Why do they come to church?

Today is Pentecost, the day in which Christians celebrate the arrival of the Holy Spirit. In many countries - Germany, for example - even the Monday after Pentecost is a holiday. Sweden got rid of the holiday a few years back, but for the church it does not matter, we can still celebrate.

I drove down to Hörby kyrka for the service this morning - a bright, sunny morning, the trees lovely shades of green and the lilacs so many shades of purple! And with a touch of wind, a perfect day for Pentecost.

Arriving at the church I was rather surprised at the crowd of, shall we say casually dressed young people standing outside. My mother would have never let me out of the house looking like that, and they were actually on their way to church!

The church was surprisingly full (turned out to be a meeting after church with the pastor and the confirmation candidates and their parents). The youth were, of course, giggling and whispering and changing places all the time. But of course, they don't know any better. Their parents were telling each other funny stories and having a good laugh. Getting prepared for the service? No. They were waiting for the show to start. I'm surprised they didn't have popcorn and coke.

One young man sat alone - his skin was a different color than the rest. I don't know if he was adopted or an asylum seeker, but he looked so longingly at the crowd on the other side of the church during the entire service. He wanted desperately to be a part of them, but they just did not notice his presence, and he was too shy to say anything.

There is a new preacher in Hörby, a young man. Maybe he will have a chance to reach these young people, there is hope. He came out to explain how the service would run, explained how the communion would be taken, and then the music for the first hymn resounded from the organ.

The organist began singing the words - and there seemed to be only two people joining in: The pastor and myself. I wondered whether the organist maybe sings a verse first to get people into singing. Nope, they didn't even move their mouths and pretend to sing. Not even the parents sang, although they did, more or less, shut up during the songs.

The liturgy began. The Swedish Lutheran liturgy has very strong Catholic influences and includes many traditional responses (Agnus dei, Sanctus, etc.) all translated into Swedish. Again - the pastor spoke the pastor's part, and the organist and I joined him where the order of service said "Congregation".

The pastor gave a good sermon, quite personal and very open to the young people, speaking freely for a good portion and talking directly from the top of the stairs leading up to the altar.

Then the communion started. He again explained what was going to happen, and started the liturgy, again with no response from the rest of the congregation. As people went up to receive the bread and wine, the youth went first, as they were sitting up front - and carried their hosties dipped in wine back to the pews with them. I wouldn't be surprised if the custodian finds them stuck under the pews with chewing gum...

I returned to my seat after I was served, and observed the line. People laughing, chatting, waving at each other, guys poking at each other. The parents resumed talking with each other and pointing at people while the rest of the congregation was served. At the end of the line a few senior citizens walked down, seriously, prayerfully, amid the noise.

The final hymn had a few more people singing along, it was, after all, a very well-known hymn. Then the youth dashed up to the pastor to get his signature in their confirmation booklets, and they then all went over to the chapel for the meeting. I wouldn't have given any of them a signature, except the dark-skinned boy. But he didn't have a booklet.

I spoke with the organist, she said yes, this is normal, and she doesn't understand it either. They have to come, she said, if they want to be confirmed. But why do they want to be confirmed? Why do the parents want their children confirmed? You can have a party without going through the motions of attending church!

I think the former GDR had this one right. If you wanted to have a party to celebrate the transition from childhood to adulthood, they had the Jugendweihe, which is still very popular, in Berlin at least. They even have lessons in Berlin, and then a nice big ceremony with a chance for a good party (and lots of presents) afterwards.

But why do the Swedes go through the motions? Maybe the odd Swede who might read this blog can explain to me why they bother with confirmation.


Don't Call Back!

We have canceled our telephone here in Sweden, I now have 3G Internet access, and we have mobile phones, no need to spend 400 crowns a quarter just so people can call us. We now have two pre-paid Swedish phones, a Telia and a Tele2, the latter has a great deal for calls to Germany.

We turned on both phones - and the Tele2 has been ringing off the hook. Every few minutes we get a call from +25 21 592 8331. Since Germany is +49, and I was on the Internet, I looked up the international code for 25. There is none. So I took in the next digit, and 252 is a country - Somalia.

Now, I don't know a lot of people in Somalia (I had a student from there once), so I googled a bit. It seems that Somalia has this deal for you to pay for something by calling a number. And some clever people just dial numbers at random, hoping for a call back to their number, which costs around 20$ a minute!

We had 7 calls a few hours ago, then it quieted down, there have been 2 more while I write this.

Where is the "junk" button when you need it? I want my phone to ignore calls from this number, or any number from Somalia.


Shocking pictures on cigarette boxes

The Germans again. They want to be just like the folks over there in Singapur and put shocking pictures of dead people and black lungs and stuff on cigarette boxes in an effort to stop people from smoking.

Meaning that we now not only have to tolerate the smoke when we sit outside (smokers have been banned from indoors, thank goodness), but was also have to LOOK at the pictures, although we don't even smoke!

I prefer the French method - only sell cigarettes in a tobacco shop that has strict opening hours and ENFORCES the age limit. WiseKid was going crazy, they didn't even have smokes at the gas station :)



Yeah. A mystery story in which the detectives are sheep. Written in German, but takes place in Ireland. The sheep solve the case. And, we suppose, live happily ever after.

Don't know why I kept at it. Yes, it was amusing at times to read about how sheep interpret human behavior. I used it to put myself to sleep. Yawn!


The Princesses and French Chocolate

We started the day in Chalons en Champagne, doing a walking tour of the town. Pretty much like every other town we've seen now. We had lunch at a local brasserie, it was okay. Then we headed off to a place north of Reims that had an outdoor go-cart place. It was open, so the men decided to do a round (although at 20 Euros for 12 minutes I thought it was highway robbery, you pay 21 Euros for 3 x 8 minutes in Berlin).

They donned blue jumpsuits and hairnets (!!) and helmets and off they went: WiseKid, WiseMan, and PrincessFather. PrincessMother commented on the testersterone level in the air, and the princesses had an ice cream waiting for the guys to start their motors.

They clapped and squealed each time one of the guys made the rounds. WiseKid lapped his father twice (which put him in a good mood for most of the day), and of course won.

Then we went on back to the chocolate factory. Turns out you can only watch guys stand at machines and make chocolate. Okay. So we got some for dessert. The princesses chose the lambies and snails and doggies. For the adults there were lips, penisses, and breasts. In two sizes and in dark or white chocolate. We passed on that, though, and got truffles and other stuff.

We headed home, dumped the kids with WiseKid, and then headed off down to road to town with the intention of trying a bottle of the local rot-gut. The fancy houses had insisted that their champagne was soooo superior to the tiny houses.

We walked up to Anne-Marie, who was in her garden. She was delighted to have us there, but had no champagne cold, could we come back in an hour? Sure! We continued on to Roger's place. We rang the bell and were about to leave, when we saw a good-looking young man without a shirt run across the lawn with two cold beers in his hand.

In a few moments he appeared - with a shirt - and invited us in. The problem was, he spoke no English and we spoke very, very little French. He opened a bottle, it was quite interesting, very different from what we had been tasting before. We pried out of him that it was a mostly pinot meunier grape that he used. We bought a bottle and left - we couldn't get him to talk. He didn't have a web site, he thought he might have email, but didn't have a card.

As it was too early for Anne-Marie, we went down to the little river to relax (and work off some champagne in the sun). As we got to her place, she was just calling up to the house to tell us that it was cold. Of course, WiseKid had no idea what she wanted. I spoke with him, calmed PrincessMother (who thought the kids had broken something), and we were invited in.

Anne-Marie was charming! It felt like she really liked having us there. She and her two brothers each have their own labels, their dad and granddaddy were wine and then champagne producers. She bubbled over in French and English, and we had a great time. And her champagne was - well - better than Moet, I felt! The second glass had the exact, perfect temperature, and tasted exactly right. So even though we were here by train, we got a six-pack to lug home. I now understand why many people drive to France with empty trunks. The price was about half what you pay in Germany for champagne, and it was Good Stuff!

She offered to drop the bottles off later, so we didn't have to carry them up the hill. So we headed up, and got dinner for the kids, trying a bottle from Anne-Marie's brother, Pierre, that the PrincessParents got while I was getting bread for dinner.

All in all, we had about 7 different champagnes, all different. I could have easily spent another week, trying more. And maybe taking the princesses to the snail museum.

We left early the next morning - I have to get back to university, and they are flying back to the States. It is sad to see them go, we had a wonderful time, even if it was very short. We shall return!

The Princesses in Reims

The theme for today was champagne and kings. We were going to visit the champagne house of Veuve Cliquot and then hit the cathedral of Reims, where a number of French kings were crowned. Princessfather set up the navigation system for the Veuve Cliquot address given in the guidebooks,
and off we went!

WiseKid was of course in our car, and we had some major discussions about the music he was allowed to play on the car radio with the gadget he found on the back seat of the rental car. I actually have one myself, it transmits the iPod tunes on an FM frequency, but I don't have to tell WiseKid about that. But he found the thing, in black not white, and had it figured out in 21 seconds and playing his horrible music in under a minute.

We followed Princessfather to Reims, where it turned out they are in the process of putting in a tram system. Since it is easier to just close off all the streets and do it all at once instead of doing it street by street, the
navigation system was just thoroughly confused. And the champagne place was no longer at the published address, after we finally found it.

So we headed for the cathedral and parked in the garage nearby. I had been looking forward to seeing this cathedral, as I had heard so much about the stained glass windows and the rose window. But in reality, it was just another gothic church with flying buttresses. It had suffered a lot during the world wars, so there was not much in the way of cool stuff on the inside. And the guy manning the souvenier shop refused to speak anything but French. I feel I must praise the Berlin bus drivers - they are going to school and learning enough English to tell tourists where to go. The French can't be bothered to learn any other languages, even if they could sell twice the stuff if the tourists could ask for stuff they want to buy.

A mass was being held (it was Ascension day, after all), but in the back of the church. It was nice to hear the organ playing, but the windows themselves were rather boring. I had recently seen the Cologne cathedral on a business trip, and the cathedral in Aachen, and I found both much grander, much more fascinating by far than Reims.

The princesses liked the ramps outside and enjoyed running up and down them.

We decided to go to the Palais de Tau museum next door. That is where the kings stayed the night before their coronation and then had a little party afterwards. The first few rooms were filled with bits that seemed to
have fallen off the church at different times. Then we had the party room, covered with nice tapestries. Okay.

At the front were the "crown jewels" - a replica. The princesses were enthralled - a crown! They took 17 pictures apiece of the crown, and then we went on to the little chapel where the kings could pray, and saw all the golden stuff the kings were given for their use at communion. Lots of gold.

We went down to the cellars - nothing there, but the princesses found it grand the way their stomping noises echoed throughout the room.

We found a nice place to eat sitting outside. Not the world's best food, but okay, and sitting out was neat. We then headed for Epernay, the champagne capitol, in the hopes of getting a taste. We first stopped at Mercier, and were lucky that the next English-speaking tour was going to be in 5 minutes.

There was a bit of Disney-esque corniness on the elevators going down (they had a glass wall where you could see figures through). Then we got on a train and were pulled through cellar after cellar of champagne. The princesses loved the train ride, and the adults liked the champagne tasting afterwards.
WiseKid, not yet 18 and not able to taste, had a fit of nastiness. Even though I offered him a taste of mine, he wanted his own, and huffed off to the car to pretend he was driving and listening to LOUD music.

We were going to check out a second place, but we got there behind a bus load of Belgians, so we just bought a bottle for tasting and carried on. We tried the chocolate factory, but they were closed on account of the Ascension Day holiday. So we drove home through the rain.

WiseKid bitched about not getting cigarettes, so Princessfather offered to drive to the gas station. Turns out the French don't even sell tobacco products in gas stations, only at tobacconists. Good job, Frenchies!

The adults did a champagne test of our own in the evening after the kids (including WiseKid!) were zonked out in their beds. I do prefer the Mercier to the Castilagne.

We debated what to do tomorrow, something more kid-like. The guide book has a snail museum and donkey riding. Maybe we'll also hit the go-cart place for WiseKid.....

The Princesses in France

We joined the princesses in a wonderful house in the countryside of the Champagne in France. They are now 8, 6, and 4 years old. They had "done" Paris, Eurodisney, Dijon and Epernay before we joined them. They really hit the high points of Paris - Eiffel Tower, bus tour to all the sights, down the Champs Elysee, around the Arc de Triumphe, the Louvre (with an unexpected meeting with the Venus de Milo and an expected viewing of the Mona LIsa), and the bridge the rat got freed on in Ratatoille.

Eurodisney, the Princessfather felt, was quite different from the stateside Disney parks. There, everyone is working to help you suspend your disbelief and have a magical day in the Magic Kingdom. In France, it is just a job and the people don't really want to be there and wish you would go home so they can get home at a decent hour as well.

In Epernay they visited the Moet & Chandon champagne cellars (including a tasting). They have enough bottles to survive 3 years in their cellars, and they sell 10 million bottles a year. That's a lot of bottles in a lot of caves! They were told the story of the looting the soldiers did during the various wars. The chief of the company had sighed: Okay, they are ruining me this year, but they will be customers next year.

Our first adventure together today was shopping. The princesses were parked with a video that started out with a trailer in English, WiseMan lay down for a nap, and the rest trucked off to the Carrefour. When we came back, the girls were well behaved, as behooves a princess, but were sad, since the video player had somehow detected that it was in France and started playing the French version of the movie.

Shopping was hard - so many choices! Special on scallops and shrimp! Fresh veggies galore! More cheeses to choose from than you can count. Strange, though, very little fresh milk. The French seem to like their milk ultrapasturized. Then we hit the champagne section - pretty much the same prices as in Germany, but oooooooh, the selection! We decided on mussels and some meat and veggies to make shish-kebab and some salad stuff and some Moet & Chandon and some cheaper stuff for the second course of champagne.

We set up a table outside, had just begun to eat and had taken our first sip of exquisite champagne in Champagne, when a helicopter churned up the valley. Now what on earth is the probability of that happening? The princesses are very interested in technology, having an engineer as a dad, an
aunt and a grandfather, so everyone dashed out to the street to observe.

It was spraying pesticides. Up and down the hills, back and forth.

So suddenly this delicious food and wine we were enjoying outdoors was not quite so fun. What invisible stuff were we eating along with our food? At least it was not windy, but still.

After dinner we walked down to the village - a dead little village. No bars, no stores left. A church that has no regular services. Just a telephone booth and some notices and a map of the area.

After walking back up we cracked the second bottle of champagne - a bit sweeter, not quite so bubbly, but tasty, just the same.

The princesses asked WiseKid to tell them a bedtime story. They requested that the story include dogs, farts, and burps. He was happy to oblige. I wish I could have been a fly on the wall listening to that story! (Note: it was retold to me with glee the next morning)


Off to see the Princesses!

We are in France for a short visit with the Princesses, who are over in Europe again, this year for visiting France. They have "done" Paris and Eurodisney (thank goodness!) already, we are now meeting up in the Champagne for some, well, champagne and cheese and a few days of catching up.

WiseKid is along, it is his first visit to France. He finds it irritating that people speak French. At least here in Strasbourg, our first stop, they do speak some German and/or English.

We had dinner at a Moroccan restaurant last night. All of the restaurants around a car-free city square had tables and chairs outside. We had a big table together with colleagues of WiseMan (they were here on business for 2 days). The restaurant brought us *piles* of couscous and veggies and tons of meat and good Alsatian white wine and then sweet peppermint tea after dinner. They only wanted 84 Euros for 5 people, we tried to explain to them that we thought they were undercharging us, but we didn't manage to make ourselves understood. So we had a great meal for very little money.

Although it is only a two-star hotel, the mattresses are great and the breakfast was surprisingly good. Who cares if the furniture doesn't really match or the sink is cracked?

We are now off to get a rental car - I've never driven in France before, this will be a challenge!


A Berlin Driver

Walking along a busy street yesterday I heard a car honk loud and long. I looked over (somehow, one thinks that there will be something interesting happening when you hear a loud noise). A fancy Mercedes sportscar had felt itself cut off by the person driving in front who had changed lanes suddenly on account of the lane being blocked. The poor Mercedes had had to brake.

The driver honked and honked. At the next light, the woman driver got out of her car and ran up to the car in front of her, banging on the window and shouting at the poor driver of the preceding car. She ranted and cursed, but got back in her car in time to drive off at the light change - and overtook the "offender" and braked suddenly, to pay him back, so to say.

No matter that she was wrong - the following car is responsible for driving so that they can brake safely at all times. Berliners can get so aggressive when they feel that someone has slighted them.


Grandma's Diamond

I am very lucky that this diamond seems to have some attraction to me.

When my grandmother got re-married at 80-something, her new husband bought her a large diamond ring. "We can't take it with us," he said, "So let's splurge!". He had a nice portrait done of her with the ring prominently displayed.

I was not able to attend her funeral for complicated reasons, and her stuff sort of remained in her house, as my aunt still lived there. When my aunt died, I was there for the funeral, but my Dad had to sort out all the stuff. He had some boxes of stuff for me, that he kept until I could come sort through it.

One thing he had kept was her cloth purse - I opened it up, and next to her comb and hanky was that ring - apparently they had had her wearing the purse for the viewing at the funeral, and taken off the ring before burial.

I tried it on - it was a perfect fit. So I wore it.

Some years later I discovered the stone had fallen off at work - I was distraught, how could I lose it? I retraced my steps of the day, and did remember a faint klonk at one point - and there it was, rolled under the fire extinguisher. I had a jeweler put it back on.

A few weeks ago I was trying to put on a mattress cover and tugging and pulling, I remember the ring getting caught in the matting, but I ignored it. I was all over the place - rode the subway, walked outside, etc. etc. - before I discovered the stone again gone.

I patted down the mattress multiple times, searched ever corner of the room, I even emptied the vacuum bag in case I had vacuumed it up by mistake. No luck.

I was seriously sad for a day - how could I be so careless with Grandma's ring? But life goes on.

Yesterday I put on my black, slinky jacket, and after all sorts of meetings started to teach. I had just started the introduction and shoved my hands deep into the pockets of the jacket. There was something hard there - I pulled it out, and lo and behold: the diamond!

I couldn't really stop, and I didn't want to lose it again, so as I spoke I took out my wallet and put the diamond in the change pocket.

I'm so happy to have it back - I hope that I can find a jeweler to put it back with some kind of cement that holds better. And I vow to take it off when I do work with my hands.


What do I do?

Okay, I admit it, I peeked at my email just after midnight to see if anyone managed to send me an email birthday greeting right at midnight like I got last year. Nope. Oh well. I did get an email and a call today from friends, so that's okay. And my Dad congratulated me on turning a year older than I actually will be ....

But there were four copies of an email from a student: "I just finished my exercise and want to upload it, but the system won't take it, it says that it is too late. What do I do?" All identical.

My answer - the deadline was 23.55 - was "Get done earlier next week. I don't accept late work." I only sent it once, though.

They are supposed to be adults, what is so hard to understand about that?


I like my Tag Cloud

Just did an ego search on 123people. They make a tag cloud about you. I like mine - students are important to me! Of course, this blows my cover, but it was only semi-anonymous anyway....

An Old Tatort

They were showing an old Tatort (German police drama TV format that has been around since 1970) on TV Saturday night called Amoklauf. It was a Manfred Krug one, he's a very refreshingly blunt character who was born in the West but moved to the East as a teenager, only to return to West Berlin at 40 - and they were glad to be rid of such an outspoken person.

Anyway, it takes about 30 seconds to realize that this is a re-run, and it's not just because Krug is suddenly much younger that he was on TV a few weeks ago. But I had some difficulty defining exactly why this was so, but I came up with quite a list:

  • There are no active women on the show, except for wives/girlfriends.
  • Manfred Krug is allowed to smoke on camera.
  • There are only a very few, really old computers to be seen.
  • No one has a mobile phone - and that makes the suspense scenes rather silly. They are in a hotel room, no lights, telephone cut off - and you want to scream, "What, are your batteries dead??? Call the cops!"
  • The hair and the sideburns
  • The ransom money is in DM
  • The furniture in the hotel
Still current are
  • The desks to be found in the police station
  • The paint on the walls
  • The type of car they drive
  • The bad weather in Hamburg


Moving Stuff Around

Now that WiseKid has moved out and I have convinced him to repaint the room, it is fit for habitation. We are now in the process of rearranging the furniture in order to have some use of the room besides a guest room.

The first order of business was to get the big, horrible Schrank out of my office and back to that room - it had been WiseKid's when he was a little boy and got stuck in my office on a room switch on account of being so big and klunky.

I bribed WiseKid with the prospect of a meal and use of the washing machine to come help me move the thing, which weighs a ton. We couldn't get it out the door in one piece, so it had to be dismantled, schlepped over piece by piece, and then reassembled. It took a while, but it worked.

While emptying it WiseKid commented exasperatedly on all the crap of his I have in there: his whirly-bird beanie; the lamp he made for one Martinsfest; some of the costumes I made for him for Fasching throughout the years (I threw out the Darth Vadar mask); his cone from the first day of school; the only wool cap he ever wore (with Bayern München on it). I also found lots of my gloves and scarves that somehow got themselves kicked out of the official winter gear area.

We have all sorts of balls: handballs, of course, but a volleyball, 2 basketballs, a soccer ball, a softball, and an assortment of other littlish balls. No one plays with them, besides the handballs. We out to give them to someone.

Now I have to decide what to do with that delicious space on the wall. Odds are 99 out of 100 that more shelving for books is going up....


Burning Leaves in Berlin

Laurie Anderson was in Berlin this evening with her "Burning Leaves" concert. She is only giving three concerts, Umeå in Sweden, Berlin, and somewhere in Switzerland.

I really like her performances and her storytelling, her experimentation with sound. This was no exception, although she was reusing a good bit of old material. Ya get old, ya forget that ya already used that piece twice.

The stage had a stuffed chair, her synthesizer, her laptop, her violin, and a sea of candles. She was dressed, as always, in black, her hair looked rather normal. Normally, it stands on end. The Ex-Berliner reported in an interview on how she cuts her hair - she goes into a dark closet with her scissors and doesn't come out until it is done.

She even had one piece in German (Hänsel und Gretel, I wonder what she did in Sweden?) Swedish radio reports that she had the audience spellbound, DN lists the old stuff she used, but notes that she had the audience eating out of her hand.

Although I enjoyed the concert, the German audience was *definately* not totally spellbound and eating out of her hand. They showed up late - some very, very late, and I found it irritating that they were let in. They coughed and sneezed like they were coming down with swine flu. And then - at least 20 people left, all at different times, making an entire row stand up to let them out. Okay, it wasn't a concert, and it was in a strange language called English. But spending money for a ticket to an artist you don't know is always a bit iffy, especially in Berlin. I feel they should just suck it up and wait it out.

Laurie Anderson had to come back 3 times for bowing, but did not give any encores. German audiences are greedy, they want an encore so that the have the feeling they got something for free. I suppose they were hoping that her husband, Lou Reed, would come out with her and they sing some old Velvet Underground song together......


The Power of the Press

WiseMan is taking a course this week on the power of the media in Berlin. They are visiting different media - newspaper, TV, radio - and understanding how the media shape how we see the world.

This evening was a visit to the Axel Springer printing plant on the outskirts of Berlin. For some reason, half the course had said they were not coming. I asked if I could tag along, and I could.

I had been there in about 2000, I was teaching a course in the print technology program and followed along with an excursion to the plant. There were lots of very technical questions asked on that visit, this one was more superficial.

But this time we got to watch the paper rolls getting changed. Wow - tip of the hat to technology here! The printing plant goes through about 200 rolls of newsprint a day, each weighing 1.5 tons and holding 16 kilometers of paper. The girl doing the tour said: everyone asks me how many pages of newspaper that is, but I just don't know. Duh, do the math. According to the DIN norm, the newspapers in question are printed in Nordic format, 570 mm × 400 mm. They are printed four-up, so the theoretical number of physical pages (consisting of 4 newspaper pages) would be:

  • 16 km = 16 000 meter = 1 600 000 cm = 16 000 000 mm
  • Divide by width of paper, which is 570 mm, giving 28 070 sheets
  • Times 4 for four-up is 112 280 sheets
  • Times 4 for four printed pages is 449 120 pages.
So even with a bit of garbage, it is churning out 400 000 pages per roll, or about 80 million newspapers printed and distributed every day. Not all of these are read, of course.

Anyway - the roll changer is a piece of mechanical beauty. There are three rolls at a station: one currently feeding the printing tower, one exchanger, and the next one in, ready to be pushed in by an unmanned robot. As the feeder gets down to about 30 cm, an alarm sounds and everything slowly cranks into place. The expiring roll descends, the paper slows down a bit, but doesn't stop. The replacement is raised, and begins to spin, getting faster until it gets up to the same speed. A belt pushes it gently down, and a special strip of tape lets the paper stick onto the expiring roll, which tears off and is swung out of the way. The new roll has taken over, and the left-over paper (now called a stick) is fetched by a robot container called a dog. The waiting roll now gets pushed in and mounted, and is ready to roll into place in another 20 minutes or so.

Just fantastic!

The speed of all the machines - the conveyor belts, the overhead rails carrying off newspaper bits off to intermediate storage or to inserters that can put up to 7 inserts into one main newspaper book or the packagers - all work at breakneck speed. When they foul up (as happened as we were at the inserter station) they have to dig a lot of screwed up paper from the machines before they can restart the process.

The scary thing is that there are almost no people here. Just a few guys making the plates, and a handful of printers fussing with the color on the printing towers. In all, the guide said, they only have 370 people working at the printing plant, most of them in logistics. Everything else is automatic. And still, the guide said that it costs over double the stand price just to produce a newspaper, which is why they have so much advertising. I would be interested in knowing if she is right, it seems strange for the costs to be so high.