Life, the Universe and Everything.

(Last changed: 2019-09-27.)

Random thoughts about Life, Work, Science, Technology, Business, and all their intersections.

I am interested in the impact of technology on our life and culture. On How to live a good life in the era of global interconnections, of rapid feedback loops. Of being a small dot in a large system - driven by mechanisms closer to statistical mechanics than to the illusion of an individual having an impact.

I am writing about technology, but at the same time I try to explore how using technology changes my thought processes.

My online places have always been experimental playgrounds - and I hope they will always be!

Nature and Technology

Thumbnail: Making or Breaking

Making or Breaking (2019-06-25)

Red versus Blue, Consulting versus Operating. Random thoughts on time spent in 'infosec' or IT or whatever the correct term is.

Thumbnail: I am a happy dinosaur.

I am a happy dinosaur. (2018-11-18)

Disjointed pieces. At some point in your life your stories should speak for themselves.

Thumbnail: I am learning to pentest!

I am learning to pentest! (2018-08-27)

What I have being up to - in the past quarter: As a long-term defender I wanted to learn a bit about actually hacking something - and I got sucked into the best black-hole ever! Playing and learning - combined in the best possible way!

Thumbnail: Hacking

Hacking (2018-08-05)

Sort of an Away Note – elkement gone hacking: I discovered the pentesting platform hackthebox and spend all my online time there! It’s all new, yet familiar as I feel I have always reverse engineered anything in some sense.

Thumbnail: Infinite Loop: Theory and Practice Revisited.

Infinite Loop: Theory and Practice Revisited. (2018-06-10)

Learning: Physics, computer science, and engineering. Formal education versus hands-on tinkering. I do have the former, but still think my actual education happens via the latter.

Thumbnail: Physicist, walking down the stack

Physicist, walking down the stack (2018-05-02)

One more attempt at describing what I am up to: Physics and IT - revisited.

Thumbnail: Best of 2017

Best of 2017 (2017-12-10)

What did I learn this year? Troubleshooting hydraulics is like debugging software. I really like classical thermodynamics.

Thumbnail: Working Remotely

Working Remotely (2017-12-02)

HTTP(s) (mis-)use connection magic enables me to work in a way I would have never envisaged 25 years ago - at the time when my most important 'files' were still contained in physical folders. I am able to work nearly remote-only, not only in IT projects.

Thumbnail: Computers, Science, and History Thereof

Computers, Science, and History Thereof (2017-09-29)

I am catching up on all things computing and software. Here are a lot of words about three sublime, yet free, online resources. My personal nostalgic time capsules.

Thumbnail: The Future of Small Business?

The Future of Small Business? (2017-07-01)

Starts out gloomy, gets more optimistic in the end. Many small businesses might become ‘hired hands’ of platforms (big vendors), but there is also hope for artisans.

Thumbnail: Subversive? Physics?

Subversive? Physics? (2017-05-07)

Next iteration: What's the purpose of this site? This site has more or less the same article over and over again - perhaps in disguise and interlaced with technical notes.

Thumbnail: Where to Find What?

Where to Find What? (2017-03-18)

A list of lists – our web resources related to the heat pump system. Bonus: Featuring The Chief Engineer's Art!

Thumbnail: My Philosophy!

My Philosophy! (2017-03-05)

Boiling it down to a short list, manifesto-style: On science, web, and business.

Thumbnail: The Stages of Blogging - an Empirical Study

The Stages of Blogging - an Empirical Study (2017-03-04)

What I learned in 5 years of blogging on WordPress. Looking back on mainly the less technical early writing here.

Thumbnail: Same Procedure as Every Autumn: New Data for the Heat Pump System

Same Procedure as Every Autumn: New Data for the Heat Pump System (2016-10-21)

Similar results as last year, minus special research projects but plus a bit of nostalgia – when celebrating the 4th anniversary of starting up the system.

Thumbnail: Self-Sufficiency Poetry

Self-Sufficiency Poetry (2016-07-14)

Primarily a light summer nonsense post. But on the other hand we are actually determined to increase our self-sufficiency in the most general sense, that is: also considering our hobbyist gardening.

Thumbnail: My Philosophy (?)

My Philosophy (?) (2016-05-01)

Pondering on what roles I have had say about my philosophy. Nothing ground-breaking or exciting.

Thumbnail: On the impact of physics on my life

On the impact of physics on my life (2016-03-12)

Some changes and random musings: On my Research Notes (formerly known as blog about anything). In praise of physics: How theoretical physics made me better tech troubleshooter.

Thumbnail: Not much happened in 2015

Not much happened in 2015 (2016-01-12)

The most boring end of year overview.

Thumbnail: Travelling Like Spam Poetry

Travelling Like Spam Poetry (2015-08-01)

How spam poetry actually started - doing it in real-live instead of writing it. In 2005 The Chief Engineer and I visited more than 100 villages whose names started with letter Z. This trip finally became our company's Founding Myth.

Thumbnail: Update on Edible 'Weed'

Update on Edible 'Weed' (2015-06-11)

This is an update to my catalogue of edible wildflowers in our lawn meadow.

Thumbnail: Social Debt (Tech Professional's Anecdotes)

Social Debt (Tech Professional's Anecdotes) (2015-05-25)

As a professional it is hard to avoid them: People who to want to pick your brain and just like to have 5 minutes so you can glance over their problems. For free.

Thumbnail: Life and Work

Life and Work (2015-05-15)

We feel the fresh air of a new category: A new major tag that has infected most of our online content...

Thumbnail: If Only It Would Be Edible ...

If Only It Would Be Edible ... (2015-04-10)

I sincerely enjoy eating wild flowers growing in our garden.

Thumbnail: 2014 in Books

2014 in Books (2015-04-01)

I had once started a first list of books here, stating that what you write about books says more about you than about the books.

Thumbnail: Again: Defining 'Subversion'

Again: Defining 'Subversion' (2015-04-01)

We are flabbergasted as we notice that we tied 'Subversion' to hackneyed clichés from managers' self-help books and Dilbert-style satire.

Thumbnail: Anatomy of a Decision (1)

Anatomy of a Decision (1) (2015-03-27)

Revisiting a post written 3 years ago, which was about a major career and life decision taken 4 years ago: IT security consultant working for large corporations turns consulting engineer planning heat pump systems for private home owners. And embarks on another degree program.

Thumbnail: On Resisting the Bait

On Resisting the Bait (2015-02-05)

I don’t mean click-bait. I mean write-bait. That article that wants you to launch your 2.000 words rhetoric missile, and click the red button: Publish.

Thumbnail: E on Track (Edition 2014 - a Good Year)

E on Track (Edition 2014 - a Good Year) (2014-12-24)

I have come a long way. I celebrate a year devoid of planning, of stress, of expectations. Don't Worry, Be Happy! This was the year of 2014.

Thumbnail: Physics, Science, Engineering, and a Lot of Fun

Physics, Science, Engineering, and a Lot of Fun (2014-12-17)

In overly correct legalese, my job titles according to our business licences are 1) Consulting Engineer in Applied Physics and 2) IT Consultant.

Thumbnail: Being Creative with What Is Available

Being Creative with What Is Available (2014-11-27)

Build something from anything and to use whatever tool is at hand! Refers to anything we ever did or built - in the physics lab, as software developers, on designing the heat pump system.

Thumbnail: Instead of a 'Bio' ...

Instead of a 'Bio' ... (2014-11-08)

... we proudly present ...

Thumbnail: We Should Get Lost Sometimes - Nicholas Carr on Automation and Us

We Should Get Lost Sometimes - Nicholas Carr on Automation and Us (2014-10-10)

Book review of The Glass Cage, by Nicholas Carr.

Thumbnail: Looking Foward to 'The Glass Cage' - Random Ambiguous Thoughts

Looking Foward to 'The Glass Cage' - Random Ambiguous Thoughts (2014-09-23)

Nicholas Carr's new book is going to be released soon. I read such books with questions in mind - this time I try to write them down before I read the book.

Thumbnail: On Learning

On Learning (2014-09-20)

Trying to describe how I learn best - either by trying to solve a problem hands-on, or by wading through so-called hard theory.

Thumbnail: Subversive Newsletter Nr. 5: A Mind-Altering Experience

Subversive Newsletter Nr. 5: A Mind-Altering Experience (2014-07-31)

Nearly 10 years have passed, so The Subversive Element can speak about it in public.

Thumbnail: I Picked the Right Blogging Platform! (Book Review: The Year without Pants)

I Picked the Right Blogging Platform! (Book Review: The Year without Pants) (2014-06-14)

Book review of The Year Without Pants: WordPress.com and the Future of Work by Scott Berkun. Asyncronous, remote collaboration - by enthusiastic geeks. This is my preferred work-style, too, I can relate a lot!

Thumbnail: Career Advice - Borrowing Wise Words from a Sailing Hacker

Career Advice - Borrowing Wise Words from a Sailing Hacker (2014-05-22)

My thoughts on a blog post by security researcher Moxie Marlinspike - I could not agree more.

Thumbnail: Brief Update: Life, the Universe, and Everything

Brief Update: Life, the Universe, and Everything (2014-05-04)

Now you know what this section of the site is good for.

Thumbnail: Gödel, Escher, Bach, and Strange Loops: Nostalgia and Random Thoughts

Gödel, Escher, Bach, and Strange Loops: Nostalgia and Random Thoughts (2014-04-26)

Re: Gödel, Escher, Bach by Douglas Hofstadter. Probably one of the three most influential science books I read as a teenager. Intellectual nostalgia!

Thumbnail: Hacking the Biological Clock

Hacking the Biological Clock (2014-03-29)

What I learned from three pop-sci books about sleep research - and my not-so-balanced opinion about Daylight Savings Time and Early Bird Culture.

Thumbnail: Subversive Work

Subversive Work (2014-02-28)

The Element has tried hard to subvert the Modern World of Work. Not necessarily in a way comprehensible to anybody.

Thumbnail: Impressions of a Career 'in Science'(?!?)

Impressions of a Career 'in Science'(?!?) (2014-01-26)

Reflecting on what I wrote in 1998. For better or for worse - those positions I defended back then did not change a lot.

Thumbnail: Generation X. (I Resist Adding a More Zeitgeisty Header.)

Generation X. (I Resist Adding a More Zeitgeisty Header.) (2014-01-22)

About Generation X by Douglas Coupland. A novel about a generation stuck in a cultural void – quite literally and somewhat voluntarily. My generation, that is.

Thumbnail: In Praise of Textbooks with Tons of Formulas (or: The Joy of Firefighting)

In Praise of Textbooks with Tons of Formulas (or: The Joy of Firefighting) (2014-01-15)

Why I read theoretical physics textbooks in the morning.

Thumbnail: My Reading List

My Reading List (2014-01-07)

An announcement to keep a chronological list of books I read in order to 'find new ways to articulate what is on my subconscious mind' (no less!)

Thumbnail: 2013 in Books

2013 in Books (2014-01-04)

The Elkement has become a curator.

Thumbnail: This Year in Books: Biographies, Science, Essays.

This Year in Books: Biographies, Science, Essays. (2013-12-31)

My pick of favorite books read in 2013. I am hardly capable of reviewing books but I tend to pick books in order to answer a specific question.

Thumbnail: What Entrepreneurs Need to Have

What Entrepreneurs Need to Have (2013-11-09)

My personal entrepreneurial manifesto - inspired by Nassim Taleb and Frank Levinson. Customers are not people who like your idea! Remember the coconuts!

Thumbnail: Fragile Technology? (Confessions of a Luddite Disguised as Tech Enthusiast)

Fragile Technology? (Confessions of a Luddite Disguised as Tech Enthusiast) (2013-10-25)

A review of Nassim Taleb's ideas that struck a chord with me and my ambivalent way to deal with technology.

Thumbnail: On Science Communication

On Science Communication (2013-09-23)

Some anecdotes about my not having become a science popularizer though I probably was nonetheless.

Thumbnail: Science: Explain, Evaluate, Utilize

Science: Explain, Evaluate, Utilize (2013-09-16)

Explaining science and technology is my passion and my mission - as a physicist, engineer and IT expert.

Thumbnail: Technology: Explain, Evaluate, Utilize

Technology: Explain, Evaluate, Utilize (2013-09-14)

My motto is: Building bridges between human beings and technology.

Thumbnail: About Life-Form Elke Stangl

About Life-Form Elke Stangl (2013-09-14)

More self-indulgence...

Thumbnail: Stargate: Succumb to the Power of the Ritual

Stargate: Succumb to the Power of the Ritual (2013-08-29)

That was a bit vain - sorry, could not resist. Happy about having completed my master's degree programme Sustainable Energy Systems.

Thumbnail: Welcome to the Real World!

Welcome to the Real World! (2013-08-14)

Actually an away note from my social media break - but also showing off our tomato plants, attached to the solar collector used as an espalier. I've included brief information on the operations of the collector in winter versus summer (cooling mode)-

Thumbnail: Unplug Myself: First Update

Unplug Myself: First Update (2013-07-16)

Warm-up after a time-out from social media with an haiku-style short Search Term Poem.

Thumbnail: What Is Normal? (My Way of Announcing Blogging Time-Out)

What Is Normal? (My Way of Announcing Blogging Time-Out) (2013-06-20)

An experiment in going offline (for about 1,5 months finally).

Thumbnail: I Want to Be Antifragile and Have Skin in the Game

I Want to Be Antifragile and Have Skin in the Game (2013-06-12)

One of several Nassim-Taleb-inspired posts - blend of book review and random thoughts of mine. Inspired by Antifragile and The Black Swan.

Thumbnail: Theory and Practice of Trying to Combine Physics with Anything

Theory and Practice of Trying to Combine Physics with Anything (2013-06-03)

On methods from physics applied to other fields, sprinkled with autobiographical vignettes.

Thumbnail: Transhumanism and the Extended Self

Transhumanism and the Extended Self (2013-05-31)

This transhuman and extended post has now transcended all other related posts on...

Thumbnail: More Capitalism, Less Zen. Tackling Existential Questions Once More. In Vain?

More Capitalism, Less Zen. Tackling Existential Questions Once More. In Vain? (2013-05-15)

Exactly what you expect from the title: Once more, my take on true calling, follow your bliss, or not.

Thumbnail: So-Called Zen Capitalism and Random Thoughts on Entrepreneurship

So-Called Zen Capitalism and Random Thoughts on Entrepreneurship (2013-05-14)

On Randy Komisar's writings (The Monk and the Riddle: The Art of Creating a Life While Making a Living) and how I can so much relate to avoiding the Deferred Life Plan.

Thumbnail: The Largest Experiment in Applied Game Theory Ever

The Largest Experiment in Applied Game Theory Ever (2013-03-28)

The only time every (as per 2014-04) that blog ventured slightly into politics. I was surprised by my own reaction, so I add it to the 'Life' page.

Thumbnail: Work Hard - Play Hard

Work Hard - Play Hard (2013-03-07)

The new world of work?

Thumbnail: On Addiction: An Announcement

On Addiction: An Announcement (2013-02-05)

A most essential post as this page should feature post that show who I am. As I am curating this link at 00:50, a cup of coffee next to my laptop - this announcement was premature.

Thumbnail: Trading in IT Security for Heat Pumps? Seriously?

Trading in IT Security for Heat Pumps? Seriously? (2013-01-22)

Personal essay on career transitions - PKI and heat pumps.

Thumbnail: Recommended Listening: The Unemployed Philosopher’s Podcast

Recommended Listening: The Unemployed Philosopher’s Podcast (2013-01-02)

In 2012 I have shared some of my memories on career-related decisions and transi...

Thumbnail: 2012: The Year We Make Contact

2012: The Year We Make Contact (2012-12-31)

The end of the year and some some life events are celebrated in a search term poem.

Thumbnail: This Statement Is: For Free

This Statement Is: For Free (2012-12-30)

Discussing why a problem is not a problem for me.

Thumbnail: Subversive Yearly Report

Subversive Yearly Report (2012-12-23)

The Subversive Element is delighted to report on our progress in Elementary Subversion: All web sites that are controlled by The Element have been resurrected and updated in an extremely professional fashion. We do go to great lengths in explaining the details via appropriate communication channels.

Thumbnail: Quote: Narrating Our Life's Events

Quote: Narrating Our Life's Events (2012-12-23)

Thanks Jennifer Ouellette for retweeting: The Secret Lives of Stories: Rewriting...

Thumbnail: Almost There: Celebrating a Special Day

Almost There: Celebrating a Special Day (2012-12-20)

Thinking about what happened this year - and about the long-winded road before (I did not know the one after, yet).

Thumbnail: The Dark Side Was Strong in Me

The Dark Side Was Strong in Me (2012-11-26)

From academia to IT.

Thumbnail: Is My Life a Cliché?

Is My Life a Cliché? (2012-11-18)

It is, and Google proves it.

Thumbnail: Physicist, Philosopher, and Engineer

Physicist, Philosopher, and Engineer (2012-11-12)

A brilliant cartoon - how could I not relate to it.

Thumbnail: Discovering Your Life Being Cliché

Discovering Your Life Being Cliché (2012-11-06)

Better not google your allegedly brilliant original ideas.

Thumbnail: Tech Nostalgia and Indulging in Cliché

Tech Nostalgia and Indulging in Cliché (2012-11-02)

You can turn into your own cliché. In a self-consistent way - absolutely, positively.

Thumbnail: Science and Me. Torture Turning Trivia.

Science and Me. Torture Turning Trivia. (2012-11-02)

I am flooding the whole world wide web with my musings on science - but it seems a point of equilibrium has been reached.

Thumbnail: Knowledge Worker's Daily Subversion

Knowledge Worker's Daily Subversion (2012-10-27)

I have returned to where I started from. This website closes on itself.

Thumbnail: Profile of Elke Stangl, one more attempt

Profile of Elke Stangl, one more attempt (2012-10-20)

If that would be web 2.0, I'd call this my profile

Thumbnail: Physics on the Fringe

Physics on the Fringe (2012-10-18)

and other books on 'outsider science'

Thumbnail: Burn the Org Chart - if Not the Organization - Down to the Ground

Burn the Org Chart - if Not the Organization - Down to the Ground (2012-10-14)

If there was ever a geeky manifesto - then this. Re-reading The Cluetrain Manifesto. Remembering periods in my life that were funny in a way not expected

Thumbnail: Reconcile All This (Goals of This Blog)

Reconcile All This (Goals of This Blog) (2012-09-30)

Should probably have been: Goal of My Life.

Thumbnail: About My Graduation Speech

About My Graduation Speech (2012-09-27)

Not a translation of the German speech given on October 8, 1996 - rather some musings in retrospect.

Thumbnail: I Did Normal Science

I Did Normal Science (2012-09-21)

Not a problem unless you have somewhat unrealistic expectations of the paradigm-shifting work you are going to do. Re: The Structure of Scientific Revolutions: 50th Anniversary Edition by Thomas Kuhn.

Thumbnail: Hansoms and Wires

Hansoms and Wires (2012-06-17)

Re: Sherlock Holmes novels - and why the Victorian life-style described therein feels familiar to the digital native.

Thumbnail: Anatomy of a Decision (2)

Anatomy of a Decision (2) (2012-05-24)

How to take (job-related) decisions? I think I used a mixture of intuition and the pro's-and-con's-sheet approach.

Thumbnail: Offline

Offline (2012-04-29)

Just what the title says.

Thumbnail: Stupid Questions and So-Called Intuition

Stupid Questions and So-Called Intuition (2012-04-29)

On many things physics, but also explaining (sort of) why I enjoy re-learning physics.

Thumbnail: Anatomy of a Decision (1)

Anatomy of a Decision (1) (2012-04-11)

Re-considering career paths.

Thumbnail: Shallow Waters and Deep Reading

Shallow Waters and Deep Reading (2012-04-05)

Re-considering my online and offline reading habits. Re: The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains by Nicholas Carr

Thumbnail: I neither Met Newton nor Einstein

I neither Met Newton nor Einstein (2012-03-28)

How I remember academia.. Re: The Trouble with Physics by Lee Smolin.

Thumbnail: About elkement

About elkement (2012-03-24)

elkement is an amalgam of my first name and The Subversive Element. This blog is mainly about physics, energy engineering, software related to these two, ...

Thumbnail: Why Do You Want to Become an Engineer?

Why Do You Want to Become an Engineer? (2012-03-24)

Explaining why this is one of my favorite cartoons.

Thumbnail: The Magic of Deadlines and Numbers

The Magic of Deadlines and Numbers (2011-04-07)

This is not about numerology.

Thumbnail: I am an Expert.

I am an Expert. (2011-03-22)

I am the total antithesis of a dilettante and an amateur. Ha!

Thumbnail: In Need of a Deflector (for Requests)

In Need of a Deflector (for Requests) (2011-03-20)

Years ago (see older articles) I thought that I had the same problem as reported by many freelancers.

Thumbnail: About to Change (Though Unaware of This)

About to Change (Though Unaware of This) (2011-01-07)

On reviewing your one history you are always biased and tend to rewrite it silently. Thus I am keeping the old versions of my web pages and force myself to re-read, comment and gradually change them.

Thumbnail: A Nerd's Awakening to the Existence of the Matrix AKA Corporate World

A Nerd's Awakening to the Existence of the Matrix AKA Corporate World (2011-01-03)

Some years ago I would have described myself as a nerd, geek and tech freak. I like Dilbert-style humor, worked at strange hours and found some aspect of Star Trek like adventures.

Thumbnail: Knowledge for the Sake of Knowledge

Knowledge for the Sake of Knowledge (2011-01-02)

I have always wondered why my English articles about science, career (and the universe and everything) have a different tone than my German ones.

Thumbnail: Profession Or True Calling? Reasonable Questions or Musings Just Uncalled-For?

Profession Or True Calling? Reasonable Questions or Musings Just Uncalled-For? (2008-03-17)

Trying to refute the ancient, nostalgic German articles on science and me, by playing the cool and sober professional.

Thumbnail: What is the purpose of this site? (Re: subversiv.at)

What is the purpose of this site? (Re: subversiv.at) (2005-06-10)

Based on my scientific, extremely thorough logfile analysis this is the main exit page of subversiv.at So I hope you enjoyed flying with us! The element has finally managed to really put you off!

Thumbnail: Some Questions to the modern Networker

Some Questions to the modern Networker (2005-04-12)

Do you know somebody who could help me with...

Thumbnail: The Subversive Element

The Subversive Element (2004-10-15)

Fundamental questions.

Thumbnail: Instead of a CV

Instead of a CV (2003-09-08)

I am physicist and IT consultant, with experience in R and D (as a researcher and as IT services manager) and as an IT consultant, delivering security projects to customers in various industry sectors.

Thumbnail: Favorite Books

Favorite Books (2003-01-01)

The list reveals more about me than about the books.