24 February 2009


So, skiing was fun on Sunday. I only fell on my ass twice, though the first time I torqued my knee a bit, so it bothered me all day. But the custom insoles I got with my own pair of boots made a world of difference in comfort and support. If you've got wonky or gimpy knees, ankles, or hips and want to try skiing, I can't recommend custom insoles highly enough. They're not cheap, but they make an extreme difference in your skiing experience. I pronate pretty severely (that means my ankles bend inward when I put weight down), and the custom arch supports kept them in a good spot. Recommended!

Because I wasn't sure how sore or tired I'd be, I took Monday off work. Good thing, because I didn't get up until 8 am, which is my usual go time. I also discovered, much to my dismay, that the downstairs heat stopped working. So I called the HVAC folks, and they sent a guy around this morning. This means we sat in the living room, huddled under blankets and surrounded by cats, for 2 hours to watch House and Heroes. (They are the only 2 American TV shows I currently follow.) Turned out the thermostat died, so I paid the guy handsomely to replace it. Bleh.

Anyway. Yesterday afternoon, I was looking for ... I forget what exactly, but it had to do with the ghost stations in Cold War-era Berlin. After the Wall was built, several of the train lines went from west through the east to the west, and they didn't stop in the east, so the East Berliners couldn't defect. So a bunch of stations were basically abandoned or had platforms boarded off, and the East German border patrol, Berlin section, watched it to make sure people weren't trying to escape through train tunnels.

So I googled for something, and I found a bunch of cool videos that people had taken in the late 80s, of riding through the U-bahn, of taking the S-bahn across the Wall, that sort of thing. Then I got distracted surfing related videos on YouTube. It was AWESOME. Seriously, I can't express how inordinately happy finding these random old handheld VHS videocamera recordings on the internet made me.

Because I love you all, I share them with you.

This is how Berlin looked the first time I went, in 1997. OK, not quite this run-down, but the division was still visible: crossing the border, late 1980s. For contrast, this response video: The same route in 2007. I love Berlin. Truly.

Here is a video of an east to west wall crossing in 1988. The big building is the Reichstag. Watch as the guard tower passes on the right side of the train.

This one shows a ghost station on the U6 line.

This one,from 4/90, is titled "East/West Berlin contrasts." It's 10 minutes, and at 8', you can watch another ghost station pass-through. They were officially reopened by then, but several were in need of renovation before people could go in.

This is another long video going from east to west, in 1988.

Then when I finally stopped being distracted, I worked on version 2 of my ghost station/trains story, which seems to be working better from a completely different perspective, in a completely different setup. Funny how that works. It might also be the first story I don't spend 7000 words on. We'll see.

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