Thursday, August 15, 2013

Footprints

Hermann at New Ulm, Minnesota (©Hermann Monument)
There is a 32-foot statue of Hermann the Cheruscan - the Romans called him Arminius - at New Ulm, Minnesota. Hermann's story goes like this:

Hermann a Cheruscan chieftain negotiated an alliance of the Marsi, Bructeri, and Chatti tribes with his own warriors to defend Germania from Roman conquest. In September of 9 AD, Arminius' cunning strategy led to the ambush and defeat of the 17th, 18th, and 19th legions of imperial Rome under the command of Publius Quinctilius Varus. This running battle, fought in the midst of the Teutoburg Forest ended abruptly in the Narrows near the Kalkriese Berg initiating a change in Tiberius Caesar's foreign policy. Although Caesar sent eight more legions to Germania, Arminius and his brave warriors continued their fight for freedom. Increasing casualties and a dwindling treasury during subsequent battles between Arminius and Germanicus Caesar eventually convinced Tiberius to abandon Germania in 17 AD. With no common foe the alliance faltered; inter-tribal strife and jealousy led to Arminius' assassination by his own kinfolk.

Our freedom from the Romans was so definitive that Germany's "Roman" neighbors still hold it against us that we are totally ignorant when it comes to Latin culture.

Hermann's footprint at New Ulm (©Bring me the News)
Coming back to New Ulm, Minnesota. The manager of the City's Convention and Visitors Bureau informed the press that a footprint of Hermann had been located in a basement during a cleanup and that it possibly was cast in Germany. He had put the 4-foot-long footprint on display on the wall outside his office with a note: Deutsche haben mehr Spass. Germans have more fun, just because we have bigger feet?

Later New Ulm's tourism chief admitted that he had the mold cast by a local artist and he added: I felt bad all along. You know, I was an altar boy for six years. I feel very un-altarish. It seems Red Baron's father was right with a remark he made to characterize radiologists: They start as altar boys, later they learn to lie, cheat, commit perjury, and then take X-rays.

Hermann der Cherusker near Detmold (©Wikipedia)
The New Ulm "altar boy" quickly recovered: It's been a fun promotion. We're expecting big reactions at the Octoberfest. Well, he may have gotten "his" idea when he heard about another footprint of Hermann, bigger than the one at New Ulm. It was cast in Germany in 2009, the Varus Year, commemorating the second millennium of the famous battle. The foot is on permanent display at Detmold, the city near the Hermann Memorial in the Teutoburg Forest. Hermann's statue on top measures nearly 27 meters (88 feet) with his footprint corresponding at 2.1 meters (7 feet). Like in New Ulm the foot was sculptured to attract tourists.



Looking for more and other footprints I came across carbon or green footprints. You can calculate your personal ecological footprint using two programs I found on the Internet:

The UK-program gave the following result: I actually need 1.71 planets or use a surface of 3.08 ha (7.6 acres) for my resources broken down into food 26%, home 21%, travel 12%, and stuff 41%. My carbon footprint is 6.1 tons per annum.

The German program resulted in 2.43 earths or 4.37 ha (10.8 acres) for my personal footprint with food amounting to 24%, home 33%, travel 13%, and stuff 30%. It is only little comforting that at 5.1 ha (12.6 acres) the average German citizen has a bigger footprint than me.

I knew that my figure for travel is low for I use my car just for 5000 km (3000 miles) in a year, walk what is accessible on foot, and take the train for longer distances. My apartment is built according to recent standards  and we keep temperatures low in winter. Having already changed my incandescent bulbs starting as early as 1999 to neon (actually mercury) tubes I now switch whenever possible to LEDs. Elisabeth and I eat more fish than meat and for our groceries keep to locally produced fruit and vegetables. On the other hand I like my electronic gear and I am always looking for more speed and efficiency.

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