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Blog 2012

… WORK IN PROGRESS…

31 May 2012
Lactose intolerance is so en vogue these days – one is almost embarrassed not to suffer from it.

30 May 2012
In 2010 the Unesco stated that around 759 million adults are illiterate – which is around 16% of the world’s adult population. This correlates nicely with one’s day to day experience says I, not the Unesco.

29 May 2012
“If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.” – Henry Ford (1863-1947)

26 May 2012
Apron print: Drink coffee, do stupid things faster with more energy!

24 May 2012
T-Shirt print: A life well wasted.
T-Shirt print: The fun starts when the sun sets.
Bag-print: My other bag is Channel

23 May 2012
As there was a comment the other day that this blog could bring the occasional bit on fashion I thought I wanted to share this article here. It is about the queen and asks as to whether or not she has influenced fashion. And well, read for yourselves but I like the statement at the end: “She always looks like the Queen. We’d be very disappointed if she ever did anything different.”
Received comment: It is difficult for us humble support staff to relate to Queenly fashion!

22 May 2012
Quote of the day: Why should a basic Internet connection offer a connection to the Internet?

21 May 2012
From the series of eloquent excuses: Once again, I am sorry that my earlier inattentiveness has led to this embarrassing situation.
Received comment: I enjoy the blog. It may need more regular fashion features and advices to prospective PAs.

19 May 2012
Champion’s league in Munich versus Life Ball in Vienna, cities can be very different.

18 May 2012
The modern man of the world seems to say: Don’t look a gift Koran in the sura.

16 May 2012
From the series of entertaining out of office messages: I’m in a light flue and staying at home on 16 May.

14 May 2012
There is a firm who finally does not offer solutions but problems! “Are you happy? Do you live a contented, carefree life? How boring this can be! What you lack are contrasts. You decidedly need problems to solve. You’ll see – it works!” The firm also quotes Arthur Schopenhauer who has allegedly said: The biggest enemy of happiness is – apart from pain – boredom.“
For three trivial problems I would have needed to pay 3 USD via PayPal. One difficult one would have been 500 USD. I hope you all understand that although this is a non-for-profit blog we cannot get involved in losses for trivial or more sophisticated problems just for the sake of having some problems! There is an opportunity to give people problems as presents. I assume that is what some people had in mind earlier, so thank you all!

13 May 2012
Passing through Munich’s airport quite a bit these days I happened to come across something really new called Napcabs. Napcabs are sleeping cabins which are advertised with the questions: “Tired? Privacy desired? Work to do? – Enter the next level of comfort inside airport terminals… the napcab cabins provide a private hideaway from airport hectic and noise.” They are located at: Munich Airport, Terminal 2, Level 4, Gate G06 and at Terminal 2, Level 5, Gate H32.

12 May 2012
In 2008, new research suggested that people with blue eyes have a single common ancestor. Scientists tracked down a genetic mutation that leads to blue eyes. “Originally, we all had brown eyes,” said Eiberg. Practically the reason for blue eyes is a gene deficiency. The iris looks blue due to a lack of melanin which would otherwise turn it brown. Grey and green are just variants of the same problem.

11 May 2012
If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough. Albert Einstein

9 May 2012
Billboards all over Berlin read: When was the last time you did something for the first time?

8 May 2012
Note to self: Do not pocket loose mint chocolate, sit on it and expect the content of your pocket (such as your mobile phone) to smell neutral.

7 May 2012
Most things we consider forms of the truth are personal opinions emitted from local perspectives.
Received comment: Increasingly literary blog!

6 May 2012
On the pursuit of happiness: Happiness is not just the absence of misery. – Nancy Etcoff

5 May 2012
We can do without reality when it feels like the present. – Alexander Kluge

4 May 2012
A story in the newspaper talks about four components (in this particular case: of a game) that make dependent: the simplicity, the reward structure, the humor and the physical realism. I guess to a certain extent that can be generalized.

3 May 2012
It is not only possible to live in parallel worlds but also in different climate zones simultaneously. I sometimes wonder that when others sport just sleeveless shirts I still tend to feel fairly warm and cozy in a dustcoat and ponder only hypothetically dropping the scarf.

2 May 2012
At the long night of research at the universities of Graz last week one thing really struck me: The brain is the largest construction site in every human being. It uses 20% of the total energy and 50% of the total blood sugar. It’s a very sweet thing if you think about it. The latest findings of brain research have shown that the mere imagination of a motion, the idea of a motion as such if you wish, anticipates said motion in terms of brain processes, contra lateral, mind you. In my view a wrongly imagined movement can therefore lead to contra lateral damage if you’re not careful.

1 May 2012
Some people are under guardianship earlier than they themselves ever expected. In the past incapacitation required sufficient reasons such as mental illness, mental deficiency, alcoholism, drug addiction or extravagance. In many cases today even uttering their own will suffices suffices for some to face severe consequences but indeed as we know: free will is completely overrated.

30 April 2012
Coming back to “tertium non datur” and thus to the widespread phenomenon of the lack of determination. And I do not want to imply that excluding a third option on a logical layer is equivalent to the character flaw of indecisiveness but often this flaw leads to a situation that was hitherto unthinkable and would have stayed unthinkable had only firm, targeted, timely action prevailed. Giving in to stability at a lower level possibly grants a short-term respite but most probably no real long-term alternative.

29 April 2012
Are the famous three words in our technophile world today really “route recalculation ongoing”? Received comment: Sign of a life being lived? There are journeys we do on automatic. Stopping, starting, turning and then realising we cannot really remember the last hour. Then there are times we have to stop and think about where we are and where we really want to be and how we might get there. Not sure it all works that way. As Steve Jobs said: it is easier to join up the dots looking back. But for a moment that “route recalculation ongoing” suggests control. Even if round the next corner something unexpected and magical will happen. So “life evaluation ongoing” is better?

28 April 2012
For 1.615.000 airline miles you get a designer garden shed in the Lufthansa world shop. If one expects to receive an average of 150-750 airline miles for a one way flight within Europe, one just needs to accumulate about 5.400 return trips within Europe to earn enough miles for the garden hut. Do frequent flyers dream of home, sweet home, in other words of an idyllic small garden, an automatic lawn mower and ultimately a designer garden shed? Just as traditional garden shed owners dream of being up in the air on the way to new horizons? In the 40ies Lilian Harvey sang already: Somewhere in the world there must be a tiny little bit of happiness. I dream of it at every single moment and if only knew where that was, I’d go out into the world in search for it…

27 April 2012
As stated earlier, the blog entry from April 5 on the total control app has resulted in quite some discussion and remarks such as the following: “A good friend of mine has met a fascinating woman some time ago. At the first dinner she implemented – which went totally unnoticed by him – an app allowing her central control. First, he noticed some physical symptoms, like a blissful continuous smile and the feeling of butterflies fluttering in and around the solar plexus. After that the applet has gradually taken over his central nervous system. It has periodically pushed to the forefront and has always kept the thought of her awake, day and night. In particular when his attention was actually to be given to other females the app demanded its toll vehemently. Amazingly, it has turned down any defense mechanism in a very clever way, so that the app is now leaving him completely helpless, and connects even this fact with pleasant sensations. The applet tells him the wishes of the owner in a very subtle way, so he has a serious chance to react ahead of things in order please. He seeks regular personal meetings, but without letting giving any suspicion of stalking. Such an effective remote control of a man cannot be thought of in a smartphone app. Admittedly, this control requires a fairly broad compatibility of hardware and software that works certainly not for every woman and every man, however, cases are known where such compatibility has been successfully simulated despite some proven negative effects on physical and mental integrity of the man. Such aps are probably to be called Trojan Applets. I am however convinced that in the case of my friend this particular variety has not been used.” Received comment: Scary blog, Dr. Brandl!

26 April 2012
Margit Kuchler-D’Aiello read from her second book “Ein Mundwerk für Nellja” this evening. First press reactions here (German only).

25 April 2012
At times I get invited to interesting events and sometimes they are rather special. Such as “Lunch & Learn session on: The Perfect Elevator Pitch” or “Wills: Something you have to do before you die”. On my way from Brussels to Austria I am on short flight between Vienna and Graz. In a low, mostly inaudible voice the pilot tells us something about the “lovely, charming crew” and so on and so forth. All of a sudden he seems to change the subject and says: “And I wish you all the best for your future. Please enjoy your last flight to Graz!”. I see eyebrows rising and turn to my neighbor asking him about the relative chances of an Austrian Airlines pilot committing suicide while on duty. He replies in a very strong Tyrolean accent: It is just because of Yvonne, the stewardess. She has her last day today and he wishes her well.

24 April 2012
This blog’s entry of April 5 (total control apps) has resulted in quite some reactions worthwhile quoting: “And am still waiting for the Total Control App. – It is already inbuilt and fully configured my dear. – I fear you are right. Free will is obviously overrated.”

23 April 2012
Sometimes life is just about developing a will to want.

22 April 2012
Theme of an Italian restaurant: Tempus fugit, Eros manet.

21 April 2012
Gunkl’s wise words: “Not only it is not never too late, often, this is sooner the case than you think” and “Discuss with a physicist and an esoteric, if time went into the other direction, whether there is a chance to find out that this is the case.”

20 April 2012
All good things come in threes. It would appear: all bad things, too. My stereo died, followed by my beloved espresso machine and my watch. So no music, no coffee, no time. I hope that in due course, at the appropriate juncture, in the fullness of time there will be music again and coffee. I’d even hope for cold coffee. Received comment: The real tragedy, of course, is the coffee machine… Your phone can tell you the time, even if it is a Nokia phone, and your computer can play music. But coffee… now missing that is going to hurt. You have my deepest sympathy.

19 April 2012
T-Shirt print, spotted in Berlin: Where exactly is that prince with his crap horse?

18 April 2012
Hundreds of years from now, it will not matter what my bank account was, the sort of house I lived in, or the kind of car I drove… But the world may be different because I did something so bafflingly crazy that my ruins become a tourist attraction.

17 April 2012
Hope may not be warranted at this point.

16 April 2012
Simplification does not always equal fairness. 15 April 2012 There are people who lack even the courage to be cowardly. “- M. Markus Ronner

14 April 2012
Barry Schwartz tells us: “Choice has negative effects. Paradoxically it produces paralysis rather than liberation. With many options to choose from people find it very difficult to choose at all. Even if we manage to overcome the paralysis, we end up being less satisfied with the result than had we got fewer choices. The more options there are, the easier it is to regret the choice you made.” And on expectations: “Everything was better back when everything was worse. When everything was worse it was possible to have a pleasant surprise… The secret to happiness is low expectations!” Easier said than done.

13 April 2012
“Character is the ability to stand in one’s own way.” – Markus M. Ronner

12 April 2012
The German words for „wiping“ and „mixing“ sound very similar to „vision“ and „mission“ and so often English meetings with German participants discussing their visions and missions rather sound like cleaners sorting out how to fix themselves the next drink.

11 April 2012
I enjoy contradictions and well put offenses. A good one (by a landlord on – allegedly horrible – tiles in a flat ready to be rented out): At the time they were timeless. And as always a classic by Yogi Berra: It’s like déjà vu all over again.

10 April 2012
Allegedly they say about the Austrians that they are either doubtful or desperate. At times perhaps both at the same time I reckon.

9 April 2012
A graffiti wall in Hamburg reads: No government is like no government. I say no communication is like no communication. Not to communicate even if one had the chance to is unfairness. Silence can be both a demonstration of ultimate power and abuse of just that power. In other words it is about the respect one can expect. Not to tell and not to make understand what is the case and why something is the case at all and why said case is like it looks like is the worst of all.

8 April 2012
Wikipedia tells us that “the process of creating a shrunken head begins with removing the skull from the head. An incision is made on the back of the neck and all the skin and flesh is removed from the cranium. Red seeds are placed underneath the eyelids and the eyelids are sewn shut. The mouth is held together with three palm pins. Fat from the flesh of the head is removed. It is here that a wooden ball is placed in order to keep form. The flesh is then boiled in water that has been stuffed with a number of herbs containing tannins. It is then dried with hot rocks and sand, while molding it to retain its human feature. The skin is then rubbed down with charcoal ash. Decorative beads are added to the head.”

7 April 2012
„He who does not strive forward is not serious about himself.” – Johann Kaspar Lavater “Proceed forward tirelessly, Never stand wearily, If you want to see completion and perfection.” – Friedrich Schiller Both is written on the walls of the so called “forward house” in Bremen.

6 April 2012
It is not entirely logic to take a train from Munich to Vienna in order to fly to Hamburg even if you can go to an exhibition there upon stopping over. But the famous Anonymous already said: If you want to breakfast in bed, sleep in the kitchen.

5 April 2012
It is high season for stalkers. So it is good to know there are appropriate corresponding apps out there. There are plenty of employment opportunities as well. Appropriate control measures such as existing ones for women can surely be extended to the previously little explored field of controlling men online. “Total Control” could be an easy-to-remember name for an app. And since privacy is not anymore a core value of our society there’s definitely big potential. From a legal point of view it is vital to make the to-be-tracked men opt into the service.

4 April 2012
A report I read the other day says “if incentives don’t work, it is command and control that works best”.

3 April 2012
Interestingly enough the Wonderful Wizard of Oz just features a Scarecrow who wants to get a brain, a Tin Woodman who wants a heart and a Cowardly Lion who lacks courage. So the story lacks a spineless man but one could assume the Cowardly Lion also plays that part. In the Musical Film he is singing: Yeah, it’s sad, believe me, Missy, When you’re born to be a sissy, Without the vim and verve. But I could show my prowess, Be a lion, not a “mowess”, If I only had the nerve.

2 April 2012
Chris Mulzer (and no, I’m not a fan of NLP but think what he has to say on this particular subject is absolutely true) writes on his website: “There are two ways in my experience, to take bad decisions and consequently to fail achieving the desired results. The first option is the “non-starter” decision strategy, which includes all those processes necessary to delay the decision, or to make it impossible. The second way is to take a decision, but choose actions that can simply not produce the desired result.” He also says in another post: “In my world, self-discipline is always necessary when you’ve taken decisions and you want to take all required steps to implement the decision accordingly. In that case repetitive actions are often necessary.”

1 April 2012
Baseball player Yogi Berra is known for his iconic Yogiisms. Interestingly enough he has never thought about giving up when you are more than halfway there. What he did say though was: It ain’t over till it’s over. Reportedly he also stated, “If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll wind up somewhere else.” Or: “The future ain’t what it used to be.“ And another one: “Never answer an anonymous letter.” Speaking of anonymous calls and letters: there are nicer ways to say it’s April’s fool day.

31 March 2012
On flirting (what to do and – like in this particularly unsuccessful case – what not to do): The situation: A man in a drugstore asks the girl at the cash desk: Are you from Arabia? The girl: No, from Turkey. The man: Seems they even got some pretty girls there, too. The girl mimics a halfhearted smile. He continues: I am from Germany and I am about to buy a deodorant! The cashier and I seem to think the same thing at the same time: That’s about the only option you have got at this very moment.

30 March 2012
Last week at about the time I write this blog I went past a bar called “Kiss That Frog Again.” And it was right next to a place that wanted to be known for Pig Love (The Pig and Fiddle Bar).

29 March 2012
I wish there were more people that could say the same as André Heller: “I alone bear full responsibility for myself. Whether I will turn 75, 85 or 95 years old, I venture to say even now, I did not did not truant my life.”

28 March 2012
Wikipedia tells us – at least in their German pages – that “In psychology, the concept of parallel world is sometimes used to describe behaviors of escapism. This allows people to live out the fantasy with unattainable desires, wishes or needs or imaginary supplant intolerable situations by creating parallel worlds or the “replacement reality”. In the parallel world of the imagination one takes over virtual, desired roles, communicates with people that live there and creates an environment in which the real obstacles to one’s desires are no longer there. This – so we are further told – is normal up to a certain extent, helps balancing stress and can even be helpful for mental relaxation and regeneration – just as dreaming can be viewed as a parallel world. In the course of personality disorders fantasy worlds can become problematic especially when these worlds are more important than the actual reality”.

27 March 2012 A recent study we chocoholics have all been waiting for for years says that eating lots of chocolate helps people stay thin. What a relief!

26 March 2012
Talking about the Viennese tradition of serving coffee with a glass of water on a silver tray whereby the spoon is always placed on top of the water glass, perfectly balanced, face down. Allegedly there are a number of reasons for that. Among the better ones are: When only noblemen were allowed to visit coffee houses they put their spoon into the water after stirring. Then there was and sometimes still is a tradition of filling up the glass again and again free of charge which allows you to spend hours without ordering a second cup of coffee. Then going further back in time it is said that Arabic nomads treasured water even more than coffee and serving you a glass of coffee meant you were very, very welcome to their place.

23 – 25 March 2012
As I’ve been around the world but have not made it to Stonehenge and Bath so far I thought it was about time. And what amazing places these are! Stonehenge is truly mythical. And then of course there is also Avebury with its concentric stone circles. And well, Belgium has Spa but the UK has Bath. At the time Bath used to be the in-spa for the Romans in the far north west. Today it is I think among the best museums I have ever seen. Next to the audio guide there are videos in which dressed-up Romans go about their daily life and alongside the main pool you can chat with “real” Romans all dressed up in tunics and ready to share their experiences from about 2.000 years ago. Amongst the best things in the Roman Bath museum are examples of lead curse tablets. If you experienced something dramatic that required you to curse someone – for instance say someone were to steal your bathing tunic – you wrote that curse onto a lead tablet and threw it into the thermal water. More on that subject can be read here. The same source tells us that “time has not been kind to curses. The surface of the lead has often oxidised, corroded and fissured.” Another source tells us more on the actual texts and language used: “Typically texts … relate to theft, at Bath for example of small amounts of money or clothing from the bath-house… In formulaic, often legalistic, language tablets appeal to a deity … to punish the known or unknown perpetrators of the crime until reparation is made. The deity is typically requested to impair the physical and mental well being of the perpetrator, by the denial of sleep, by causing normal bodily functions to cease, or even by death. These afflictions are to cease only when the property is returned to the owner or disposed of as the owner wishes, often by its being dedicated to the deity.”

22 March 2012
London. Vint Cerf, one of the founders of the Internet and working for Google at the moment speaks at a conference. He talks about some – at least to me frightening – news. With Google Goggles it is already possible to search the Internet using pictures instead of text. For the time being this works for landmarks, trademarks and wine logos and the like. But how long will it take until everybody can be recognized on every picture? And for all those who haven’t heard it, yet: Google Earth is SO yesterday, what Google is into now is Google Mars!

21 March 2012
You’d expect it is rainy in London but quite the opposite. So it almost feels bizarre to see an ad in a bookshop that reads: Keep warm, keep dry, keep reading. The best thing you can do when it is raining is let it rain.

20 March 2012
Due to new cost cutting measures, the light at the end of the tunnel will be switched off until further notice.

19 March 2012
Apple sells the „Sleep Talk Recorder Pro™“ in their App Store. With the Sleep Talk Recorder the phone automatically switches onto recording as soon as you talk in your sleep.

18 March 2012
T-shirt print: Adonis: pure or on the rocks?

17 March 2012
The situation: One is chatting away with a shop clerk in a rather nice Viennese winery and is suddenly interrupted by another customer saying something that sounds like: “I hope you don’t mind my interrupting but can you tell me how I can get to Rome?” One is slightly startled and about to reply that the poet Johnny already mentioned that all ways eventually lead to Rome but given the almost circular shape of Vienna’s ring road the navigation, admittedly, might be of a more challenging sort than what can be called usual. But then the shop clerk all of a sudden seems all too understanding and leads her on to the Rum shelves.

16 March 2012
It is better not to quote certain sentences out of context. Such as the following: Sometimes I wish to have my second beer at nine o’clock in the morning.

15 March 2012
Politically correct invitations nowadays state explicitly that male and/or female partners, male and/or female part time partners, future male and/or female contributors to the pension system are welcome together with male and female non-smokers whereas beer lovers and those depending on baby bottles rely on self service.

14 March 2012
Note to self: It is not necessarily a sign of bad personal hygiene when flies are circling around a person’s head in a restaurant.

13 March 2012
You might fall in love with the organization where you work. But do not delude yourself about the organization loving you back. Anonymous

11 March 2012
It would appear that there is something called the “QWERTY effect”. A recent study has looked at the asymmetries in the way people interact with keys on the right and left of the keyboard and how they influence their evaluations of the emotional valence of the words. The study authors found that words with more right-side letters (right in terms of the QWERTY key position) were rated as more positive in valence, on average, than words with more left-side letters.

10 March 2012
I was told that recent studies have shown that against all odds humans are nicer than we think. Neuroscience and psychology are telling us about some “distinctly physical underpinning of basic morality and aversion to violence, implying that humans (and probably many other animals to) have a strong built-in ‘try-not-to-punch-that-dude’ mechanism.”

9 March 2012
“You know the greatest danger facing us is ourselves, an irrational fear of the unknown. But there’s no such thing as the unknown – only things temporarily hidden, temporarily not understood.” Captain James T. Kirk, U.S.S. Enterprise

7 March 2012
And once more on Photoshop

6 March 2012
BIG, the Breast International Group, are looking for a Head of Development for their Brussels office. Moreover, they are promising hands-on leadership experience.

5 March 2012
P. G. Wodehouse said that “the fascination of shooting as a sport depends almost wholly on whether you are at the right or wrong end of the gun”. Sooner or later we might be confronted with being at the other end of a new sort of gun. If you believe the news on a new speech jamming gun it would no longer require courtesy, surprise or fear to mute someone.

4 March 2012
New Zealand travel advisory: This is a warning, New Zealand is boring! And please pay attention: even the iPhone has been invented in NZ!

3 March 2012
The best part about an article I recently read was its title: “When the Going Gets Tough, The Tough Get Coffee”. That again reminded me of a quote by Voltaire: “Anyone who has survived a tragedy hasn’t been its hero.”

2 March 2012
Charm is an inherent quality in everyone’s personality but nevertheless I often wonder how people get by lacking it so profoundly. To give you an example, I got the following comment on being shortsighted: “Your world will always be smaller than ours!”. And on the subject of astigmatism: “The moon you see will always have shadow”. Personally I think the moon has a corona (no, not the beer, the optical phenomenon). Apart from that I think it is time for a basic discussion about whether the moon has a shadow or a corona or both or none. And, more broadly, I’d like to discuss the concept of truth and about what happened to empiricism in 2012. I assume the discussion would proceed bloodily and expect that the fraction of those united by rationalism and normal vision will retreat to claiming that the man in the moon has no twin either.

1 March 2012
I can only recommend consulting “Dogbert’s new ruling class quotes” and I can tell you ‘this stands out like a dog’s sore thumb”. After all “I am not the woman I used to be and I never was!” although despite that “I am bating my head against a dead horse” after all “there is more than one way to screw a cat”. If you are still not convinced let me reassure you “they used enough scotch tape to feed a third world country”. Well, I admit that “Walt Disney would turn around in his grave if he were alive today.” And as “we want this to be effective with a capital A!” I only ask you once more: “What part of No don’t you understand? Is it the N or is it the Zero?”

29 February 2012
From a culinary perspective Munich offers a quite impressive large range of options. The day before yesterday I had caviar and champagne in a luxury hotel, yesterday it was a plain hot dog stand after a demonstration in the city center and today after a traumatic visit to an eye doctor cheesecake and weak coffee. The Germans as such are well known for their thoroughness and rightly so. So even over hot dogs things that had to be done before and will have to be done afterwards are discussed in painstaking detail. Concretely the party in question was soon to be busy with the challenging acquisition of moth balls. I swear it must have been hardly noticeable that I raised my right eyebrow but anyhow unfortunately that triggered a keynote speech on clothes moths in general and kitchen moths in particular. The latter should be blown out of all cracks in your kitchen furniture. The question on what has to happen thereafter remained open. Received comment: This is all we need: a sight-impaired but none-the-less world class photographer…!

28 February 2012
An automated e-mail response tells me: “I am on holidays from … to … During this time I will neither read nor respond to e-mails.” Turning this around it is obviously possible to respond to e-mails that you haven’t read. On second thought: that seems to happen a lot! Received comment: Those answers are predominatly sent via “reply-all” in order to show one’s ignorance most broadly!

27 February 2012
The world in Vorarlberg is too small… Entertaining news from Austria. Ex-finance minister Hubert Gorbach is ready for new challenges and wrote a letter to Britain’s Alistair Darling asking for help. Well worth reading and so here it is! When he came into office in 2002 or 2003 he said? Only the best (people) from the West, for the jobs in the East (= Vienna)? For the German speakers amongst us I can only recommend to read some of the comments on the “Standard’s” website. Somebody says there: “In a referendum in 1919, a majority of 80% voted for a separation of Vorarlberg from Austria and annexing it to Switzerland. However, the Swiss government refused.” Received comment: In the past there was also an Austrian Chancellor, who proposed to form a union with Switzerland based on the argument that both countries use the same colors in the flags. The Swiss representative allegedly replied: That’s correct, but we have a “plus” in the flag and you Austrians got a “minus” … 😉

25 February 2012
A new poster has been added to the Bavarian airport advertisement line „From the sky to heaven on earth – welcome to Bavaria“ (see blog from Nov 16, 2011). So it is now not only condense stripes in the shape of pretzels or leather trousers but also castle Neuschwanstein.

24 February 2012
Viviane Westwood says that never before in history people have been so badly dressed, the only exception being the over 70 year olds.

23 February 2012
Once more a word on fashion. The situation: Hotel breakfast room between eight and nine in the morning. In comes a tall, slender woman in a black ultra miniskirt. In fact rather a pair of hot pants just without the pants element. Furthermore she is wearing a black undershirt under a a white see-through blouse and leans over the buffet reaching out for skinned orange slices. Later she does the same thing again, this time leaning over eggs that had been scrambled four hours earlier or so. My take: all in all not too sexy. Or rather not sexy at all. Hence nobody watching. In comes another lady in a pajama top and tight jeans, exposing a fairly well-built set of love handles, her jeans tightening up right beneath them. A healthy looking husband appears right next to her. My advise: use all you’ve got (in summary: pajamas, love handles, husband) elsewhere and don’t follow every jeans trend slavishly.

22 February 2012
Sometimes attending meetings can be really entertaining. Especially analogies are a source of inspiration. Or how often have you heard comparisons along the lines of “It’s like a hairy mammoth” or “This happens at the speed Putin changes his underwear”? Especially on the latter I thought it might be worthwhile to discuss whether we have evidence on the average speed and/or frequency before we assume that this is an analogy for “fast” or “often”.

21 February 2012
All of a sudden there are posters all over Munich reading: “This is your life. Do what you love and do it often.” It seems to be the first few lines of “The Holstee Manifesto”.  Also worth noting is this page about the “Five Manifestos for the Creative Life” by Kirstin Butler: The 11 Best Psychology and Philosophy Books of 2011

20 February 2012
So I learnt a new word today. I was told that I am down with the dreaded Lurgi, a childhood name for any common illness, including a cold or flu or a bit of a temperature. Wikipedia tells us that in “modern usage” it is bound “to mean any miscellaneous or non-specific illness”.  Again Wikipedia tells is that it was first used in a 1950ies BBC radio programme (The Goon Show), whereby back then the ”symptoms of Lurgi included the uncontrollable urge to cry ‘Yack-a-boo,’ though even during the episode the ailment proved to be an extortionate attempt to sell Brass Band musical instruments.”

19 February 2012
Having spent most of the past few days trying to cure a feverish cold, sleeping and feeling sorry for myself in the short meantime the only thing really worth sharing is watching David Hockney: Secret Knowledge – Omnibus on the BBC iPlayer. In this episode, David Hockney examines the origins of the photographic image.

15 February 2012
A subject nobody was really waiting for: First World Problems. For those of you who have no chance of checking people’s contributions there, they are along the lines of the following: “The increased legroom they have in First Class means I have to stand up to get my in-flight magazine from the seat pocket in front of me.” Received comment: I loved the comment on first world problems…

14 February 2012
Given the number of comments, I should really write a non-paper on fashion…

13 February 2012
Sometimes it’s astonishing if not appalling how much one lives in one’s own world. For instance I learnt today that not everyone knows what a “non-paper” is. In summary and with the help of Wikipedia it can be characterized as follows: A “non-paper” is an unofficial working document. It carries no official letterhead, no stamps and no signature. Often a non-paper serves as the basis for discussions and drafting of a formal written document. It opens up the possibility of introducing a proposal into a discussion or negotiation to which you do not want or cannot officially commit to. In case the proposal gets rejected people involved neither compromise themselves nor lose the ability to alter their positions. The author is free to take ownership and responsibility for the content of the document but may also indicate that it was meant as a non-binding concept and hence give the recipient the option to ignore the proposal entirely.

12 February 2012
On fashion: It’s not quite my name but still I find it rather fascinating that there is a label called Margit Brandt.
Received comment: Good collection well done!
Received comment: Given how many times you’ve noted in your blog that Dilbertonian bureaucrats keep on misspelling your last name, how do you know that Margit Brandt isn’t your real name? Perhaps your parents misspelled your name on your birth certificate….?

11 February 2012
I was reminded that since the 3rd of August 2007 I haven’t even once discussed the subject of cuddling. At the time I had just found out about cuddling parties.
Wikipedia redirects people searching for “cuddling” directly to “hug” which is interesting I thought. Even more so when reading through the article: “A hug is a form of physical intimacy, that usually involves closing or holding the arms around the neck, back, or waist of another person; if more than two persons are involved, this is referred to as a group hug.” Interestingly also Wikipedia differentiates between a “front” and thus “non-intimate hug” and a “back” hence “intimate hug”. Also it would appear that “hugging has been proven to have health benefits. One study has shown that hugs increase levels of oxytocin, and reduce blood pressure.” But one should not forget that “dogs tend to enjoy being hugged less than humans and other primates do, since canines interpret putting a limb over another animal as a sign of dominance.”
Ok, ok, I understand that my distinguished readership is not entirely pleased with today’s entry. So my attention was drawn to the following few web resources:
Some definitions in the Urbandictionary, an article on How to Cuddle, another one on What His Cuddling Body Language Reveals and of course the Highlight: How To Avoid Trapped Arm Whilst Cuddling In Bed, a must watch.

10 February 2012
Word of the day: Surly.

9 February 2012
I’m on a plane. The man next to me is playing a card game on his smartphone. I read a newspaper article about the Arab and Turkish influenced youth slang of big cities. My plane is not even on the runway yet. No movement. Then I see Austrian Airlines – and believe me I heard that their boarding call was way later than mine for Munich – rolling past us, nimble, raises promptly and so quickly that as soon as you watch out again it’s gone. Up and away, the red painted tail still wobbles a bit in the distance. My article gives very apt ways to translate that into slang but still. The crane hasn’t even moved an inch since. So of course, I am led to believe that I’m sitting in the wrong aircraft. And what did Georg Kreisler say at the time? “There are Germans that come to Austria to relax. An Austrian only goes to Germany for business reasons or because he is off his head!”

8 February 2012
Harpe Kerkerling just sang a duet with Miss Piggy!

7 February 2012
Karl Theodor zu Guttenberg’s website has been hacked and he has been made German Cake Minister.

6 February 2012
Christianity is the belief that a cosmic Jewish Zombie who was his own father can make you live forever if you symbolically eat his flesh and telepathically tell him you accept him as your master, so he can remove an evil force from your soul that is present in humanity because a rib-woman was convinced by a talking snake to eat from a magical tree. – Makes perfect sense!
Atheism is the belief that there was nothing and nothing happened to nothing and then nothing magically exploded for no reason, creating everything and then a bunch of everything magically rearranged itself for no reason whatsoever into self-replicating bits which then turned into dinosaurs. – Makes perfect sense!

5 February 2012
Bertrand Piccard says that when the wind is coming from the wrong direction, all you can do in a hot air balloon is change altitude and in order to change altitude in a balloon you need to drop a lot of ballast. He says that you need accept to have doubts and accept to have fears. “Do you want to go very fast in the wrong direction or slowly in the right direction? … Which is the ballast you would like to throw over board? Which is the altitude at which you would like to fly in your life to get to the success you wish to have? To get to the point that really belongs to you with the potential you have and the one you can achieve? Because the only renewable energy we have is our own potential and our own passion.”

4 February 2012
P. G. Wodehouse said: “I just sit at a typewriter and curse a bit.” Feels like writing this blog sometimes. He also said: “I know I was writing stories when I was five. I don’t know what I did before that. Just loafed I suppose.“

3 February 2012
You must think I’m a fool
So prosaic and awkward and all
D’you think you’ve got me down?
D’you think I’ve never been out of this town?
… (song by KEANE “Leaving So Soon?”)

2 February 2012
This is not Wikileakes and I do not want to mention the source but I have to share this quote. It is a definition that struck me and it goes like this: “Tech freaks are those … who get kick and satisfaction in showing their technical prowess even if it amounts to creating inconvenience to others. … Sometimes they take control of the computer controlled machines belonging to someone else. They disrupt the communication systems and channels through their technical skills and knowledge.” That could be the description of any support hotline really (but it isn’t).
Another quote I also found quite remarkable: The added value of the presentation was rather low and we presume that this was exactly what the speaker intended.

1 February 2012
The essence of all truly new is that the process of getting there has no master plan but follows tense, chaotic and rumbling democratic circumstances. This was written in an article in a paper I kept from mid December. And I know I have been accused before of reading oldspapers instead of newspapers.

31 January 2012
I was kindly reminded of Martin Niemöller today and his famous quote:
“First they came for the communists, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist.
Then they came for the socialist, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.
Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak out for me.”

29 January 2012
“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” – Mary Oliver

28 January 2012
Why do I get so many Viagra spam mails these days? I read that dissolving one in water and watering Christmas trees makes them stay fresh well into late January but I should think hardly anyone has any Christmas trees left by now…
One of my dear readers says that I may send the blue spam over. Seems more people than I thought still do have Xmas trees!
And then I got some more analytical and highly amusing remarks, stating that spam seems to consist of either financial enticements or performance enhancements or system extensions. So in reverse order it is either to make it bigger or to make it work better or to be able to pay so much that it does not matter. However dissolving the performance type spam in water and giving the result to your Xmas tree may be going too far even if it can keep it going strong almost until Easter.

27 January 2012
I do not have a car anymore and getting used to public transport is quite challenging for me. Just one example: I sat in a more or less empty tram. A man of the type Bill Bryson in his early 30ies sits down next to me, reads my paper and then says rather abruptly: Women in the booming (?) economy may have some benefit from a good business newspaper! One could, he continued his monologue, trade wheat online these days now, trade it to the third dimension (?). Never before in history could humanity trade wheat as varied as now … the rest of his arguments were incomprehensible.

26 January 2012
I read a comment (in German only) on Kodak’s bankruptcy that states something I agree on totally, namely that waiting has become unfashionable. It is an interesting thought that we lost the original since do more and more digitally. Jim Rocket says that “the lack of an original image is the phantom pain of photography.”

25 January 2012
Europe will get new data protection laws. George Orwell is probably already turning in his grave, given official press statements like: “The right to be forgotten is of course not an absolute right. There are cases where there is a legitimate and legally justified interest to keep data in a data base. … It is clear that the right to be forgotten cannot amount to a right of the total erasure of history.”
Received comment: Dear CBO (Chief Blogging Officer), can I highlight that your esteemed blog entry for January 25th is entirely different in English and German 🙂
Answer: I can only apologize…

24 January 2012
The only function of economic forecasting is to make astrology look respectable. – John Kenneth Galbraith

23 January 2012
I got this poem by Joseph Beuys:
Let yourself go.
Learn to observe snakes.
Plant impossible gardens.
Invite someone dangerous to tea.
Make little signs that say “Yes”
And spread them throughout your house.
Become a friend of freedom and uncertainty.
Look forward to your dreams at night.
Cry at movies.
Swing as high as you can with a swing in the moonlight.
Nourish different moods.
Refuse to be “responsible”.
Do it for love.
Take a lot of naps.
Give more money. Do it now. The money will follow.
Belief in witchcraft.
Laugh a lot.
Bathe in the moonlight.
Dream wild, fanciful dreams.
Draw on the walls.
Read every day.
Imagine you’d be enchanted.
Giggle with children. Listen to old people.
Open yourself. Dive in. Be free.
Praise yourself.
Don’t be afraid.
Play with everything.
Entertain your inner child.
You are innocent.
Build a castle made of blankets.
Get wet.
Hug trees.
Write love letters.

21 January 2012
In the series “remarkable quotes from telephone conferences”: A: Can you go on mute, please? B: No. A: Well can you then at least refrain from breathing?

20 January 2012
I promised to get back to you on the topic of skirt lengths and heel height. Many years ago I read that there is a relationship between skirt lengths and the economic cycle. They are indirectly proportional, so in recession times we have long skirts although you’d assume there is less money for fabric while skirts tend to be short in boom times. So my assumption is that in 2012 we’re going to move away from tight mini and pencil skirts!
After some more research I found out that the 1920 Hemline Theory by George Taylor in fact suggests that hemlines on women’s dresses correlate with rising or falling stock prices. Anyway the theory has been extended since. Quoting from “The hemline index, updated” by Tamar Lewin “During a recession, laxatives go up, because people are under tremendous stress, and holding themselves back,” said Shapiro, now chief executive of SAGE, a Chicago-based consulting firm. “During a boom, deodorant sales go up, because people are out dancing around. When people have less money, they buy more of the things that have less water in them, things that are not so perishable. Instead of lettuce and steak and fruit, it’s rice and beans and grain and pasta. Except this time the price of pasta’s so high that it’s beans and rice.”
Well to be honest I like the skirt length index better than the laxative one.
And well, I got the hint that this piece here was falling short on heel heights…

19 January 2012
I really want to take the opportunity of today’s entry and thank you all for being raving fans of this blog!
Scott Mc Kain (yet another motivational speaker with round glasses, oh no, that was perhaps politically very incorrect) says on his blog: “How many followers do YOU have on Twitter?” “Have you maxed out your ‘friends’ on Facebook?” “What’s the traffic on your blog?” Questions anyone on social media are being asked these days – and it exemplifies part of what has been wrong with our thinking in business: More must be better. And, it’s NOT: More is just more. Better is better. In other words, having fewer followers and friends – and providing something so compelling, these people become raving fans – is superior to simply amassing numbers.

18 January 2012
As I am in exile and only going to Brussels on a day trip tomorrow I was told that only very few people regard being away from Brussels as exile!

17 January 2012
I have to share a brilliant video on Photoshop or rather Fotoshop and another one on Viennese Coffee Shops.

13 January 2012
Poet William Blake on how to start the day: “‘Think in the morning, act in the noon, read in the evening, and sleep at night.’

10 January 2012
I have seen e-mail signatures come and go and am not really sure whether they are now en vogue or not. Recently they started to pop up again more and more. One I liked was “Beauty comes first. Victory is secondary. What matters is joy.” – Sócrates (1954-2011)

9 January 2012
And yet again more pictures, this time from Thailand, Australia and New Zealand!
Received comment: Nice photos especially Thai!

7 January 2012
It has been rather quiet with regard to the “promised land” Bavaria. But well, there we go. A Bavarian radio station has come up with the rhyme of the day: “It’s nice to be a Preiss (Prussian) but it’s higher to be a Bayer (Bavarian).“
Another interesting development has been noticed at Munich’s airport. Mannequins seem to sprout from the floors there. And I feel quite charmed that they were associated with me. To tell you the truth I fear they are part of Fujitsu’s recent advertisement campaign instead. Fujitsu’s new motto is „accept no boundaries“. It would appear that gravitation is one of the boundaries that are no more. Not too well placed in Munich I dare say. Speaking of which: A charming quote I read a few days ago, allegedly by Einstein himself: „Gravitation is not responsible for people falling in love“.

6 January 2012
There are quite some new pictures on this website now namely from Chile, Singapore, Myanmar, Kuala Lumpur and Vietnam.
I swear I came across this article on how to be interesting by pure coincidence. Nevertheless I really liked the suggestions on embracing your inner weirdness. There is more on that here.
Received comment: Inner weirdness? What poppycock. I embrace normality!

5 January 2012
Video of the day: Everybody’s Free (to wear sunscreen).

4 January 2012
I found an old draft note for what I must have considered subjects of tomorrow back then:
1. Are hovers better with or without bags?
2. Should men be able to cook eggs?
3. Are bolt ties better than regular ties?
4. How to make pumpkins out of ice cream?
I must confess especially the latter is quite a mystery to me together with the first item. It also escapes my mind why I have a soap bar next to a very sticky piece of candy and an even sticker pen in my coat pocket.

3 January 2012
Due to a comment I received from a well wisher who is disappointed there is not enough on fashion or sport on this blog I dare say I read elsewhere that the colors of the season are smoothie colors. And then again that fits all well with the overall tendency to blended or mashed food such as soups, smoothies, cocktails etc. Mostly drinks I guess. Anyway my point is the spring colors are very tolerant towards our eating habits.
Received comment: Thanks regarding the color advise for spring. Am sure your readers will value items on skirt length and heel height and rugby in the future 🙂

2 January 2012
What I forgot in yesterday’s entry: The best advertisement punch line I read was by Tudor watches with their rule number seven: “Seduction is just a matter of time”. I could not agree more.

1 January 2012
So this was 2011: My one year sabbatical leave ended in late September and the brief summary is: I would not have had any difficulties meandering through the world for much, much longer.
I divide the longer version into various findings and/or lessons learnt:
On the status of the world at large: In a nutshell: Incompetence rules the world.
On personal details: Often questions around “Where are you from?” end up in a loop. „So where are you from?” “Austria.” “Sidney?” [note: for reasons of simplicity:] “Vienna.” “Where are you going?” … “What’s your name?” … “What’s your work?” … “How much do you earn?” … “How old are you?” … “Are you married?” … “What’s your shoe size?”… “Where are you from?” “You already asked me that.” “Oh, I forgot…”
On food and drinks: My overall advice is: don’t ever think a green bean is a green bean. When in doubt remember it can and will most certainly be green chili. One of the better encouragements for vegetarians I heard in Asia was: I hope you like rice.
Top 3 (+1) cocktails: Ambience: Singapore Sling, Raffles Hotel, Singapore. Quirky + best view: Coco Loco, Hotel Pink Flamingo, Acapulco. Best taste: Pina Colaca, Boracay/The Phillipines. Extra ranking for most astute promise: Orgasmo, Lake Chapala near Guadajahara, Mexico.
On hygiene and the right sequence: Always check first whether there is water at all and only then put soap onto your hands. I’m still doing very badly at that. And yes, a few years of regular Pilates training came in handy whenever balance without touching any of the surroundings was required, for instance most toilets.
On unfriendly controls at airports: Always take ample time when finishing your water or when tying shoe laces again after an insulting approach to get rid of any remaining water or off your shoes.
On vein and/or losing it: Using a tiny black plastic sickness bag from a ferry in lieu of an expensive handbag proves one has become less vein than one used to.
On the material: Even waterproof shoes get wet if water (and leeches) are coming from above the ankle. Jeans do not only get lighter, they also get much thinner and eventually they are ripped apart. I lost a scarf, a sweater, my favorite jacket and a bikini – fortunately not all at the same time or at a time when those were the only things I was wearing respectively. Furthermore two people of my acquaintance (obviously no friends of mine) and last but not least a blanket – one of the more useful things I carried though how it slipped my possession eludes my mind.
On hotels: Most hotel rooms are equipped with either a copy of the bible or the yellow pages. Sometimes you’ll find both mostly when all you really need is the password for the wireless Internet.

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