided to get more involved with politics and joined the German Green party (not to be confused with the American Green party - actually having to shoulder political responsibility from time to time has made them a lot more realistic and pragmatic...).
I have taken up digital painting as a hobby, and I am actually getting fairly decent as of late. I am now willing to take requests for portraits from other OKCupid users, and I will post them on my Journal when I am finished. You can see my latest efforts there - or you can view the most recent at my Portrait Gallery.
I also joined Google+ - you can find my local profile here.
Despite all the problems of our world - the wars, the strife, the pollution and the ignorance and the hatred out there - we do live in a world of miracles and wonders. Every time I turn my head it seems as if some new field of human knowledge and technology celebrates a breakthrough. Every day I read and learn more about the collective achievements of humanity, and I can only stare in amazement. Everything is changing so fast that there can be little doubt that we are at the dawn of a new age, and though it might fall short of the technological Singularity some futurists predict, a new wave is coming that will transform human civilization utterly - with what result, no one can guess right now.
But I do intend to ride that wave.
A very small selection of my favorite books includes:
- The Discworld series by Terry Pratchett for the usual reasons.
- The Neverending Story by Michael Ende - Ende showed long before Rowling that just because a book is written for children, it doesn't have to insult the intelligence of adults (though the movie adoptions were a huge disappointment for me).
- Zodiac, Snow Crash, Diamond Age, and Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson - the guy writes intelligently and funnily!
- The Zombie Survival Guide and World War Z by Max Brooks. I don't normally watch any zombie movies, but these books have just the right amount of deadpan humor and social commentary to be very, very enjoyable.
- The collected works of H. P. Lovecraft. Yes, the guy was racist but his stories about the Cthulhu Mythos are still enjoyable nonetheless...
- I recently discovered the Vorkosigan Saga by Lois McMaster Bujold, which I strongly recommend to any fan of science fiction.
- Jared Diamond's "Collapse - How Societies choose to Succeed or Fail". It shows that past societies have made huge environmental mistakes that lead to their collapse as well - but that this is not inevitable. His "Guns, Germs, and Steel" also makes for an impressive argument just why the Americas were so easily conquered by Europeans, and why Africa has had a hard time developing advanced city-based civilizations without invoking cultural differences, but merely basing it on the available natural resources.
- Carl Sagan's "Cosmos" was what initially inspired me to study physics. His "Demon-Haunted World" is highly recommended as well, since it shows the many ways that superstition holds us all back even today.
- David Rothkopf's "Superclass" - a look a the 6,000 or so most powerful people in the world, how they live, how they make decisions, and what they have in common. The author manages to maintain his critical distance to most of these people without becoming polemic, and also is able to show why these people act the way they do without suggesting greed or malice at every turn. Highly recommended to anyone who wants to know how the decision makers of the world operate.
- "Wired for War" by P. W. Singer - more than "just" a look at robots in warfare, it is an in-depth look at all facets of the coming robot revolution.
b) Because I spend so much time reading, I have little time to spend on movies and television shows. That being said, my favorites include Ghostbusters, Batman Begins and The Dark Knight. I am also a fan of the Babylon 5 series, Blackadder, the Simpsons, and Futurama.
c) Usually modern orchestral music and other music where the vocals fade into the background. I listen to music mainly to relax, and I prefer types of music that can be played at low volumes and still sound good.
d) Being German, I should probably mention bread here. Good bread - not the kind of flavorless stuff usually found in the Anglo-Saxon world. These days, I make my own out of self-defense.
- Internet access. My constant craving for knowledge and information is not restricted to the printed word - there is a lot to learn and discover out there, and my only regret is that life is too short to learn everything.
- Intelligent Conversation: It's an old truism that it isn't just important what you know, but also who you know. But too many people assume that the latter is primarily important for knowing who can do you some favors. In my opinion, the truly important advantage to knowing the "right people" is that they can stimulate your mind and give you plenty of new ideas - just as you can hopefully stimulate theirs.
- Some device to read electronic books on, whether that's the Amazon Kindle or my tablet.
- Pen & Paper role-playing games: When work and life are stressing you out, you need to blow off some steam. My release are role-playing games, and slaying monsters on the gaming table helps me get rid of any inner demons accumulating from stress at other times.
- The sixth item on this list is left intentionally blank. Feel free to mail me if you want to apply for this position. ;)
Apart from that, I am always looking for activity partners, friends, and penpals from around the world, so there don't need to be any high expectations for contacting me.
Note: As of December 8th 2016, I still live in Kassel, Germany - but it looks like I will start working in Vienna in January, and therefore I want to meet people from the area. Any advice for a newcomer to the city are greatly appreciated!