As a scientific researcher you are always on the hunt for novelty (and by that I don’t mean gimmicks you can buy in a shop). Often such newness comes from solving old problems by doing some difficult new method à la “it’s never been done before”. Of course, this goes wrong a lot – that’s why research feels hard and often seems to lead nowhere. In many cases not even to a permanent job.
Last post of the year. Szpylbert enjoys messing around with his phone and (more or less accidentally) took this photo. But what is it? An eye staring at you? Or perhaps a flying saucer? Have a guess…
A happy and successful New Year to you all!
Today, a post on one of the stranger ambitions in the modern world: trying to become a youtube star. As we all appreciate, the internet is open to everyone, also to those with a thirst for admiration but no discernible talent. Szpylbert is often amazed by how bad some people are at judging the impression they create of themselves on the internet. And there is some deeper meaning to this. All of us sometimes struggle to reconcile how we think we appear to others with how we are really perceived. It’s one of the more harmless parts of the human condition. But wouldn’t social interactions be terribly safe and boring without this? Szpylbert’s wisdom is: if you notice you’re crap at this sort of thing, just don’t try to become a youtube sensation…
After Ferdinand’s recent success with his promotion to Senior Lab Rat, this time Szpylbert is in luck – winning first prize at a Comic Competition held at his university. The prize is a substantial £5 lunch voucher. Unfortunately, it’s redeemable only on campus – which, due to the quality of the food around here, diminishes its value somewhat. But that’s just your cartoonist being nitpicky… Szpylbert thanks the jury!
Szpylbert has started flying a lot for work over the past few years and is often annoyed by how unpleasant air travel is. Intrusive and badly organised procedures at the airport and unnatural closeness to strangers on the plane. Making things worse, your cartoonist seems to be a magnet for those who struggle with the basics of normal behaviour. Ever sat through an 8 hour flight with a curly-haired teenager you’ve never met before sleeping on your shoulder? But despair not if you’ve got the funds: with an upgrade to business (or at least premium economy…) you are allowed to be a human again.
With the Volkswagen drama unfolding in late 2015, Szpylbert got thinking about the environmental cost of automotive mass mobility. He remembers a feeling he had as as a boy that it’s a bit absurd to travel around in a heavy metal and glass box with a tailpipe emitting nasty exhaust gases. Weirdly, that feeling went away when growing up…
Let Szpylbert tell you about a “customer journey” with German national railway company Deutsche Bahn. Trying to purchase a ticket at Düsseldorf airport, no cash in pocket:
Attempt 1 – credit card plus ticket vending machine. Credit cards not accepted.
Attempt 2 – get cash from station ATM then use vending machine. Unsuccessful, the ATM dispenses only 50 euro notes and the ticket machine doesn’t accept 50 euro notes.
Attempt 3 – go to counter and ask to buy from idly sitting DB service agent. No can do, this particular counter is for information only.
Attempt 4 – get in line at other counter, wait to purchase by cash from grumpy guy. Success. A boiling mad cartoonist barely made it to the train on time.