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Blog 2013

31 December 2013
Furtune Cookie: You love chocolate.
Nothing to add here.
Or perhaps there is: Love chocolate completely, without complexes or false shame; remember, there is no reasonable man without a spark of madness. – François de La Rochefoucauld

28 December 2013
I’ve only just now stumbled across this newspaper article and seriously wonder what to make of it. As it happened, a man gave the impression to be a simultaneous interpreter for sign language during the recent funeral ceremony of Nelson Mandela but actually his gestures appeared to be completely meaningless. He gestured for hours. Especially the latter amuses me greatly and artistically I find it very appealing especially when it comes to translating meaningless speeches into equally meaningless gestures. But then again of course the question is whether a funeral is the adequate setting for such a performance.

27 December 2013
PA Charlotte’s fahion column: Tartan is about long-standing tradition. A style of clothing of cross-cutting weave with colors and patterns linked to generations of Scottish families. It was arguably an ancient unisex fashion too as men also wore kilts (skirts). And now it has moved beyond the traditional and is high fashion. Look at this and this. I am planning a tartan collection, for both sexes allowing for coordination of outfits at work or at leisure!
The Scottish tartan did not really seem to be exported to other Celtic fringe nations. The Irish kilts are plainer; and kilts are very much less evident in French ‘Celtic fringes’ or in Wales. Asterix the Gaul has just had a book set in Scotland, with kilt-wearing, whisky-drinking and caber-tossing much to the fore. Maybe the kilt could make the return journey to France with the Scottish Picts and eventually become part of haute couture!

Received comment: A lot of the mythology is artificial, invented relatively recently.
At some time way back people mostly used locally produced textiles and they were dyed locally with what was available. So they were regional variations. And if you dyed the wool that you are going to use to make the cloth rather than the finished material then you could make the final results prettier? And stripy?
But in Scotland much of that was after William Wallace and Robert the Bruce and the so-called wars of independence.
Later though tartans were used as a sort of uniform in the Jacobite rebellions.
Even those English, or at least some of them, who fought on the side of Bonnie Prince Charlie wore tartan.
Then with the defeat at Culloden tartan was banned. Well except for Highland regiments. Of course regiments already had and were to have to have standard patterns and colours: each regiment had its tartan or tartans.
And then the ban on wearing tartan was lifted. And the marketing machine started. I don’t think it has ever stopped!
So each clan, region, family name had a tartan. If you go into certain shops in Edinburgh they will be very happy to tell you which tartan is associated with your name. Or hobby. Or profession. Or US state. Or whatever. It does not matter at all if you are not Scottish.
Mind you I read that some of the earliest examples of tartan were discovered in Austria.
For pretty see this link.
By the way there is a book about the Great War and there is a section on English guys being drafted into Highland regiments and being “obliged” to wear kilts “properly”.

24 December 2013
Broken Muses wishes all readers a Very Merry Christmas!

22 December 2013
Nothing is as powerful as an idea whose time has come. – Victor Hugo

19 December 2013
Interviewer to Frank Zappa: “So Frank, you have long hair. Does that make you a woman?” Frank Zappa: “You have a wooden leg. Does that make you a table?”

18 December 2013
I heard that Kellogg’s Corn Flakes is surpassingly the most innovative company on the planet. All their products are individually shaped.
Received comment: Isn’t that just nice to think about!  Not easy to prove, but at least a small test shows them right – you can’t find any two being identical 😉

17 December 2013
Note to self: It is utterly inappropriate to suggest that the touch and feel of a Japanese Mochi might resemble the touch and feel of silicon breasts. It is an assumption only and just spoils the moment for the guests that try Mochis for the first time. Somehow they cannot get the picture out of their heads it seems. It also does not help that the Mochi’s taste itself then is rather odd and the rice and sweet bean paste do their bit.
Received comment: I liked the feeling and the taste, I had to take two.

16 December 2013
The greatest danger in times of turbulence is not the turbulence itself but to act with yesterday’s logic. – Peter Drucker

15 December 2013
What a great video, even if you do not speak any German, just have a look at the video!
Received comment: What a great video – It turned Monday morning into a smile. I guess your own dog is always special, and I recognized quite a few similarities 🙂
Received comment: This guy may speak German, but is he really German? Two mitigating factors suggest that he has to be Austrian: (1) Do Germans have a sense of humor? (I think not.) and (2) If he were German, wouldn’t he and his dog be drinking a fine German beer rather than what appears to be a wine, hard liquor, or some sort of after dinner drink?

14 December 2013
PA Charlotte’s column on mostly anything relevant to her: Tartan is about long-standing tradition. A style of clothing of cross-cutting weave with colours and patterns linked to generations of Scottish families. It was arguably an ancient unisex fashion too as men also wore kilts (skirts). And now it has moved beyond the traditional and is high fashion. Look at this and this (see link). I am planning a tartan collection, for both sexes allowing for coordination of outfits at work or at leisure!
The Scottish tartan did not really seem to be exported to other Celtic fringe nations. The Irish kilts are plainer; and kilts are very much less evident in French ‘Celtic fringes’ or in Wales. Asterix the Gaul has just had a book set in Scotland, with kilt-wearing, whisky-drinking and caber-tossing much to the fore. Maybe the kilt could make the return journey to France with the Scottish Picts and eventually become part of haute couture!

10 December 2013
Allegedly in the press: The longest password ever: During a recent password audit by a company it was found that an employee was using the following password: “MickeyMinniePlutHueyLouieDeweyDonaldGoofySacramento”. When asked why she had such a long password, she rolled her eyes and said: “Hello! It has to be at least 8 characters and include at least one capital.”

7 December 2013
“All art has been contemporary.” Museum of Egyptian Art, Munich. Is that really so?

5 December 2013
The utopia is getting better, while one is waiting for it. Seen at the entrance of the Golden Bar in Munich.

4 December 2013
Many people believe that rituals are very important and appear to be effective. Ever since I live in Munich I have this ritual of bleeding radiators. This is only in the heating periods of course but still, that can mean all the months between September and June. So every morning before doing anything else really I dig out my little key which is on a chain made from an old shoelace. So the air comes out and my day can start.
Received comment:
Ah, the bleeding ritual!‏
Don’t have to do it that often.
But it can be strangely satisfying.
Crouching there.
A key in one hand.
A glass to collect the water –
very dirty water –
in the other.
The long whisper.
And then it is done.
Ah.

3 December 2013
Wow, after hybrid cars we get hybrid animals! Number 3 is sort of cute but I want to mention once more that I really fancy dogs.

2 December 2013
I am told that what I am writing is not a blog. It is rather a long text that gets edited on the top bit. It is static. What a bad word that is these days. Static. Almost sounds like steady. Continuous. Predictable. One cannot group themes. Focusing on a particular year needs elaborate scrolling skills and may lead to a tennis forefinger. And it is not interactive. What is the opposite really? Unidirectional? But hey, comments are possible, it is just so that there is an admin part in me that wants to scan them first and check them against the motto of this blog (i.e. if only every eloquent person had something to say). So keep those comments coming and don’t shy away, otherwise I might consider re-naming this blog a block.

25 November 2013
The German youth word of the year 2013 is Babo (lent from Turkish, meaning something along the lines of boss) and the one of last year was: YOLO, you only live once.
By the way one of the most “creative” words of the year 2012 was “gate lice” meaning airline passengers who crowd around a gate, waiting to board.

23 November 2013
Just a brief and quickly noted list of my top ten coffee houses (the list is in no particular order):
1. Vienna – Diglas Wollzeile
2. Vienna – Cafe Central
3. Vienna – Cafe Sperl
4. Lisbon – Cafe a Brasileira
3. Rio de Janeiro – Confeitaria Colombo
4. New York – Cafe on Broome Street
5. Brussels – Cafe Metropole
6. Mürzzuschlag – Cafe Wien
7. Budapest – Cafe New York
8. Budapest – Cafe Gerbeaud’s
9. Helsinki – Cafe Kappeli
10. Amsterdam – Eden America Hotel

16 – 22 November 2013
3D-printing has a certain fascination you see. I saw an exhibition of Ars Electronica at the conference I am attending in Bangkok and the person introducing me to it said that 3D-printing today still has various implications like what to do with the plastic waste one unavoidably produces. Most of the 3D-printing that is happening today is done with some sort of plastic but already today one could print with almost any substance that can be liquefied. He mentioned chocolate and got me even more interested. Then he ventured out stating he could print a 3D image of his face onto a chocolate figure. I looked at him, pictured his dentist who had obviously given up on him and thought I would not do that, given the likelihood of unintended consequences. On the upside: with chocolate people would perhaps not worry so much about the leftover waste. There were other things I learnt in Bangkok apart from 3D-chocolate printing.
For instance, that there are new jobs out there called “futurist”. Their job description has similarities to those of prophets and fortune tellers only that it is by far less specific.
And then I learnt that if trousers should fit at the waistline, you only need to take the trouser waistband and put it loosely around your neck. If it fits, the trousers fit. So in other words, it seems that half of your waist circumference equals your collar size. Fascinating I thought!
On a completely different matter I was asked whether I wanted any lice with my meal. I thought not necessarily having in mind the wasp larvae I saw on a market in Laos once. But in that case it proved completely harmless and referred only to rice. Oh yes, and I saw the phallic shirne! Allegedly Nai Lert (1872-1945) found a spirit house floating in the klong and he placed it on the bank of his property. It is called Goddess Tuptim Shrine and described on the spot as follows: “The origins of Chao Mae Tuptim are obscure. It can only be recalled that a spirit house was built by Nai Lert for the spirit who was believed to reside in the large Sai (ficus) tree. The basic offerings are fragrant wreaths of snow-white jasmine flowers, incense sticks, pink and white kotus buds. Chao Mae Tuptim has received yet another, rather less conventional kind of gift, phallic in shape, both small and large, stylized and highly realistic. Over the years they have been brought by the thousands and today fill the area around the shrine. Confronted by the extraordinary display the shrine has automatically been concluded to be dedicated to fertility.”

Tuptim Shrine Bangkok

14 November 2013
PA Charlotte’s column on mostly anything relevant to her: Maurice Chevalier famously said: “Many a man has fallen in love with a girl in light so dim he would not have chosen a suit by it.” I have the answer to part of this problem. Women could wear clothes with luminescence sewn into the fabric: see link. Come to think of it, and better still, this would be ideal in men’s suits. It would avoid women making the same mistake! More fundamentally, if a woman always wear an elegant skirt suit or dress – as one certainly always should – then at least half of M Chevalier’s problem is always solved…

13 November 2013
PA Charlotte has attended a course at the Copenhagen Academy of Fashion Design, a very classical training which has kept her busy prevented her from regularly contributing to this blog. Some readers have already sent in comments, some worry, some were rather content that they were not confronted with fashion advise and some complained bitterly and said they wanted to flag that there is a worrying absence of articles in the blog marrying fashion and book selling.
Now it seems she’s back on her regular duties, she writes:
My intensive six month fashion design ‘sabbatical’ was very instructive and very intense. Designers are inspirational and creative. Much of this is intuitive and ‘within the person’. But techniques and introductions to fabrics, materials, budgets, brand analysis/research and manufacture add the vital reality check. This is what I found most valuable and most difficult. The course I joined in fashion design try to train students to anticipate trends. This is not easy of course. I learnt a great deal from the basics of cutting and sewing fabrics (rather dull) to how to plan and choreograph a collection of day wear and evening dresses. I also learnt how to work around the clock getting fabrics, colours, people and models coordinated – often in a very tense and emotional environment! I now need a few months rest….. I may expose some of my design ideas in later blogs!

7 November 2013
The question “what is a weekend” is legendary, isn’t it?

6 November 2013
I have to admit I am not a big fan of Twitter but the question by @Harlequin77 that has been retweeted to me the other day has quite some relevance in today’s world. It was about that: „Is it ok, in cases of involuntary eavesdropping on public transport, to ask strangers follow-up questions if parts of their phone conversation remain unclear?”
In essence the same question applies in open offices I think.

4 November 2013
How to respond to a statement of somebody that the same somebody encountered a pig on his windshield? I for one was certainly borderline terrified. Was it alive? A piglet or already a grown pig? Frozen? In the context of the conversation I somehow noticed I must have misheard and said pig had actually been a stone … pig shock, huh, Monday morning I say.

2 November 2013
A small selection of very cool airline safety videos: Air New Zealand’s 2010 version of The Only Way is Up, again Air New Zealand in body paint only – I got you under my skin and then of course Virgin America’s tips for the 0.001% of all of us who have never operated a seatbelt before. To be honest I have only seen the first one as the actual safety video on a plane…

1 November 2013
All Saints Day. On my way to the family grave I pass my favorite grave where Alfred Zero is buried. As every year I ask myself how it would be to go through life with this name. He did not return from World War II but still has lived up to 40, the forty years of Zero. The grave opposite the family grave lists two children with the same name who were both born and died in the same year. That is what I call devotion or is it rather a lack of imagination? It is hard to say really. I’d be interested whether a third child has ever been born, and if so, whether that child is still alive or just buried elsewhere and whether it has yet again the same name.

30. October 2013
As far as I am concerned I could live with Tom Standage’s analogy that blogs equal pamphlets, and microblogs equal coffeehouses 🙂

29. October 2013
What to do if one’s Blackberry isn’t working?

25. – 27. Oktober 2013
Sightseeing in Würzburg.

24 October 2013
Road-tripping through the American night: Photographer’s eerie collection of abandoned ruins taken along the highway after dark

23 October 2013
Dave Allen on teaching a child how to tell the time: “So the first hand is the hour hand and the second hand is the minute hand and the third hand is the second hand…”.

22 October 2013
How to say yes and no: Conceptually, we support the concept; we also support targeting the target and support the target by and large albeit having concerns about the specifics.

21 October 2013
What a song, what a dance! Catgroove by Parov Stelar.

20 October 2013
From one of my all time favorites: Yes, Minister, The Diaries of a Cabinet Minister by the Right Hon. James Hacker MP, Edited by Jonathan Lynn and Antony Jay:
‘Humphrey,’ I said, ‘will you give me a straight answer to a straight question?’ …
‘So long as you are not asking me to resort to crude generalisations or vulgar over-simplifications, such as a simple yes or no,’ he said, in a manner that contrived to be both openly ingenuous and deeply evasive, ‘I shall do my utmost to oblige.’
‘Do you mean yes?’ I asked.
A fierce internal struggle appeared to be raging within. ‘Yes,’ he said finally.
‘Right,’ I said. ‘Here is the straight question.’
Sir Humphrey’s face fell. ‘Oh,’ he said, ‘I thought that was it.’
I persevered. ‘Humphrey, in your evidence to the Think-Tank, are you going to support my view that the Civil Service is overmanned and feather-bedded or not? Yes or no! Straight answer!’
Could I have put this question any more plainly? I don’t think so. This was the reply: ‘Minister, if I am pressed for a straight answer I shall say that, as far as we can see, looking at it by and large, taking one thing with another, in terms of the average of departments, then in the last analysis it is probably true to say that, at the end of the day, you would find, in general terms that, not to put too fine a point on it, there really was not very much in it one way or the other.’
While I was still reeling from this, he added, no doubt for further clarification, ‘As far as one can see, at this stage.’
I made one last attempt. ‘Does that mean yes or no?’ I asked, without much hope.
‘Yes and no,’ he replied helpfully.
‘Suppose,’ I said, ‘suppose you weren’t asked for a straight answer?’
‘Ah,’ he said happily, ‘then I should play for time, Minister.’

19 October 2013
Great pictures: Just the two of us by the Austrian photographer Klaus Pichler.

9 October 2013
Fortune cookie in Rosenheim: You may serve mighty men and beautiful women but your trust in them should be less.

4 October 2013
T-shirt print: “A bald head is nudism at the highest level” – Applying the same logic, I am asking myself what barefoot means really, nudism at the lowest level?

3 October 2013
German Unity Day, a public holiday in good old Germany and for me a day of hiking up to a summit called Brecherspitze (breaking tip). So far “Brecherspitze” was the name of one of the weirdest hotels I have ever stayed at. It is in Munich and prohibits taking a shower after ten in the evening – for those rooms of curse that with shower and toilet down the corridor. I forget whether one is also no longer allowed to go to the toilet after ten p.m. there. Anyways, hiking is just like real life: as soon as you feel sure-footed, some circumstances change and soon enough you land on your backside on what just a second ago felt like stable ground.

2 October 2013
One of the key findings during this cure here is that the local rainbow press has a considerable number of readers.

1 October 2013
After the long and quite exhausting hike up to the Wendelstein on Saturday, today’s trek to Tregleralm in dense fog felt almost like a light walk.

25 – 30 September 2013
Right after my arrival to the spa I had a severe cold and fever but recovered rather swiftly. The cure in itself is simply wonderful! I get various treatments, do some gymnastics, go for walks, hike, get time to read and talk and really have time to recover.
Some things are a bit unusual like the small parking lot for walking frames just outside the dining area and the puzzles. There are two puzzles for the whole community and usually one or two elderly people stand there deeply concentrated on their game. However, recently the joy for those who love to puzzle has suffered tremendously since one night someone destroyed a nearly finished image. Someone stuck a note to it with the question: Who was the destroyer? And someone immediately scribbled down an answer: It wasn’t me! Hmm, someone breaks an unwritten social contract and everything in disarray.

24 September 2013
Oh how time flies! I arrived at the spa in Bad Feilnbach for my three week treatment and was immediately forced to slow down considerably. The room was not yet ready and when it finally was it took me 5 minutes to unpack, 10 minutes if you wish incuding parking the car. I went to my doctor’s appointment, read half of my first book, was lying in the sun, walked to town. And slowely started to realize that there is time to rest.

19 September 2013
It is really all but obvious what the Fox says

17 September 2013
Been traveling a lot recently and got to fly one (budget) airline that advertises with the slogan “I believe I can fly” – not too reassuring in my opinion. And then this other budget airline I flew with yesterday had the song “Upside down” on infinite loop just before takeoff…

16 September 2013
Did I mention that I do not particularly like public transport? Today I had to listen to what must have been the most boring conversation of the century. Two shop clerks who both work at an airport boutique spoke about the ugliest brown dress they’d ever set eyes on, had to hang in the shop window and were forbidden (!) to sell. Hence they are stuck with the dress and furthermore an empty shelf. They kept on discussing the deeper meaning of the empty shelf for another 15 minutes…

15 September 2013
A friend of mine just shared a quote: “When you are dead, you do not know that you are dead. It is difficult only for the others. It is the same when you are stupid.”

13 September 2013
Vita est Lavorum.

10 -12 September 2013
Went to a book presentation in good old Brussels. One of the speakers said he considered publishing this book at this point in time as “courageous but not in the Yes, Minister sense”. In the yes, minister one can only be happy for the author that nobody said it was original, imaginative or – worst of all – that his ideas were novel.

9 September 2013
It would appear that returning from Uzbekistan I have imported some nasty bacteria. Perhaps it is true what they say after all: In wine there is wisdom, in beer there is freedom, in water there is bacteria.

8 September 2013
Back from Uzbekistan I paddle with a SUP board on a small lake, lost in my thoughts.

6 to 7 September 2013
Just a short stopover in Tashkent for a night and then back west. I will miss the sweet Uzbek melons, the Taptschans, this comfy sitting beds, divans where you can eat, lie down or spend any time you like, and the turquoise blue and green tiles.

6 September 2013
The tour guide one more provides for a good laugh as he swings a plastic bag with two used lady’s panties, asking shyly for the owner.  All of a sudden the bus driver goes every color from pink to dark red and claims the bag with a please-let-a-hole-in-the-ground-open-up-to-swallow-me-gesture.

5 September Samarkand
The big power blackout in Samarkand has lasted for 26 hours by now. In the meantime we were heading for a museum in order to meet up with an archaeologist we had just met a few days earlier in Bukhara. At first we were in a taxi with a mad taxi driver moving persistently in the opposite direction, ignoring all red lights on the way and speaking relentlessly into a mobile phone. He eventually had to stop at an intersection and the four of us went out of the taxi before he even noticed. In another taxi with an almost equally stubborn driver we finally arrived to our museum and settled on a bench outside letting the museum staff know that we were there to see the exhibition together with a highly decorated archaeologist who would come be there. Forty-five minutes later we were still sitting like the Four Graces outside the museum but somehow a tad more subdued and decided to visit the museum by ourselves. Later, it turned out that the archaeologist had (somehow – and don’t get this the wrong way -rather aptly) fallen into a hole in the ground, broken his leg, consequently been hospitalized and thus not been able to guide us.

4 September 2013
Samarkand: It is one of the oldest cities in the world and only the sound of that word makes me dream. Like Bukhara, Samarkand hosts a collection of historic buildings in the middle of a fairly modern and sprawling city. And here again the architecture is quite different from that in Bukhara and Khiva. The Registan Square is monumental, with its mosques and madrasahs and further out, near the original city of Samarkand (now an archeological site), one can see the remains of Ulugh Beg’s large sextant which he used instead of a telescope to survey the night sky and catalogue over a thousand stars.
In one of the many souvenir shops I find a huge, old turquoise, ornamented tile. It is for sale but its origins somehow quite doubtful. Nevertheless it is of course beyond beautiful. The rules are strict in Uzbekistan and nothing antique must leave the country. I inquire about the price just in case. The merchant smells business and behaves Mr. Flexible. He says that should I think the tile to be just too heavy, he would gladly cut off a part and sell me the smaller fragment. I can only just imagine the man with the delicate tile and a crude angle grinder…

3 September 2013
From the desert we continue our journey to the village of Sentab in order to spend a day in a “Homestay”. At first sight the village looked like there were only a few houses in a barren, rocky area but to my astonishment behind the high walls there is a small oasis: A huge garden full of walnut trees, a stone pool which is somehow in between a pond and swimming pool and then there is a building next to it for a proper siesta. In it there are velvet upholstered mats and pillows on a carpet in a Bukhara pattern.
During the late morning we find ourselves the guests of honor at a local wedding. Weddings in the village are celebrated from 9 am to about 1 pm and so when we arrive by about 11 am there are already five empty vodka bottles under the table that has been assigned to us. A zealous wedding guest in a bright green shirt talks feverishly to two ladies from our group. I witness this only in the corner of my eye but notice all at once that something green tilts from the corner of this very eye. The gentleman in green slowly sinks back in his chair, no with his chair, drops from the chair and falls a few meters down the hill where our table is located. But he comes right back on and up and cheers to us as if nothing has happened.
In the afternoon we hike up some hills and come past the grave of the woman who has introduced the concept of batter to the village of Sentab in the 16th century. Only since then there is bread and the like in the village.

2 September 2013
From Bukhara on we go into the wilderness of the desert heading for a yurt camp. I feel a little queasy, perhaps a first sign or the ubiquitous diarrhea that seems to haunt all the westerners. But the night in the desert is simply stunning! I’ve never seen so many stars, not even in the Bay of Islands in New Zealand. The Milky Way was visible to its fullest, and close enough to almost touch it. Many fellow travelers have even seen shooting stars as well but I haven’t.

1 September 2013
Still in Bukhara. The domes and turquoise tiles are simply breathtaking. Where Khiva has felt as if it were an open air museum and somehow just like Pompeii shortly before the eruption, a fantasy of one thousand and two nights where you would have suspected Scheherazade at each corner and only a stone mason to break the silence, Bukhara is more of a mixture of old and new.

31 August 2013

In Bukhara there is an amusement park which almost looks like a museum from a 1960ies amusement park. At the entrance very small children are placed in small cars and directed over the large paved square by their parents who use remote controls (!). The Ferris wheel moves slowly and from how it’s built looks anything but safe. As in Khiva, Buchara has beautiful and perfectly restored buildings. Only two madrasas on the outskirts of the old town are still somewhat dilapidated. Through narrow spiral stair cases the adventurous visitor can even climb up to the roof.

30 August 2013

We drive from Khiva to Bukhara. We decide to give it a go and test the melon and cut it to everybody’s amusement. To everyone’s astonishment it is not only a honey melon but also perhaps the sweetest melon of all times and – most surprisingly – enough for 10 people to try.

29 August 2013

The market outside the inner city wall of Khiva is about to close when we visit. At the entrance one finds the black money dealers with their enormous bags to carry cash (100 Euros are worth about 340,000 Sum). A separate and quite extensive part of the market belongs to the melon trade. For no apparent reason one of the dealers gives us a melon as a present. It is the smallest watermelon I have ever seen. An ostrich egg would be  huge in comparison to this tiny melon. I have second thoughts about mixing with the crowd with this little melon, it is somehow really embarrassing given the sheer gigantic size of the other melons in this country, both the honey and the water melons. Especially against the background that Uzbek melons are known beyond the countries’ boundaries since ancient times and allegedly were traded in the ratio one melon against one slave once. I rear that for our mini melon we would not even get a little slave and perhaps not even a slave on a mini-job or timesharing basis. The other merchants have only a mild smile for us. In the 1000 year old mosque someone wants to know how much we have paid for it. I say, the melon was “free” but obviously the lady who asked heard “three” and was in shock that we would have paid 3,000 Sum for such a pathetic melon.

28 August 2013

Flight to Urgench. Before takeoff, the pilot has his window open and to everybody’s amusement takes another swig from a bottle of vodka. On the way to Khiva we visit the desert fortress Ayaz-Kala.

After dinner in Khiva, we note that there is no drinking water in the room and the hotel or bar ran out of water, too (they still served Vodka, though). So we walked back to the main road where all the shops and restaurants had closed for the night already. Someone advised to knock on a door somewhere in a back street. On the way to said door we pass a man in his underpants who was washing himself quite elaborately with about 2 liters of water from a small bucket. Sure enough I knocked on the wrong door. Around another corner I finally found the right one which indeed opened. It was the back door of the restaurant where we’d eaten earlier. The waitress stared at us and was somewhat puzzled and said that she cannot easily sell water. She would need to talk to her father and owner of the restaurant first. She lead the way and walked us from the spacious house to a Yurt in the garden where she knocked but to no avail. Apparently the yurt is reserved for the father. I had seen it earlier and noticed at the time that it was even equipped with a TV antenna and that a TV was on inside. Meanwhile, the TV sound was replaced by mighty snoring and consequently no water could be sold to us.

27 August 2013

Tashkent is so different than what I had imagined. It is spacious, very well maintained, features gigantic ex-socialist palace architecture, exuberant gardens, huge monumental representative buildings, gates, fountains, sculptures and magnificent flower beds. The Chorsu market was also very interesting, hawkers there place their goods on old prams, apples are imported from Japan and show intentionally ingrown symbols, shashlik spits are roasted at each corner and then of course also tea is sold everywhere.

26 August 2013

My trip continues from Latvia to Uzbekistan. At the airport a young man comes up to us at the gate and without greeting us says ”…well then again we hope that the Islamic world will not collapse in the next 14 days! You’re also traveling to Uzbekistan?” I thought well obviously why would one sit at the gate announcing a flight to Tashkent if one were to go elsewhere. And of course I thought oh my, I have just left Munich a few says ago and there he is, the next madman, that’ll be fun. I look at him somewhat sympathetically. Only then my eyes fall on the book my travel companion, Hamed Abdel-Samad: The downturn of the Islamic world. And then of course it turned out that the person is the tour guide…

25 August 2013

Excursion to Jurmala, a beach town at the Latvian Baltic coast. What is striking are the many fat birds, some extremely disheveled, others just a bit crazy. Some of the latter are on their mobile phones while they are in the ice-cold water, others just walk the hard sand in their high-heeled stiletto shoes. In their pictures the shoes might feature much more central than the respective ladies wearing them as they hold it in front of their faces whenever their partner snap pictures. So as to whether the focus is on the shoes or the mostly platinum blonde framed faces is often difficult to say. And yes, I liked that dogs on and smoking are prohibited at the beach.

Otherwise, the coastline is extensive, not all that spectacular and different from the Jurmala I visited about ten years ago, mainly due to the fact that now the summer season is in full swing and back then I just saw it in the quiet autumn. A number of new and impressive buildings have replaced the holiday homes from socialist times. But still there are the amber traders and their stalls on the main street of Maiori. And then there’s this special light, everything is clear, the farthest things seem to close and already shortly after noon there are long shadows and reflections.

24 August 2013

I’m sitting on a terrace in a very nice restaurant in Riga, staring at a goldfish bowl. Is it really true that the goldfish has halfway through the glass already forgotten that he pulls the same old rounds? Somehow it seems probable. And not just goldfish. Come to think of it I seem to know quite some people who seem to have forgotten where they have started from after less than half a round. Most of them are not as pretty to look at as the goldfishes, though.

23 August 2013

Holidays! Today I flew to Riga. The last time I have been to Riga was about 10 years ago. It has changed a lot. Back then there were hardly any restaurants and now it is a vibrant, yet unpretentious town. Bars and restaurants are on every corner and there is live music everywhere you go. Music seems to have a special significance in the Baltics. I did not realize then, but there has been a singing revolution over here. Talking about music: I would have loved to see a place called Ginger&Fred, playing music from the 1930-ies but unfortunately it has closed down.

What else is there to say? Flowers, yes, flowers are as ubiquitous as music. Flower stalls are open even after midnight and each stall has more, more perfect or more beautiful roses, sunflowers and dahlias than the next.

The famous city market with its five huge, aircraft hangar-like halls is still there, too and just as I remembered it. One hall is dedicated to meat, one to fish, the next fruit and vegetables, then one to bread and finally one to cheese and milk. Especially the milk hall I find extraordinary. Cream is still offered form grandma’s jars and the fresh cheese is a delight. And yes, there is still the heartbreaking image of the odd old women selling plastic bags.

19 August 2013

I found THE new sport for me and tried it for the first time yesterday. It is called stand-up paddle surfing. When I told a friend about it earlier today I was told that he knew a family who had once owned a piece of land at the very lake where I had tried the paddle surfing. The grandfather was a farmer and had decided to swap the piece of land at the border of the lake with another one a bit higher up, the reason being that he always had to get the cows out of the water. The family still regrets that exchange to this date. I can understand them all too well. Prices there are skyrocketing and it would have been cocktails and a butler instead of sunken cows at some point in time… But I like the picture of saving cows from drowning. Today come to think of it you’d just need a few standup paddling (SUP) boards for those cows. Put a cow on a SUP and it would feel like Jesus walking on water. Or rather a modern-day-Jesus-with-a-walking-cane feeling.

14 August 2013

To travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive – Robert Louis Stevenson

13 August 2013

I may be prone to melancholy at the transience of things but today I almost could not believe my eyes when I saw today that the artificial beach cum bar at the Cornelius Bridge near my house was just being demolished. Only last Monday, I had been there (for the first time) and (again for the first time in over a year) felt like myself again. They will perhaps build up something similar again next year but somewhere new, at another spot entirely.

12 August 2013

Check out my friend Margit’s new website here!

10-11 August 2013

Two different experiences entirely: being in a photography workshop one day and in a canoe paddling down the Isar river the other day.

9 August 2013

Again and again we find that other people simply do not stick to the script that we had written for them. – Frank Berzbach

8 August 2013

So this is what happens if you miss out on the Latin… Just watch Peter Cook’s monologue experiences down the mine: “Yes, I could have been a judge but I never had the Latin, never had the Latin for judging, I just never had sufficient of it to get through the rigorous judging exams. They’re noted for their rigour. People come out staggering and saying: My god, what a rigorous exam! And so I became a miner instead…”

7 August 2013

Made apricot jam today and missed great company.

Received quite some comments on that one, not bad for a one line entry! Perhaps So I see people are envious of that jam for all sorts of reasons.

6 August 2013

Outside I assume the temperature is about 35 degrees Celsius. I sit in my office and am totally covered, wearing two sweaters, a fleece jacket and a scarf, actually a head scarf. There is a freezing draft from above and underneath and from the side. I am the only one who seems to be cold. The others laugh or simply cannot understand how one can just not love air-conditioning. On even said I look like a Nomad with my headscarf.

5 August 2013

Somehow this advertisement reminds me a lot of real life. All it takes is to push a (red) button to add drama…

4 August 2013

I was discussing middle names with a friend the other day. Personally I do not have a middle name but would somehow fancy one. So my fiend said I could have is middle name John which would then make me somehow MJ Brandl, or, as always when it comes to twisting my name around, preferably MJ Brando.

3 August 2013

What a “cheerful” line in a colleague’s e-mail address line: ‘I considered and observed on earth the following: The race doesn’t go to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor food to the wise, nor wealth to the smart, nor recognition to the skilled. Instead, timing and circumstances meet them all.’ Ecclesiastes 9:11

Received comment: Now you even quote the Bible and a rather unknown passage from the Old Testament, well, what can I say! Even the Sunday scholar in me had to look that up and then even found another quote for you: “…for a living dog is better than a dead lion”.

Answer: Ecclesiastes 9, 4: “For to him that is joined to all the living there is hope: for a living dog is better than a dead lion.” – well, if it were for me I would not necessarily stick to dogs.

2 August 2013

Never underestimate the interest of Guantanamo prisoners when writing modern day novels! 50 Shades of Grey seems to be preferred over other and even over religious books these days. And in London the fire brigade needed to adapt their statistics due to the novel, which seems novel to me as well.

1 August 2013

PA Charlotte’s weekly fashion column: My favourite summer drink now is a gin & tonic with Monkey 47 German gin and cucumber, with a dash of pepper. This got me thinking. Do drinks and fashion go together? A gin & tonic, or even a vodka martini, implies to me more formality and hence a business skirt suit with high heels. Whereas a gin fizz or a Pimms might be best combined with a floaty summer dress, perhaps in chiffon or silk, and wedge heels. The trendy Moet & Chandon Ice flute with orange zest needs a white flowing dress with orange pumps and handbag and large black sunglasses. When reading Cosmopolitan magazine, must one drink its namesake cocktail (vodka, triple sec and cranberry & lime juices)?

What would go with a tequila sunrise or a Manhattan cocktail? Or with a mini skirt? Readers thoughts are welcome….!

And what is the best C-level power dressing drink for women, assuming it is whisky for men? My preference year round is Cointreau with ice but then again I am a PA!

25 July 2013

PA Charlotte’s weekly fashion column: I love shopping! It’s a female gene! And I love both high street and designer outlet shopping, but for different reasons. Going into a Dior high street store in a major city is almost a religious experience: I am swept away on a tide of passion and end up after many hours with one pretty impractical dress and non-matching heels, and no money left. A designer outlet is more about cold atheistic logic: there are lots of very well priced clothes, and you devise a strategy to buy as many as possible (often with for example several skirts of a very similar look…) as quickly as possible and then you leave. What fun!

24 July 2013

There just isn’t such a thing as seclusion and privacy in public. In my short lunch break in the park a dog scared me to death. The dog did definitely not meet me eye to eye but, as usual, was far above me: I’m stretched out reading, the dog leans over me and gives me his most dangerous stare. Now as I can no longer sit and concentrate on my reading, dog number two lags up to me. Dog number two is beige colored, or rather has the color of white bread soaked in milk, limps, has a number of pus-filled wounds at the joints and tries to keep up with an old chap whose skin looks like leather. The leather gentleman sports some worn dark gray panties and demands my mobile phone. I point to the dog. He says the dog is harmless and now I should lend him my phone, because he has seen an ad for an apartment and now needs to ring the landlord. So it is dog against mobile phone. God, I’m so easily impressed in such circumstances. So the dog was instructed to sit at a respectful distance and I kept wondering whether this apartment he rang for had a balcony at last?

21 July 2013

Why one is in need of a balcony? Well, three short reasons: dogs, exhibitionists and other lunatics. Where to start? It is summer and I mean a hot summer. So without a balcony one is forced to go outside. And so as soon as one finds a decent spot in a park, dogs are never far. Munich seems to be a paradise for the odd dog and leashes are definitely not en vogue anymore. So I fought off five dogs from my blanket before an Italian approached me, asking whether he could sunbathe near me. In the nude. Him, not me. This is a Munich thing, it seems you can strip naked almost anywhere in the parks. So I said I did not know but guess it would not be forbidden. Two minutes later he came over again, handed me a camera and asked me to take a picture. There is no such thing as privacy in public places… A little later I sit on a bench and on the bench beneath me someone speaks very loudly on a phone. Only when I noticed I was being rudely offended by him I noticed there has not been a phone involved. I need a balcony. Desperately.

19 July 2013

PA Charlotte’s weekly fashion column: It is far too hot. But the fashion calendar waits for no woman! Autumn and winter collections are upon us. Check patterns and floral motifs on coats seem to be back along with clunky shoes. Gloves are making a welcome return. My 1998 wardrobe is in danger of being ‘in vogue’ again!

17 July 2013

The latest trend in Munich seems to be requiring children to wear reflective vests when out and about on a kindergarten excursion. And so more and more often one witnesses small and medium groups, accompanied by up to 5 grownups, that look like really, really junior road maintenance staff.

12 July 2013

Funny or Serious? Most of the time I’m a combination of the two, dear – Furious. Mrs Stephen Fry (Edna Constance Bathsheba Fry) in Veronika Asks: Author Interviews

11 July 2013

Surface is an illusion, but so is depth. David Hockney

10 July 2013

Back from Italy I find myself in the company garage without a badge on me to get into the building. I approach a colleague and slip in together with him mumbling that I was sorry I had forgotten my badge and all. He looks at me disapprovingly asking: Is your name by any coincidence Snowden? I say sorry, that is by far too secret to disclose.

9 July 2013

On my way back from Italy the car beeped and wanted a new light bulb. One and a half hour later I was good friends with Ossi from the service station who had by then almost destroyed the car. He handed me two seemingly superfluous parts which he could not fit under the hood anymore and sent me off to a garage. There I agreed that one should only touch these things if one was a specialist. The specialist then took another 50 minutes to fit in the bulb and the parts which held it in place.

4 July 2013

Remarkable quotes: Even with the best of intentions, it would be surprising if they now were to consider proposing ideas that they opposed just a year ago.

3 July 2013

PA Charlotte’s weekly fashion column: Escada never fails to deliver – it’s a timeless brand. The summer Sport collection of short and long floaty dresses and flouncy skirts in lemons and peaches and limes and pinks and lilacs looked lovely. Well cut and meeting their ‘sensual femininity’ ambitions. Their perfumes complement their clothes wonderfully. Personality profiling at its best.

This augurs well for the autumn and winter collection of suits and coats. Hopefully darker colours (deep grey and purple and burnt orange) and stricter tailoring with kick pleats on the business suits. And fishtail style skirts will please make a comeback – an ideal maritime match for Escada’s Marine Groove perfume!

Perhaps for my own outfit, I would add to this combination some fishnet stockings and sea green nail varnish.

26 June – 2 July 2013

Have been on the road quite a bit, from June 26th to 28th in Brussels, then Austria, briefly again Munich, Berlin and soon I will be off to Italy.

23 June 2013

„I believe the potential for increasing stupidity is limitless.“ Bernhard Heinzlmaier, expert on yourth culture

21 June 2013

PA Charlotte’s weekly fashion column: Punctuality. Being too late in completing important tasks can have grave consequences with a demanding boss. The answer? Invest in a good reliable watch. Make sure to get a model which is elegant (such as a Swiss Rado) in a ‘timeless’ sort of way. Something which fits with most outfits. But beware! Time can fly by while you admire your lovely watch as the challenging tasks build up. Those consequences are then unavoidable! It is a pity Einstein’s relativity theories could not help stretch time in the office. I confess to not understanding the space-time continuum. But my watch may well demonstrate relativity – sadly, it knows to go slowly when there is filing or typing, and to go quickly when I doze off or read Italian Vogue. And my annual holidays seem to disappear at light speed into a black hole.

Received comment: “Would Charlotte’s fashion column approve this fashion accessory?

I already thought it would not be all too popular with her but apparently she is appalled! Her comment: C is outraged by this item. They are ugly and should be burnt in bulk. The way to deal with perverts is (a) legal proceedings and (b) modest yet elegant skirts or trousers.

18 June 2013

“Too much work consists of circulating information that isn’t relevant about subjects that don’t matter to people who aren’t interested.” – Quote from Yes, Minister.

17 June 2013

I parked my bicycle at a spot for motorcycles and got a ticket in which I was kindly requested to note that I am not a motorcycle.

14 June 2013

Meeting quotes: There are pros and cons but great uncertainties remain.

Also quite remarkable when it comes to quotes: Under pressure, inaction is more likely than action.

12 June 2013

It is always interesting to hear people say that they are presently pointing out their current and not their ultimate position.

9 June 2013

“More often than not, things and people are as they appear.” – Malcolm Forbes

8 June 2013

PA Charlotte’s weekly fashion column: Does the pinafore dress deserve to make a stronger comeback? Its origins were plain colours, practical, often for school teachers, secretaries or shop assistants. But brighter colours for the dress and playing with shortening or lengthening the hem length of the skirt, coupled with a pretty pussybow blouse, could give it a whole new modern feel. Why are our brilliant young designers not looking at this? Maybe there is too much nostalgia around for maintaining the happy memories of youth. My own memories of wearing an old style pinafore dress in the office are of colleagues laughing and asking me if I had lost my way to kindergarten! And of the silly-looking ‘elevator girls’ in Japanese department stores with high pitched voices along with short pink pinafore smocks and tiny hats!

7 June 2013

Sometimes I reckon that pure luxury is something very simple, i.e. being absolutely at ease in order to do one thing at a time and attending 100% to that one thing instead of being in two conference calls at a time whilst skimming through 10 e-mails and attending one’s attention to a million other things as well.

6 June 2013

You will be pleased to note that on May 29th this year the German Rindfleischetikettierungsüberwachungsaufgabenübertragungsgesetz ceased to exist and so with this piece of legislation one of the longest German words will not be used that much anymore.

5 June 2013

This is how beautiful it can be when things are taken apart. One does wonder as to whether Aristotle was really right when he said that “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” He might have reflected on that after seeing this pictures.

4 June 2013

On my way to London. Will have meetings at an obscure place that nobody knows, is allowed to know or has access rights to. What seems to be taken from a Dan Brown novel involving at least some sort of conspiracy, biohazard or other life-threatening experience is in fact just a very nice office.

3 June 2013

PA Charlotte’s weekly fashion column: Continuing the eastern theme. Asian fashion and fabrics are often delicate and feminine and understated. But they can be brash and bold. Just look at the creative energy of the Japanese youngsters in Harajuku. The layers of colour and cloth could offer all sorts of disguises. A rather over-dressed bankrobber perhaps? Or nun turned punk? Maybe a businessman showing off his creative side? Or the shy schoolkid becoming a ‘riot in pink’? Not recommended for wearing in the office though!

1-2 June 2013

Switzerland has its charms I must say. Went to Winterthur which has its hidden quirkiness. A red cat in front of a window displaying a human skull for instance or a meadow with camels! And yes, we are talking about Switzerland!

31 May 2013

“Please send bullet points, no text just bullets!” There could not be a simpler task really:

Received comment:

  • Here’s a free bullet point….
  • Here’s another free bullet point….
  • Here’s another free bullet point….
  • Here’s another free bullet point….
  • Here’s another free bullet point….
  • I hope this will do.

28 May 2013

What has become of this world? The following is nowadays seen as an “opportunity”: “Try to (re-)tweet at least one tweet a day.” That important call for redundancy is then followed by the next important call for action: “You can repeat important in-house announcements multiple times (different moments of the day / week)”.

27 May 2013

PA Charlotte’s weekly fashion column: It is about time to make a fashion prediction! Just as business and culture is looking to the East, so too will fashion…. Take the body-hugging and colourful silk Chinese cheongsam or qípáo, for instance, as made famous by the 1950’s Shanghai actress Suzy Wong. They can be worn in the office in plainer colours at knee length and in the evening at ankle length in dazzling hues of all colours. They flatter most figures. Try one now!

26 May 2013

A quote from a story I recently read online: “Five frogs are sitting on a log. Four decide to jump off. How many are left? Five, because deciding is different than doing.”

25 May 2013

The shorter the speech the deeper the thought. – Inaccurately translated from German.

24 May 2013

After only two days in Leipzig I get the feeling one could spend days and days here discovering new aspects of quarter like the Plagwitz district with its old factories in various states of decay. Especially liked the cotton mill.

23 May 2013

Courage stands at the beginning of the action, luck at the end – Demokrit quoted in huge letters atop of a house in Dresden.

22 May 2013

I am fascinated by Dresden’s beauty. It has quite a skyline and is so unlike other city center areas with nothing but shopping malls and the like.

20 May 2013

PA Charlotte’s weekly fashion column: Do you find half your day taken up with audio conference calls with colleagues around the world? Unless you are speaking, or the topic is really interesting, it is very hard to stay alert. I find that multi-tasking is vital in these circumstances, something that women are good at. I will listen attentively of course – but in the meantime, though I could get on with on-line travel and hotel bookings, and finish typing any briefing papers, I probably will not! The latest Jimmy Choo and Christian Laboutin heels are worth an internet browse, as are the latest skirts which seem to have lots of flounces and pleats this year in bold colours. This also means I need to get on with my ‘in office’ exercise system, with sit ups and leg bends to keep me trim, along with throwing things across the office into the waste bin! I may even make a coffee as the machine is within earshot. And of course, sometimes paint or file my nails if the call is unusually dull and lasts into my lunch break…

19 May 2013

It’s easy to destroy, but difficult to create. Just ask any great deity. Quoted from: A year of fortunes (without cookies).

17 May 2013

From the series of “meeting quotes”: My English does not become better when I am thinking. Or singing.”

Or: Three is what you can count with your fingers when you cut away two of them.

And this time shamefully quoting myself and I guess with that it is really time for a holiday: No, I have not seen any new non papers.

16 May 2013

Fame and fortune will come to you, relatively speaking. Quoted from: A year of fortunes (without cookies).

11 May 2013

Street art in Germany: I especially like the sandbox and the alternative bicycle tram!

10 May 2013

PA Charlotte’s weekly fashion column: Jewellery is very individual. Taste and style vary even more enormously that for clothes or shoes or hairstyles. Jewellery can of course also be very expensive, especially if you try to coordinate your earrings, bracelets, necklaces, watches, rings etc with your outfit day on day. Some jewellers (see Brazilian Amsterdam Sauer’s example one and two) however offer delicate and elegant multi-coloured jewellery and at fairly modest cost. These suit almost any outfit from glamorous evening wear to colourful weekend and beach outfits. I personally draw the line though at wearing such jewellery in the office: black/grey business suits and shoes and white/pastel blouses really benefit best from under-stated silver items.

But bear such multi-functional colourful offerings in mind. They look great without emptying your purse! Unless of course you are very rich or have a rich spouse……but securing one of the latter is beyond the remit of this column!

9 May 2013

As Inspirational Jimmy already said: Inspiration is better than being outside of spiration. So have a look at this amazing project on reviving the collodion process!

6 May 2013

Travel advise for London (and this is no joke but is attributed to some written instructions): Hailing a taxi in the street is quite easy, if you don’t mind waving your arms at a black cab.

5 May 2013

Blue Ocean Approach:

  1. What can you do without? ELIMINATE
  2. What can be reduced? REDUCE
  3. What needs to be raised? RAISE/RETAIN
  4. Are there things missing? What needs to be created? CREATE

4 May 2013

A weekend in Vienna.

2 May 2013

PA Charlotte’s weekly fashion column: The weather has been so ‘up and down’, and warm and cold, and wet and windy. Often on the same day. It has been almost impossible to know what sort of coat to wear without getting it all wrong. This is where the humble trench coat comes into its own. Things have moved on from the ugly dirty brown Inspector Colombo variety! The coat keeps you dry and is lightweight. And the new styles in shiny materials such as by Burberry are lovely, and can match any outfit. I prefer the longer flared styles with a nice tight belt and coordinated boots. Don’t leave home without one!

29 April 2013

From the series of “meeting quotes”: It is hard to find people who are both eloquent and have something to say.

27 April 2013

Once more on chocolate and bunnies: The native inhabitants of Nicaragua paid for goods with cocoa beans rather than gold and silver. Later the Spaniards also bought goods with this currency. A rabbit cost 10 cocoa beans, a slave cost 100.

26 April 2013

“Before you can make a dream come true, you must first have one.” – Ronald McNair

24 April 2013

PA Charlotte’s weekly fashion column: How far should one go in coordinating your outfits? The right shoes with the right skirt, yes. The right blouse with the right skirt, yes. Handbags and earrings and gloves all being color and style and impact coordinated might be acceptable, though expensive. But matching accessories could possibly go too far. Only wearing gold or silver jewelry for instance with gold or silver zips on your jacket is on the edge but probably not too obsessive. But making sure your partner wears a turquoise tie if you are in a turquoise gown, or a matching pinstripe suit for your office wear, may be a step too far.  And having your partner have the same lovely blond hair highlights as you would be extreme! Where could this all end up? Image cloning could become a trend maybe?

Received comment: ‘Every day, my tie matches her dress’

Received comment: ‘Experience: I’ve worn the same outfit as my husband for 35 years’

23 April 2013

I saw this amazing show “Dummy 2.0” today in Berlin. It is hard to describe the show as such, it is a vaudeville show with video projections, dance, acrobatics and quite a number of mannequins. Impressive it was!

21 April 2013

There are days like this I suppose where one is getting up to the sounds of a swing radio station called “Martini in the Morning” in order to behead a chocolate Easter bunny.

Received comment: I guess it is OK to behead a chocolate Easter bunny. Been there. Done that. No big guilt thing.

20 April 2013

From the series of unsatisfactory dialogues: In front of a futuristic looking stage: A: So what is going to happen here? B: Nothing anymore, it has already happened.

19 April 2013

I am absolutely fascinated by Sebastião Salgado’s work. He currently exhibits pictures of his project “Genesis” in the National History Museum in London. All pictures are in black and white and monumental. The project has taken him 8 years to complete, travelling the world. He started on the Galápagos Islands in 2004, and went then from Siberia and Antarctica to the jungles, deserts and mountains of Asia, Africa and South America. He went to the untouched regions of this planet, taking pictures of seemingly unreal landscapes, animals and indigenous peoples.

Genesis is also the title of a coffee table book. There is a special edition limited to 100 copies, a hardcover book that comes with a book holder and a signed print. It is 46.8 x 70 cm big and costs 7.500 Euro. I was tempted.

18 April 2013

From the series of “meeting quotes” – and you will remember my all time favorite: “Let me repeat it for repetition’s sake!”: “They’re just like me, they don’t bring much value to the organization!” and another one: “If you don’t know that much you do a better job!”

17 April 2013

Photoshop allows you to do crazy things but this is just hilarious: sports balls replaced with cats.

And, being in London today: There is a Live Blog for Thatcher’s funeral. Isn’t that slightly odd or a contradiction in terms? Can you be dead live or actively buried? At least there will be “a private cremation after a ceremonial funeral”.

16 April 2013

Fun Infographic asks: So, You Wanna Be a Professional Photographer?

11 April 2013

PA Charlotte’s weekly fashion column: Summer is coming… allegedly! White designer jeans are a staple for social occasions or holidays – but frankly they should only be worn if one is tall and has the right trim silhouette. A skirt is of course much more forgiving of varying shapes, but you can’t wear skirts all the time (even though my boss prefers that…..). The jeans should be: (a) of boot cut variety with the tips of the high heels – not white! – just peeping under the fabric; (b) coupled with a colorful blouse e.g. of salmon pink or powder blue satin to add a splash of dash and color along with a powerful designer handbag; and (c) allied to a longer style haircut loosely worn or even in a French twist. White jeans can get terribly dirty so one must never travel on public transport. And never eat things which can color or stain if spilt. Indeed it is best not to eat at all when wearing them. That will of course help the silhouette issue. On the subject of ‘jean skirts’, I have to say that I am not a fan. They are not as smart as more formal skirts and they are not as casual as ‘trouser jeans’. They are sort of ‘in between’. Don’t wear them.

Received comment: I want to see Charlotte in a jean skirt…

Received comment: I am certainly learning a lot about fashion. I too want to see Charlotte dressed in her finest. I can’t imagine what she would think of my wardrobe.

10 April 2013

Is the following statement an expression of “pragmatism 2.0” or just “back to basics”? “Achieve essential, and then worry about excellent.”

Received comment: I say “Strive for the excellent, and the essential will take care of itself…”

9 April 2013

Beware of people who speak for 15+ minutes in order to come to a point where they say something along the lines of “I guess my point is” or “I guess the point I am trying to make is” followed by another 15 minutes of monologue.

7 April 2013

Finally all the pictures from my world trip are online!

Received comment: Love your pictures! Brilliant!!

6 April 2013

Oh I love red. I’m very loyal to my colors. I love violet! Elizabeth Taylor, 1932-2011

Received comment: Lilac, lavender and violet are my favourite colours!

4 April 2013

A rather interesting approach on redrawing the map of Europe has appeared in the Economist.

3 April 2013

PA Charlotte’s weekly fashion column: I have fallen hopelessly in love with this coat and boots ensemble. Even though it may seem somewhat evil queen or witch chic! They are by a Korean designer, Lie Sang Bong. True ‘gangnam style’ indeed – and somewhat more elegant than the admittedly hypnotic song and dance involving a plump man called Psy in a lime green dinner jacket and two-tone shoes! Just look at the hooped edging on the beautifully tailored floor length black coat; and the pink lining is just such a lovely contrast. I think the feisty boots complement the outfit perfectly. But sadly, I cannot afford to travel to the Gangnam-gu district of Seoul to buy them straight away. Life is so cruel! Where is my fairy godmother – or even the evil queen – when I need her help?

2 April 2013

And once more we have moved offices – this time we have moved into our final destination which is based on the hot desk concept. So one does not have an assigned permanent desk anymore but occupy then unoccupied soil on an hourly or daily basis. Unfortunately, there is no parking garage like system with green lights above unoccupied tables. The good news is that each table is equipped with a red card printed on both sides. It reads “Please do not disturb” in both English and German and features a pictogram as well for people who do not speak the said languages or are visional impaired (I trust the sign is not meant for the occasional analphabet). I somehow started to like this new concept. I can show the red card to myself when I find myself speaking too loud on the phone, when I start working on my own nerves or when I am disturbing myself in any other way. Showing the card to others would be rude. When seeking my desk, and I do have an assigned desk I should say because where there is a rule, there is also an exception to that rule, I orientate myself on two chocolate Santas who are standing on a trolley that I need to pass. They turn their backs to me and are beside one of the “Do not disturb!” signs. Next to them there are a few chocolate Easter eggs. What will I do if all that disappears, where will be the common thread?

Received comment: Liked your moving office piece. Rather amusing.

1 April 2013

Fortunately there were no anonymous calls and letters this year a propos April’s fool day. Last year’s jokes were cruel enough and are pretty present in my memory.

31 March 2013

Broken Muses wishes Happy Easter!

27 March 2013

Is it really so that in the end opting-in and opting-out amounts to the same result? If I am not a particular morning person and I opt-in to getting up is that in the end better as opting out of staying in bed and hitting the snooze button for one more time? Is there a difference in refusing a second cup of coffee or deliberately not asking for one? Does opting-in feel better than opting out? Is it a question of politeness in case others are affected and a mere question of free will for decisions you take for yourself?

25 March 2013

PA Charlotte’s weekly fashion column: Why do women fare less well still in the workplace than men? In job and pay terms? Things are variable around the world but it is still a problem in most places. I am sure this is a combination of out-moded ideas of a woman’s place in society and of historic notions of femininity. How can things move forward faster? In my case, I was well educated but it seemed easier to move into well paid PA work in the retail, publishing and fashion sectors. It also gave me easy access to the latest styles!

But what if things moved too fast? It would be rather distressing to wear a pretty skirt (like the lady in the picture – link broken Feb 2014) rather than tailored trousers if all the men were underneath the glass ceiling looking up! Or if it was the men in dresses; and all the women in suits! We would probably then quickly realize it is all about how we see ourselves through social custom rather than through the perceived barriers of nature.

Received comment: Maybe the lady standing on top of the desk looking up at the glass ceiling needs to toss a chair through the ceiling…?

24 March 2013

New pictures online from Zanzibar, South Africa, Nepal, Bhutan, Laos, Cambodia, Sri Lanka and Hong Kong!

Received comment: Saw your new pictures. Superlative work, as usual, my friend!

Received comment: I am fascinated by your pictures!

23 March 2013

I read somewhere that Karma points are dispersed unexpectedly over decades. How unfair.

Received comment: On Karma points and having to waiting for them?

Patience is like chocolate.

You can never have enough.

(Christelle Heurtault)

From a piece of paper wrapped around a piece of chocolate.

22. March 2013

According to Forbes there are 17 counterintuitive things the most successful people do. My favorite one is: “Repeat Mistakes – enough times until you really learn the lesson.  Sometimes, mistakes do need to be repeated if the payoff is big enough.  We hardly ever learn anything truly worthwhile after one try.” Although I also liked “Purposely offend” and “play possum”.

Received comment: How about “pre-emptive revenge”?

21 March 2013

From the series “there you go”: The prison Alcatraz was closed down on March 21, 1969.

20 March 2013

Tales from Absurdistan: The toast is not burning but the rain is pouring. In front of Gare du Nord station in Brussels is a juggler who juggles obliviously with three burning torches.

19 March 2013

From the series “there you go”: Kiss means “small” in Hungarian.

18 March 2013

Believing that your actions matter is how the human mind learns optimism.

17 March 2013

In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. But in practice, there is. Yogi Berra

Received comment: A British delegate to some EU committee outlines his country’s proposals, which, being British, are typically pragmatic, sensible and detailed. The French delegate reflects noddingly on them for a considerable period of time, before delivering judgment: ‘Well, I can see the plan will work in practice, but will it work in theory?’ as retold by Julian Barnes.

16 March 2013

Only a brief comment from the editor because I am more and more often asked as to whether I have changed and would be increasingly interested in fashion: The clear answer is: no. The weekly fashion column is a guest post from a third party, who in my opinion aligns beautifully with the core topic of broken muses. It is inspired by a different kind of muses that inhabit a world that is at least as promising, inaccessible and veiled as the human expression in “my” broken muses.

14 March 2013

PA Charlotte’s weekly fashion column: Well, dear readers, what do you think of this hat? I have been invited by a wealthy friend to a high society wedding this weekend. Hence very nervous. I have a knee length red and grey A-line dress, and dark red court high heel shoes. But hats really are my downfall. How to get the coordination right? Will this one work? Am I as ‘mad as a hatter’? Please – help!

13 March 2013

Was just listening to a song called: My canary has circles under his eyes.

12 March 2013

On the other kind of elevator speeches or why home office isn’t as powerful as working at large corporate premises: The scene: One is waiting for an elevator. A rather good looking man, dress code consultant or better, approaches. One nods and says Hi. The elevator arrives. Out comes another man, dress code consultant hardly better, exchanging a line or two with the other one, then leaving. One enters the elevator. The good looking one radiates an intensive, incredibly good smell. One thinks that one can only say so much during a ride over 4 stories and so one says: You have a really nice perfume! The incredibly good smelling man now radiates a smile on top of his smell and says: Well, it’s a boutique series. It’s called French Lover.”

11 March 2013

I was told that if you hold a grudge and can’t let it go, that person is just renting a space in your head for free.

Received comment: I hope there also people that are renting a space in your head because you give it to them for free 😉 Because I know they let you occupy space in their head for free as well.

10 March 2013

In memoriam: A Love Letter from Emilie Blachère to Rémi Ochlik. The transcript can be found here (link broken – Feb 2014).

Received comment: I loved March 10ths blog entry!

Received comment: Heartbreaking, and you can feel every bit of it!

7 March 2013

PA Charlotte’s weekly fashion column: Many apologies to my readers for not blogging in the last 2-3 weeks – but of course I have been on holiday at the fashion shows in Milan, London and now Paris. It has taken every ounce of my ingenuity to get into the shows: for example, pretending to be a make-up artist, faking a journalists’ pass for Russian Vogue, wearing my very best Karl Lagerfeld clothes just to ‘look the part’, agreeing to a date with one of the few non-gay designers… It’s been quite a trip. I need a holiday!

The quality has been breathtaking at times. My favorite? It has to be Miu Miu in Paris. Just look at the extraordinary and beautiful detail here on the jackets, combined with elegant but flirty skirts. I cannot wait to get my hands on them. Whether my boss will think they are appropriate for the office is another matter…!

6 March 2013

The Austrian evergreen “Let’s (wait and) see” which can mean anything from yes/no/maybe/perhaps/eventually/rather no/rather yes/can’t be decided at this point in time/let’s postpone/let’s perhaps discuss it at a later stage/let’s never touch that subject again/don’t be angry with me/you can’t expect that from me/believe me, it’s better this way etc turns into “Let’s wait and see, then we’ll perhaps see clearer” in Bavaria.

Received comment: There was a Spaniard who was travelling in the islands. One evening over a dram he got talking to a local speaker of the Gaelic. Their common language was naturally English – even if delightfully accented. And so of course they got round to talking about the languages closer to their hearts. At one point the Spaniard mentioned the phrase “mañana, mañana”. The Gaelic speaker asked what that meant and he was told “maybe tomorrow, but probably not. Sometime in the future, possibly, even if not being at all clear when”. The Gaelic speaker thought for a while, then replied, “No, I do not think that we have anything in the Gaelic that conveys such a pressing sense of urgency”.

4 Mach 2013

New pictures online from Fiji and Hawaii!

28 February 2013

For some reason or other I was once again reminded of a number of shortcomings and disturbing news surrounding my name. My collection of misspellings contains so far: Brandes, Brandi, Branol, Brendl, Brendel, Brandle, Monsieur Margit Brandl, Martin Donald James (somehow remarkable), Margarita Brando (my favorite, could only be topped by Marlene Brando!), Brandl Marie, Margaret, Margrit, Merkit, Marget, Marlies, Margite, Margriet Brandel, Verena, Hanne Brandl and Margit Wandel (i.e. change).

Received comment: I like Verena best.

Received comment: And you forgot to mention your own name variation: Margitangela.

27 February 2013

The problem regarding heating persists. This time the neighbor’s flat is affected. Whenever I turn on the heat, there is some kind of heat in the neighboring flat as well but when it is turned down, the neighbor freezes. He tried lightening an average of 50 (!) candles in the evening but despite his efforts has not reached temperatures above 18 degrees centigrade, yet. The heating engineers are – and sadly enough that was to be expected – overwhelmed. They saw that the concierge (a tinkerer of the finest sort) has aimed at repairing one of the neighbor’s leaking radiators with a straw, fixed with some rubber band and leading the dripping water into a huge frying pan – and they were kind of fascinated. The property manager said that in the future they aim to rent out the two flats to couples only. Furthermore she suggested a common destiny approach and thinking about getting together. We could spend the better hours of the day in the warmer part of the two flats and the one who wants to sleep in a cool room can easily retreat later at night.

Received comment: Eleven out of ten for language? 😉 The heating engineers who were ** “overwhelmed”. I have heard of people being overwhelmed and more rarely underwhelmed. But the other day somebody just wrote that they had been “whelmed”. By the way I sort of remember a comedy thing where they took words that were almost always included a certain prefix and then either used them with the opposite prefix or “naked”. Now all I have to do is remember some! ** “kind of fascinated”. A lovely phrase! And then “the common destiny approach”. You are aware of “fate sharing” in engineering, maybe particularly network engineering?

25 February 2013

A classical Monday. We have moved offices. First thing in the morning is that I cannot find the new office. No chance. I meet a few colleagues who offer asylum (not permanently I assume). Finally I find it only to be locked out a few hours later. The ones that had offered asylum earlier become more and more skeptical. Again later in the day I attend a special gym class my doctor sent me to as he thinks I am not schwarzenegeeresque enough and could do with a few more muscles. The gym forms an integral part of an old people’s home. On the spot I discover that my gym pants have not made it into my bag. So I enter the gym in tights and incredibly ridiculous non-slip socks… I probably can’t go there again.

21 February 2013

Welcome back to Absurdistan: It is general strike in Belgium. Allegedly the metro service is not running at all or at least severely delayed. Actually, the metro system worked better than ever and the staff was cleaning the stations thoroughly – something I have never seen before.

20 February 2013

PA Charlotte is travelling and will not be blogging for a week or two.

19 February 2013

Quotes from the heart of Europe: We all speak Eurenglish over here much to the detriment of the native English speakers who generally don’t understand us at all but they’ll eventually get used to it.

18 February 2013

The most beautiful word in the world? Chocolate of course!

17 February 2013

Received comments:

“It is a sin to tell an untimely truth.” – The Church of Scotland. So at the ball all dresses are wonderful? And only years later, over a happy glass, can certain things be said? 😉

Please do ensure that the English and German language versions are in synch. Also am hoping for photos of PA Charlotte fully attired soon. Kate Moss

16 February 2013

For the first time in 100 years the so-called Viennese washer women’s ball was celebrated again. The decoration alone was worth seeing, clotheslines crisscrossing the premises of Gschwandner and on the clotheslines laundry in all colors. And then the visitors! A journey back in time, the grandchildren and great grandchildren of the washer women and the newspaper deliverers, all in appropriate dresses just like their ancestors. The women wore coarse linen dresses, skirts, crinolines and white hoods, the men were dressed in corduroy pants, suspenders and matching berets. My own interpretation of the whole was certainly a little strange – turquoise dress and my hair in an enormous bun. The music from the 1920ies and 30-ies was terrific, a pleasure, what can I say, a great ball!

15 February 2013

The Hotel Sacher in Vienna is really an institution. Allegedly the spa offers massages with chocolate as well as the matching shower gel, hair shampoo and body lotion containing chocolate. In summary one can assume that it is Sacher cake inside out.

14 February 2013

And again a week has passed and it is time for PA Charlotte’s fashion column:

Why am I addicted to pencil skirts? I particularly adore those skirts falling just below the knee or even sometimes to calf length, mainly in black or in a grey pinstripe style. They are rather tight and indeed quite uncomfortable, and very hard to walk in or to sit down in. Sheer stockings are therefore vital. Combining the skirt – as I often do – with a wide belt and with high heeled shoes or boots makes getting anywhere quickly very difficult! (See video). Don’t even try to run for a taxi if you are late for an appointment…. And climbing stairs or getting into a sports car can be a veritable nightmare.  But I have become convinced over the years that this is a quintessential part of the core attraction of fashion. Fashion is much more about how one is seen than how one feels. A pencil skirt for instance is smart, slimming, sexy; and accentuates your curves and gives you a great silhouette. It is almost always ‘on trend’, year in and year out. You look good – even if you do not feel so good.  And for many fashion-conscious women, including myself, that is an addiction well worth feeding over and over again.

7 February 2013

PA Charlotte’s thought of the day:

In the late 1970’s, Harmony Hairspray launched this campaign. Could such lovely natural flowing hair (link broken, Feb 2014) really be controlled by an artificial product? Well yes it could – and it would be accompanied by a wonderful life! In the next 30 years, it has become natural to be unnatural. And not always to advertise the fact. False sun tans. False lips and no wrinkles (via botox). Died hair of all colors – purple and blue streaks seem de rigeur currently! False finger nails and eyelashes and hair extensions. The market for newly sculptured bodies through plastic surgery has also exploded. Clothes now constrict and mould. Corsets are popular again. Is she or isn’t she? Often I have no idea, and in multiple ways. Bring back the Harmony Hairspray days! It was simpler then.

6 February 2013

PA Charlotte’s weekly fashion column:

With the ball season in full swing, most of us are wearing beautiful low cut strapless gowns. I know I will (see link – link broken, Feb 2014). These are very feminine. But they can also be very cold where one is exposed to the elements. Is there any way to avoid ‘frozen shoulder’? Well, you can wear a shawl or a small fur jacket. Or go for a high neck dress with long sleeves for a change. Or even insist – as I do – that a man keeps his arm around you all evening. Or you can even have warming linament rubbed into your skin (not recommended given the rather strong unpleasant smell, and the consequent need for more perfume). In the end, and this is almost always true – it’s probably best to realize that there is rarely gain without pain!

Received comment: Dear Charlotte, let an old bloke comment on that: Men are far too shy to just put an arm around a stranger’s shoulder and if so it would not do as any good. It’s not easy for women, oh no, but we men also bear some misery. Well, my advice then is to either bring your own man (BYOM) or to stock up on the go and instruct him carefully. It might be best to create a handbook well in advance.

Unfortunately my advice comes too late anyway as the ball season – at least in Catholic Bavaria – is now over. You can either go to Basel to celebrate carnival for 14 more days or you go to Vienna where the ball season seems to never really stop.

5 February 2013

Quotes from born communicators: At this point I do not need further messages.

3 February 2013

About a month ago I read an article about structured procrastination. Since then I have done a number of things I guess. Don’t ask me to name anything specific but I must have been up to something. At least that is what the theory suggests. Well at least I have read John Perry’s book “The Art of Procrastination: The Art of Effective Dawdling, Dallying, Lollygagging, and Postponing”. And I of course admired the picture on Perry’s website a number of times; the one where he practices jumping rope with seaweed. Which reminded me about seeing the one or other successful attempt at “worming” on the Australian beaches (see blog entry from 11 and 12 April 2011). Anyway, where was I? Ah yes, so I could not get around writing about this remarkable, adorable piece of work which will be self-explanatory as soon as you start reading about the man’s ideas which were triggered by Robert Benchley who said: “Anyone can do any amount of work, provided it isn’t the work he’s supposed to be doing at that moment.”

2 February 2013

Can you get into a state of deep relaxation just through listening to an overdose of Jack Johnson? I recommend Talk of the Town, Good People and of course Jungle Jim. Try Lullaby if you can’t resist another one. Samples can be heard here.

1 February 2013

The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it. – Michelangelo

31 January 2013

PA Charlotte’s weekly fashion column:

Today I feel like an ‘agony aunt’. My girlfriend Sylvie has a problem at her office (a law firm). Whilst she is always beautifully attired, her female boss is often quite badly dressed and has a poor manner with clients. She loves her job and does not want to leave, but how to deal sensitively with the situation?  My advice is below. Would you, the readers, have said the same? Or differently?

Charlotte’s advice to Sylvie was:

– She must not let her own standards slip: lead by example!  (As do I – note: link broken, Feb 2014)

– She should compliment her boss when she dresses well and remind her how much she liked the previous outfit when dressed less well: a sort of positive reinforcement!

– Bring in magazines for the office such as Elle, Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar: change through osmosis!

– Encourage a man friend or client that her boss likes to compliment her  when she is  well turned out: the psychological and sex angle!

– At the bosses birthday, and at Christmas, buy her a lovely scarf, bag or pair of gloves: stealthy bribery!  For example.

30 January 2013

You’d think that one would attend to a number of new hobbies in Munich such as drinking beer in vast quantities or hiking nearby mountains. Not in my case. My new hobby is bleeding radiators! That’s what I do in my flat mornings, afternoons and evenings. Mostly in vein though, as the heat is definitely not on since January 22.

29 January 2013

According to a friend who has just recently had a number of refreshing experiences, job interviews have quite a history it seems. So does YouTube obviously.

28 January 2013

I’m proud to add a lovely quote to my “meeting quotes” series: “Let me repeat it for repetition’s sake!”

25 January 2013

Day 3 of a complete blackout of the heating in my flat. I am already feeling quite hoarse and so I tried to flee the country in order to go to a better heated place in Austria. But well, what can I say? Traffic jams wherever you look. And I am once again reminded that the so-called quality of life in Munich is characterized through not having to stay in what some consider a metropolis but leaving the city instead in order to go somewhere else.

24 January 2013

Vogue won’t get her, so here we go again: PA Charlotte’s weekly fashion column:  ‘I am often asked how I maintain my ‘sustained elegance’ week on week? My girlfriends ask how I turn so many heads – male and female, young and old, alike – whether I am in London, New York, Paris or Milan? The answer of course is: (a) attention to detail; (b) expert coordination of outfits; and (c) keeping up with the latest trends. You might have a lovely blouse, skirt or dress but that means nothing if the accessories – shoes, hairstyle, jewelry, hat, handbag, coat and gloves – are wrong. So too fresh and pretty make-up.  The complete picture really does matter. For instance, if I am teetering along in a black leather pencil skirt and elegant white satin blouse to my office, I must get the gloves and shoes right and coordinated, particularly as the skirt makes such a powerful statement I think. Otherwise the ensemble simply does not work.  Like anything worthwhile in life, looking good and being fashionable takes real time and effort – but it is certainly worth it. And, like most women, I love to see those heads turning. Though I am in two minds about the ‘wolf whistles’!”.

23 January 2013

Among the many birthday wishes I received today there was one that I’d like to highlight here: Baz Luhrmann, Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen). My favourite lines from the lyrics are: “Remember the compliments you receive, forget the insults; if you succeed in doing this, tell me how. Keep your old love letters, throw away your old bank statements.”

22 January 2013

Reactions (or so to say a good management summary): “I have done a “moon walk” and browsed your blog for the last month or so and thought to myself: You’re getting on quite constructively with life: I see you’re photographing friends and hanging socks at parties, you’re thinking of a long list on increasing creativity, identify psychopaths already through their choice of profession and have your car being demolished on the 21st of  December, the Mayan end of the world. Thank God you did not try to remove any winter mosquitoes from your windshield at this inopportune point in time!

And so you’ve transported a thick red couch monster to Munich? Such monsters do not like being transferred and fight back very often. The hidden energies of such couches demand a lot of the backs of brave packers!”

21 January 2013

The Flemish National Theater in Brussels features a sentence – written in bold letters above it’s entrance: All problems can never be solved.

19 – 20 Januray 2013

“This is how life is,
One travels to Paris,
The other one doesn’t travel to Paris
That’s how life is”
Ja so ist das Leben, Josef Hader

18 January 2013

I was told that a poster in a bar in Verbier reminds one about one crucial: “The older I get the better I was”.

16 January 2013

PA Charlotte’s weekly fashion column: The ball season is upon us in Vienna. The settings are beautiful and ball gowns always very glamorous – but the tension and pressure is consequently always high. What should one wear this year? Should one go for tradition as here or for something a little more adventurous. I confess to losing a lot of sleep over this and to being in quite a quandary!!

15 January 2013

“As you get older your secrets are safe with your friends because they can’t remember them either.” Seen on a billboard in Panama last year.

14 January 2013

According to the author of a new book, there are actually some professions that attract psychopaths more than others, and civil servants (including politicians), lawyers and TV and radio people are among those ranking very high.

The list of the professions the author claims seem to have the most psychopaths are:

  1. Chief executive officer
  2. Lawyer
  3. Media (Television/Radio)
  4. Salesperson
  5. Surgeon
  6. Journalist
  7. Police officer
  8. Clergy person
  9. Chef
  10. Civil servant

On the other hand the author says that the evidence he found suggests the following professions as least attractive to psychopaths:

  1. Care aide
  2. Nurse
  3. Therapist
  4. Craftsperson
  5. Beautician or stylist
  6. Charity worker
  7. Teacher
  8. Creative artist
  9. Doctor
  10. Accountant

13 January 2013

Received comment. Webmaster warning regarding a recently received comment to the January 11 entry: Don’t put your hopes to high, this might be a hoax!

And so the comment reads: Dear Broken Muses: I think the fashion blog by PA Charlotte is creative and thoughtful in its feminine charm. Please offer her a regular column – before I do. Anna Wintour, Editor, Vogue

12 January 2013

Per aspera ad astram – what a nice saying and so true.

11 January 2013

From the adult education center’s recent catalog: “Masks – the second face” precedes a special course called “buckles – designed and made”. After the two the catalogue lists: “Picasso’s bulls in 3D”. If you are interested in sewing techniques, 3 modules are available – on a need to know basis I assume: Module 1: the seam, Module 2: the zipper and Module 3: the bag. Then it goes further with: “Easy Fit: Sewing my first fashion item” and, most likely for participants who failed Module 2: “Ruffled and folded: sewing my first fashion item without a zipper.” Also very nice and almost like in real life: “Felting for Beginners”, “Felting in the studio”, “Felting – listen to your heart” and or course the evergreen: “Free felting”.

Received comment: That catalog sounds Chinese to me…

10 January 2013

I got an invite to participate in the “EU Serious and Organized Crime Conference 2013”. It almost sounds as if crime is either serious or organized and that serious crime is per definition never organized and vice versa.

9 January 2013

Received comment: I would like to say that (a) this blog is updated too often and (b) it should not include a weekly fashion column. 🙂

Received comment: I am really interested in this red sofa which has been smuggled from Austria to Germany in a cloak-and-dagger operation.

8 January 2013

It seems that 2013 will be the year of ghost writers and occasional guest entries. This blog received the following contribution from Charlotte, PA in charge of almost everything: “Being a PA or secretary can be quite dull in fashion terms. The standard white blouse, charcoal pin-striped pencil skirt suit and sensible shoes might look smart – but it will not make you stand out in a crowd. Try spicing things up with a colourful satin bow blouse and an exciting print pencil skirt. Add a pair of black court stilleto’s (ideally with ankle straps) and you will be the ‘belle of the office’. This link offers a pretty idea.”

6 January 2013

My dad joined as a ghost writer for this blog and he suggests a somewhat longer and more accurate contribution to the January 1st entry, namely:

I’m out of bed as early as 3 a.m., as my friend Arno will be around in about an hour with a loaded trailer. To give you a bit of background: Margit has bought a new sofa at the big furniture store in Bruck. We had to clarify how to transport the bulky piece to Munich. So I phoned my friend Arno. Three hours later Arno was around to discuss details and dismissed all my (admittedly somewhat theatrical) concerns. Margit then went to Munich earlier than planned in order to check out as to whether the piece would fit into the apartment at all. It did, so the purchase was fixed and the red monster was to be on its way. On site we found that the furniture was too large for Arno’s big trailer. But Arno found a solution and put the long and lighter part into the trailer, the shorter but way heavier part into his car! After that Arno declared that the transport was due on the 1st of January with a departure time as early as 4 a.m.!!!

New Year celebrations were canceled. We hit the road as planned and after a quiet trip on empty roads we arrived at half past eight in Munich.

The long part did not fit in the elevator, so we had to carry it upstairs. The shorter part had to fit though. So we put it upright and made the experience that gravity triggers the mechanics and the inbuilt bed unfolded. This happened somehow halfway down in the elevator’s cabin and while Arno was still in that cabin. Only some muffled sounds made us believe he was still alive. From the bed to the cabin ceiling there were only 30 inches of space, but like a snake, Arno’s head and shoulders appeared and somehow he slid onto the ground. We had to admit that the piece would not fit into the cabin and so again we had to carry the piece upstairs.

5 January 2013

American scientists have found that the color of the universe is beige. Young stars are more blue, older ones tend to be reddish but on average the universe has the color of latte macchiato thus the hue is now called “Cosmic Latte”. Other suggestions for the color included Skyvory and Univeige.

4 January 2013

Tradition is not the worship of ashes, but the preservation of fire. Gustav Mahler

3 January 2013

I stumbled over this list of suggestions on the Internet and immediately liked it (not only for the coffee part but also).

33 Ways to Stay Creative

  1. Make Lists
  2. Carry A Notebook Everywhere
  3. Try Free Writing
  4. Get Away From The Computer
  5. Be Otherworldly
  6. Quit Beating Yourself Up
  7. Take Breaks
  8. Sing In The Shower
  9. Drink Coffee / Tea
  10. Know Your Roots
  11. Listen To New Music
  12. Be Open (to new ideas and ways of thought… all ways)
  13. Surround Yourself With Creative People
  14. Get Feedback
  15. Collaborate
  16. Don’t Give Up
  17. Practice, Practice, Practice
  18. Allow Yourself To Make Mistakes
  19. Go Somewhere New
  20. Watch Foreign Films
  21. Count Your Blessings
  22. Get Lots Of Rest
  23. Take Risks

Break The Rules

  1. Do More Of What Makes You Happy
  2. Don’t Force It
  3. Read A Page Of The Dictionary
  4. Create A Framework
  5. Stop Trying To Be Someone Else’s Perfection
  6. Got An Idea? Write It Down
  7. Clean Your Workspace
  8. Have Fun
  9. Finish Something

1 January 2013

Broken Muses wishes all readers a Happy, Great New Year!

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