344 Design

The courtyard of Orientierungsstufe Süd—literally “Orientation Stage South,” a Middle School equivalent—in Rinteln, Germany. The oldest parts of the building date back to 1621, when it was a regional university.

Wait! What happened here? In the first few years following my move to California, I would go back to Germany for the New Year. Each time the jet lag would knock me out. I’m a night owl already, and the nine hour time difference would leave me entirely nocturnal.

I’d often wake up around 6 o’clock in the afternoon. Things are slightly different in the Old Country now, but back in the mid-90s waking up at 6 p.m. still meant that all the stores had just closed. Of course, my mom would make me something delicious to eat, but that didn’t solve the problem of where to score some candy. Which isn’t a euphemism for illicit substances. I’m talking Hanuta, Duplo bars, Kinder Schokolade, or Choco Crossies. (Remember, Germany is ze Land of Chocolate.)

The only place that styed open all night was the local gas station on the other side of the river, past the movie theater. It was a brisk 1.5 km (0.93 miles) walk each way—just enough to get the blood flowing, and to burn off maybe half the calories I was there to gather.

On this particular night, I went on my walk just after a fresh blanket of snow had fallen. Everywhere I looked I saw wide open courtyards covered in a layer of pristine snow. I had to make some marks. Being the company man that I am, I shuffled about in the cold for hours, leaving the 344 logo all over my old hometown.

My hope was that people would be intrigued and properly mystified upon encountering my crop circles the next morning. I could already see the newspaper headline in my head: WHO IS 344? TOWN BRACES FOR ALIEN INVASION! But it was not to be. More snow fell during the night, and by the time the sun came up nothing was left of my attempt at guerilla art beyond these snapshots.


As the night went on I got better at spacing out the numbers. I’m sorry about that stunted 3.
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