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Hanover Expo 2000

September, 2000

September, 2000, HANOVER, Germany - What a perfect combination it was! A Star Trek convention and a World Expo, both in the astonishingly engaging city of Hanover, Germany.

Star Trek is a future-oriented show with a philosophy of responsibility for the environment we inhabit. The Hanover World Expo is an international fair with a strategy not only of displaying today's cutting edge technology together with ecological consciousness, but of planning that consciousness into the urban design of the long-term development of Hanover. And the city of Hanover that I visited this month was at once gracious and raucous, urban and sylvan, traditional and boldly moving into the future. It was a fascinating visit and I had a great time.

The Expo Trek convention was a wonderful extended family reunion. I visited with fans who had become friends over the years from the countless conventions and cruises we had shared. But this Star Trek convention was unique. Creative convention organizers par excellence, Dirk Bartholomae and Gerhard Raible, put this one in a huge revival meeting tent on a rustic campground. They included thought-provoking panel discussion topics new to Star Trek conventions on human rights and religious diversity. The topics seemed particularly pertinent in a Germany that is experiencing a disturbing resurgence of neo-Nazi activities. These panels were the sobering issues part of a wholly uplifting convention. The ovation at the conclusion of the closing ceremony, with sunflower presentations, was overwhelming. The fans "transported" me - with no help needed from Scotty at all.

The Expo, too, was transporting in its own extraordinary way - figuratively as well as literally. What first struck me was its size. It was vast. The guides told me it covered 160 hectares, which meant nothing to me. But I could see from the transport pod that carried me high above the expo grounds that 160 hectares was enormous. From this bird's eye view, I saw buildings in the shape of cones, pyramids, cubes, domes and countless other variations on geometric forms. A few even looked like shuttlecrafts and starships. Some were made of glass, others shone metallically and some had shimmering sheets of water cascading down its skin. They were strikingly futuristic. The guide told me that the theme of the Expo was "Humankind - Nature - Technology: A New World Arising."

All of the pavilions, however, were not avant-garde New World. Some, like those representing Bhutan, Thailand and Nepal, were decidedly traditional. They recreated richly ornate, time-honored temple structures of their respective cultures. Yemen even built a replica of a middle-eastern palace surrounded by a swarming market bazaar. They looked strangely anachronistic, and, to me, rather unexciting.

The most successful pavilions, I thought, were the ones that most imaginatively addressed the use of technology in humankind's relationship to nature. The Japan Pavilion was a spectacular example. It was an immense structure, but at the same time, light, graceful and undulating. The soaring vault-like construction was made entirely of recycled paper. The support structure members were made of paper rolled up tight and hard into rods as strong as bamboo poles. These brown bamboo-like tubes were woven in great arches to shape the multi-story structure. A white, translucent, weather resistant skin made of a combination of paper and plastic covered this construction. The brown bamboo-like poles formed an elegantly lacy pattern outlined by the soft white natural light seeping through the luminous skin. The pavilion was altogether fresh, strikingly contemporary and subtly Japanese in its aesthetics.

The pavilion representing the Netherlands also impressed me. The structure covered only 10 percent of the land. The rest was a vast garden landscape representing the varied flora of Holland. This land use illustrated the Dutch talent for making optimum use of their scarce land reclaimed from the sea. The pavilion itself was a wondrous structure stacked onto six levels, each lush with the elements of nature. I took the elevator to the top and gradually worked my way down either ramps or stairways. The roof level was a body of water with a grassy island in the middle with windmills as an alternative form of energy production. I descended to the next level, which was a theater and exhibition area sheltered from the outside by a curtain wall of water representing rainfall. The next level down was a living forest with real trees imported from Holland. The support structure holding up the upper levels were natural tree trunks. Each descending level artfully displayed the diverse flora of the land and the peoples' interrelationship with nature. The Netherlands Pavilion succeeded wonderfully in presenting virtually every facet of the life of the Dutch people and capturing the theme of the Expo in a limited space.

Limited space is a challenge but so is time. I had only scratched the surface of this gigantic exposition. There were many other tantalizing pavilions I wanted to visit but time was my great limitation. What I did experience, however, was dazzling. I will savor the memory for a lifetime.

I wanted to make time for Hanover itself. The city was a delightful discovery. Among Germans, Hanover has the reputation of being a staid, rather boring municipality. I discovered that to be totally false. The people were warm and gracious. The hospitality of Claudia Wolff and her mother Karin, both natives of Hanover and fans who have become friends, and a host of others like Sussanne, Andreas, Jan, and Filip, was terrific. Their love for Hanover was infectious. I came to love the city as well.

Hanover is most certainly not a staid city. I was introduced to how wildly riotous it can be on a Saturday afternoon. From morning on, I kept hearing an unrelenting, rhythmic drumbeat off in the distance. It seemed to be coming closer to my hotel. I asked the clerk at the reception desk about it. He smiled a cryptically insinuating smile and informed me that it was the Reincarnation Parade held annually in Hanover. It sounded like some religious observance to me. When the parade finally arrived, however, wildly thumping dance music and all, I discovered to my wide-eyed amazement that what I had thought to be a spiritual pageant was, instead, the most outlandish rave parade I had ever seen. Actually, it was the first one I'd ever seen -- mile after unending mile of writhing, swaying bodies - some with very little on - dancing in sheer ecstasy. In fact, more than a few seemed to be on some chemical ecstasy. There were flat bed trucks overflowing with prancing, jiggling bodies. There were double-decker buses crammed with dancing bodies. And the street was a sea of writhing, surging bacchanalia. I'm from Hollywood but Hanover sure showed me a thing or two. One thing for sure - Hanover ain't staid.

And Hanover is urbane. The centerpiece of the city is it's "new" town hall or rathaus built in 1913. The neo-Renaissance building with its high domed cupola looming over the city was damaged badly during the bombing of the Second World War but has been carefully rebuilt. In the great rotunda are four large models of Hanover at different periods in its history. The model of the ruined city in 1945 was a sobering reminder of the madness of war. Andreas and Sussanne took me up to the very top of the building in a unique incline elevator that traverses the curve of the dome. The view from the top was breathtaking. On another morning, Claudia, who works in the city's urban planning department, took me for a walk around the lovely park and pond behind the town hall. She told me that Hanover is a city that loves its parks and gardens and is considered one of the greenest cities in Germany. I agreed. I told her I loved my hotel overlooking a man made lake, Maschsee, with a forested park around it with running, walking and bicycling paths. I jogged around the lake every morning.

Hanover is, as well, a sophisticated modern city. There is a controversial new bank high rise building looming up over the treetops. Some in Hanover are opposed to the glassy new presence on the skyline and others love it. The debate is healthy evidence of the passion the people feel for their city. I think it is a dazzling building and will be an enhancement of the Hanover skyline as well as its streetscape. I'll stay tuned to the debate.

On a trolley ride through the city, I noticed another eye-catching new building under construction. The medium rise office structure was twisted in place with staggered window placements, like a building caught in the middle of a whirlwind. I recognized it instantly as the signature style of Californian architect, Frank Gehry who designed the much-discussed Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain.

I was visually stopped even by some of the trolley stops. They were contemporary art pieces in themselves. One was a fanciful composition of bright yellow and black blocks. Another looked like a sculptural tortoise shell. We rode past the once controversial, now much loved Nana statues - three colorfully whimsical polyester sculptures of rotund dancing female figures - sort of like sculptural rave dancers in the Reincarnation Parade. Taking the trolley through the streets of Hanover was like a trip through an outdoor contemporary art gallery. Hanover is a bold, culturally venturesome city.

It also seems to be a foresighted planner of its urban development. Claudia showed me a model in the lobby of her office building of a new town called Kronsberg being built in concert with the Expo. The residential units built for the staff of Expo will become housing for the Kronsberg community to come. The new public transportation system built for Expo will also be the transit system to support the new town. The structures built for Expo itself will be reused after the exposition as cinemas, academic institutions, and retail and office buildings that will become a part of the Kronsberg job, shopping, education and service sector. Small community green space is either already built or designed into the future residential districts. Rainwater is planned to be captured and recycled to keep the public parks lush and green. The Expo theme of "Humankind - Nature - Technology: A New World Arising" is not just a trendy slogan. It is indeed the driving philosophy of this fascinating city. I know I'll be coming back to Hanover to see how this New World rises in the future.

People Reveal The Weirdest Thing About Themselves

Reddit user Isitjustmedownhere asked: 'Give an example; how weird are you really?'

Let's get one thing straight: no one is normal. We're all weird in our own ways, and that is actually normal.

Of course, that doesn't mean we don't all have that one strange trait or quirk that outweighs all the other weirdness we possess.

For me, it's the fact that I'm almost 30 years old, and I still have an imaginary friend. Her name is Sarah, she has red hair and green eyes, and I strongly believe that, since I lived in India when I created her and there were no actual people with red hair around, she was based on Daphne Blake from Scooby-Doo.

I also didn't know the name Sarah when I created her, so that came later. I know she's not really there, hence the term 'imaginary friend,' but she's kind of always been around. We all have conversations in our heads; mine are with Sarah. She keeps me on task and efficient.

My mom thinks I'm crazy that I still have an imaginary friend, and writing about her like this makes me think I may actually be crazy, but I don't mind. As I said, we're all weird, and we all have that one trait that outweighs all the other weirdness.

Redditors know this all too well and are eager to share their weird traits.

It all started when Redditor Isitjustmedownhere asked:

"Give an example; how weird are you really?"

Monsters Under My Bed

"My bed doesn't touch any wall."

"Edit: I guess i should clarify im not rich."

– Practical_Eye_3600

"Gosh the monsters can get you from any angle then."

– bikergirlr7

"At first I thought this was a flex on how big your bedroom is, but then I realized you're just a psycho 😁"

– zenOFiniquity8

Can You See Why?

"I bought one of those super-powerful fans to dry a basement carpet. Afterwards, I realized that it can point straight up and that it would be amazing to use on myself post-shower. Now I squeegee my body with my hands, step out of the shower and get blasted by a wide jet of room-temp air. I barely use my towel at all. Wife thinks I'm weird."

– KingBooRadley


"In 1990 when I was 8 years old and bored on a field trip, I saw a black Oldsmobile Cutlass driving down the street on a hot day to where you could see that mirage like distortion from the heat on the road. I took a “snapshot” by blinking my eyes and told myself “I wonder how long I can remember this image” ….well."

– AquamarineCheetah

"Even before smartphones, I always take "snapshots" by blinking my eyes hoping I'll remember every detail so I can draw it when I get home. Unfortunately, I may have taken so much snapshots that I can no longer remember every detail I want to draw."

"Makes me think my "memory is full.""

– Reasonable-Pirate902

Same, Same

"I have eaten the same lunch every day for the past 4 years and I'm not bored yet."

– OhhGoood

"How f**king big was this lunch when you started?"

– notmyrealnam3

Not Sure Who Was Weirder

"Had a line cook that worked for us for 6 months never said much. My sous chef once told him with no context, "Baw wit da baw daw bang daw bang diggy diggy." The guy smiled, left, and never came back."

– Frostygrunt


"I pace around my house for hours listening to music imagining that I have done all the things I simply lack the brain capacity to do, or in some really bizarre scenarios, I can really get immersed in these imaginations sometimes I don't know if this is some form of schizophrenia or what."

– RandomSharinganUser

"I do the same exact thing, sometimes for hours. When I was young it would be a ridiculous amount of time and many years later it’s sort of trickled off into almost nothing (almost). It’s weird but I just thought it’s how my brain processes sh*t."

– Kolkeia

If Only

"Even as an adult I still think that if you are in a car that goes over a cliff; and right as you are about to hit the ground if you jump up you can avoid the damage and will land safely. I know I'm wrong. You shut up. I'm not crying."

– ShotCompetition2593

Pet Food

"As a kid I would snack on my dog's Milkbones."

– drummerskillit

"Haha, I have a clear memory of myself doing this as well. I was around 3 y/o. Needless to say no one was supervising me."

– Isitjustmedownhere

"When I was younger, one of my responsibilities was to feed the pet fish every day. Instead, I would hide under the futon in the spare bedroom and eat the fish food."

– -GateKeep-

My Favorite Subject

"I'm autistic and have always had a thing for insects. My neurotypical best friend and I used to hang out at this local bar to talk to girls, back in the late 90s. One time he claimed that my tendency to circle conversations back to insects was hurting my game. The next time we went to that bar (with a few other friends), he turned and said sternly "No talking about bugs. Or space, or statistics or other bullsh*t but mainly no bugs." I felt like he was losing his mind over nothing."

"It was summer, the bar had its windows open. Our group hit it off with a group of young ladies, We were all chatting and having a good time. I was talking to one of these girls, my buddy was behind her facing away from me talking to a few other people."

"A cloudless sulphur flies in and lands on little thing that holds coasters."

"Cue Jordan Peele sweating gif."

"The girl notices my tension, and asks if I am looking at the leaf. "Actually, that's a lepidoptera called..." I looked at the back of my friend's head, he wasn't looking, "I mean a butterfly..." I poked it and it spread its wings the girl says "oh that's a BUG?!" and I still remember my friend turning around slowly to look at me with chastisement. The ONE thing he told me not to do."

"I was 21, and was completely not aware that I already had a rep for being an oddball. It got worse from there."

– Phormicidae

*Teeth Chatter*

"I bite ice cream sometimes."


"That's how I am with popsicles. My wife shudders every single time."


Never Speak Of This

"I put ice in my milk."


"You should keep that kind of thing to yourself. Even when asked."

– We-R-Doomed

"There's some disturbing sh*t in this thread, but this one takes the cake."

– RatonaMuffin

More Than Super Hearing

"I can hear the television while it's on mute."

– Tira13e

"What does it say to you, child?"

– Mama_Skip


"I put mustard on my omelettes."

– Deleted User


– NotCrustOr-filling

Evened Up

"Whenever I say a word and feel like I used a half of my mouth more than the other half, I have to even it out by saying the word again using the other half of my mouth more. If I don't do it correctly, that can go on forever until I feel it's ok."

"I do it silently so I don't creep people out."

– LesPaltaX

"That sounds like a symptom of OCD (I have it myself). Some people with OCD feel like certain actions have to be balanced (like counting or making sure physical movements are even). You should find a therapist who specializes in OCD, because they can help you."

– MoonlightKayla

I totally have the same need for things to be balanced! Guess I'm weird and a little OCD!

Close up face of a woman in bed, staring into the camera
Photo by Jen Theodore

Experiencing death is a fascinating and frightening idea.

Who doesn't want to know what is waiting for us on the other side?

But so many of us want to know and then come back and live a little longer.

It would be so great to be sure there is something else.

But the whole dying part is not that great, so we'll have to rely on other people's accounts.

Redditor AlaskaStiletto wanted to hear from everyone who has returned to life, so they asked:

"Redditors who have 'died' and come back to life, what did you see?"


Happy Good Vibes GIF by Major League SoccerGiphy

"My dad's heart stopped when he had a heart attack and he had to be brought back to life. He kept the paper copy of the heart monitor which shows he flatlined. He said he felt an overwhelming sensation of peace, like nothing he had felt before."



"I had surgical complications in 2010 that caused a great deal of blood loss. As a result, I had extremely low blood pressure and could barely stay awake. I remember feeling like I was surrounded by loved ones who had passed. They were in a circle around me and I knew they were there to guide me onwards. I told them I was not ready to go because my kids needed me and I came back."

"My nurse later said she was afraid she’d find me dead every time she came into the room."

"It took months, and blood transfusions, but I recovered."


Take Me Back

"Overwhelming peace and happiness. A bright airy and floating feeling. I live a very stressful life. Imagine finding out the person you have had a crush on reveals they have the same feelings for you and then you win the lotto later that day - that was the feeling I had."

"I never feared death afterward and am relieved when I hear of people dying after suffering from an illness."



The Light Minnie GIF by (G)I-DLEGiphy

"I had a heart surgery with near-death experience, for me at least (well the possibility that those effects are caused by morphine is also there) I just saw black and nothing else but it was warm and I had such inner peace, its weird as I sometimes still think about it and wish this feeling of being so light and free again."


This is why I hate surgery.

You just never know.



"More of a near-death experience. I was electrocuted. I felt like I was in a deep hole looking straight up in the sky. My life flashed before me. Felt sad for my family, but I had a deep sense of peace."



"Nursing in the ICU, we’ve had people try to die on us many times during the years, some successfully. One guy stood out to me. His heart stopped. We called a code, are working on him, and suddenly he comes to. We hadn’t vented him yet, so he was able to talk, and he started screaming, 'Don’t let them take me, don’t let them take me, they are coming,' he was scared and yelling."

"Then he yelled a little more, as we tried to calm him down, he screamed, 'No, No,' and gestured towards the end of the bed, and died again. We didn’t get him back. It was seriously creepy. We called his son to tell him the news, and the son said basically, 'Good, he was an SOB.'”



"My sister died and said it was extremely peaceful. She said it was very loud like a train station and lots of talking and she was stuck in this area that was like a curtain with lots of beautiful colors (colors that you don’t see in real life according to her) a man told her 'He was sorry, but she had to go back as it wasn’t her time.'"


"I had a really similar experience except I was in an endless garden with flowers that were colors I had never seen before. It was quiet and peaceful and a woman in a dress looked at me, shook her head, and just said 'Not yet.' As I was coming back, it was extremely loud, like everyone in the world was trying to talk all at once. It was all very disorienting but it changed my perspective on life!"


The Fog

"I was in a gray fog with a girl who looked a lot like a young version of my grandmother (who was still alive) but dressed like a pioneer in the 1800s she didn't say anything but kept pulling me towards an opening in the wall. I kept refusing to go because I was so tired."

"I finally got tired of her nagging and went and that's when I came to. I had bled out during a c-section and my heart could not beat without blood. They had to deliver the baby and sew up the bleeders. refill me with blood before they could restart my heart so, like, at least 12 minutes gone."


Through the Walls

"My spouse was dead for a couple of minutes one miserable night. She maintains that she saw nothing, but only heard people talking about her like through a wall. The only thing she remembers for absolute certain was begging an ER nurse that she didn't want to die."

"She's quite alive and well today."


Well let's all be happy to be alive.

It seems to be all we have.

Man's waist line
Santhosh Vaithiyanathan/Unsplash

Trying to lose weight is a struggle understood by many people regardless of size.

The goal of reaching a healthy weight may seem unattainable, but with diet and exercise, it can pay off through persistence and discipline.

Seeing the pounds gradually drop off can also be a great motivator and incentivize people to stay the course.

Those who've achieved their respective weight goals shared their experiences when Redditor apprenti8455 asked:

"People who lost a lot of weight, what surprises you the most now?"

Redditors didn't see these coming.

Shiver Me Timbers

"I’m always cold now!"

– Telrom_1

"I had a coworker lose over 130 pounds five or six years ago. I’ve never seen him without a jacket on since."

– r7ndom

"140 lbs lost here starting just before COVID, I feel like that little old lady that's always cold, damn this top comment was on point lmao."

– mr_remy

Drawing Concern

"I lost 100 pounds over a year and a half but since I’m old(70’s) it seems few people comment on it because (I think) they think I’m wasting away from some terminal illness."

– dee-fondy

"Congrats on the weight loss! It’s honestly a real accomplishment 🙂"

"Working in oncology, I can never comment on someone’s weight loss unless I specifically know it was on purpose, regardless of their age. I think it kind of ruffles feathers at times, but like I don’t want to congratulate someone for having cancer or something. It’s a weird place to be in."

– LizardofDeath

Unleashing Insults

"I remember when I lost the first big chunk of weight (around 50 lbs) it was like it gave some people license to talk sh*t about the 'old' me. Old coworkers, friends, made a lot of not just negative, but harsh comments about what I used to look like. One person I met after the big loss saw a picture of me prior and said, 'Wow, we wouldn’t even be friends!'”

"It wasn’t extremely common, but I was a little alarmed by some of the attention. My weight has been up and down since then, but every time I gain a little it gets me a little down thinking about those things people said."

– alanamablamaspama

Not Everything Goes After Losing Weight

"The loose skin is a bit unexpected."

– KeltarCentauri

"I haven’t experienced it myself, but surgery to remove skin takes a long time to recover. Longer than bariatric surgery and usually isn’t covered by insurance unless you have both."

– KatMagic1977

"It definitely does take a long time to recover. My Dad dropped a little over 200 pounds a few years back and decided to go through with skin removal surgery to deal with the excess. His procedure was extensive, as in he had skin taken from just about every part of his body excluding his head, and he went through hell for weeks in recovery, and he was bedridden for a lot of it."

– Jaew96

These Redditors shared their pleasantly surprising experiences.


"I can buy clothes in any store I want."

– WaySavvyD

"When I lost weight I was dying to go find cute, smaller clothes and I really struggled. As someone who had always been restricted to one or two stores that catered to plus-sized clothing, a full mall of shops with items in my size was daunting. Too many options and not enough knowledge of brands that were good vs cheap. I usually went home pretty frustrated."

– ganache98012

No More Symptoms

"Lost about 80 pounds in the past year and a half, biggest thing that I’ve noticed that I haven’t seen mentioned on here yet is my acid reflux and heartburn are basically gone. I used to be popping tums every couple hours and now they just sit in the medicine cabinet collecting dust."

– colleennicole93

Expanding Capabilities

"I'm all for not judging people by their appearance and I recognise that there are unhealthy, unachievable beauty standards, but one thing that is undeniable is that I can just do stuff now. Just stamina and flexibility alone are worth it, appearance is tertiary at best."

– Ramblonius

People Change Their Tune

"How much nicer people are to you."

"My feet weren't 'wide' they were 'fat.'"

– LiZZygsu

"Have to agree. Lost 220 lbs, people make eye contact and hold open doors and stuff"

"And on the foot thing, I also lost a full shoe size numerically and also wear regular width now 😅"

– awholedamngarden

It's gonna take some getting used to.

Bones Everywhere

"Having bones. Collarbones, wrist bones, knee bones, hip bones, ribs. I have so many bones sticking out everywhere and it’s weird as hell."

– Princess-Pancake-97

"I noticed the shadow of my ribs the other day and it threw me, there’s a whole skeleton in here."

– bekastrange

Knee Pillow

"Right?! And they’re so … pointy! Now I get why people sleep with pillows between their legs - the knee bones laying on top of each other (side sleeper here) is weird and jarring."

– snic2030

"I lost only 40 pounds within the last year or so. I’m struggling to relate to most of these comments as I feel like I just 'slimmed down' rather than dropped a ton. But wow, the pillow between the knees at night. YES! I can relate to this. I think a lot of my weight was in my thighs. I never needed to do this up until recently."

– Strongbad23

More Mobility

"I’ve lost 100 lbs since 2020. It’s a collection of little things that surprise me. For at least 10 years I couldn’t put on socks, or tie my shoes. I couldn’t bend over and pick something up. I couldn’t climb a ladder to fix something. Simple things like that I can do now that fascinate me."

"Edit: Some additional little things are sitting in a chair with arms, sitting in a booth in a restaurant, being able to shop in a normal store AND not needing to buy the biggest size there, being able to easily wipe my butt, and looking down and being able to see my penis."

– dma1965

People making significant changes, whether for mental or physical health, can surely find a newfound perspective on life.

But they can also discover different issues they never saw coming.

That being said, overcoming any challenge in life is laudable, especially if it leads to gaining confidence and ditching insecurities.