24 – 26 December 2016
Broken Muses wishes a Very Merry Christmas!
9 December 2016
Both Germany and Austria have come up with their ‘word of the year’. In Germany it is what would translate roughly to ‘post-factual’, I believe in English the word is ‘post-truth’, not quite the same but there you go. The Austrian word of the year is ‘Bundespräsidentenstichwahlwiederholungsverschiebung’ which translates somehow to ‘postponement of presidential run-off ballot re-elections’ but is much better described here.
8 December 2016
‘The most courageous act is still to think for yourself. Aloud.’ – Coco Chanel
7 December 2016
‘You don’t learn from successes; you don’t learn from awards; you don’t learn from celebrity; you only learn from wounds and scars and mistakes and failures.’ – Jane Fonda
1 December 2016
While the website repair and general overhaul is still ongoing I thought I share something that really made me smile. The neighbouring supermarket is not a particular good one but its staff is really nice. When I could not find an item that I had really liked and asked for it, one of them said: ‘So we don’t have it anymore, do we? Because I am noting down people’s wishes. So you want us to have those good dates in our permanent choice and not just occasionally?’
21 November 2016
This website blog has unfortunately been seriously compromised and needs some repair…
24 October 2016
I have a colleague who is very knowledgeable but a bit how shall I say. His e-mails conclude with his name, phone number, e-mail address and other contact details and – at the very bottom – with the line: “The problem stops here!”. I could not agree more.
22 October 2016
The phone has been repaired! Allegedly the battery has lost its shape. It has gained in weight or volume or both over the years and pushed the phone’s outer shell to its limits. at some point it imitated the Hunchback of Notre Dame. With the new battery the hunchback magically disappeared. It is quite interesting that there are more and more devices on the market that use fixed, non-removable components. And at the same time a shadow industry of self-declared experts has emerged that specializes in repairing what can or should not be repaired through removing and fixing the non-removable components. Interestingly they achieve relatively good results.
20 October 2016
My beloved camera cum mobile phone (aka Nokia 1020) is ailing. It has blown up at the side and looks rather unhealthy. Getting it repaired is no easy affair. The trusted shop I had in mind and went to has obviously gone out of business. An undertaker (!) has taken up the premises instead.
16 October 2016
Back as a stranger in a strange land I had the chance to compare the three passports that have been issued on my behalf this year. I am building up a collection. I have to say that despite the stressful circumstances of getting the last one of them, this is by far the most appealing one. Also comparing the three different pictures one would not necessarily assume that it could possibly be the same person.
15 October 2016
What a relief, the Marmite crisis is resolved: “Marmite goes back on sale at Tesco as Unilever stand-off ends Supermarket resolves dispute over proposed price rises driven by the falling pound.”
14 October 2016
The passport has had a wonderful and assumingly comfortable train journey from Vienna. Although of course I do not know whether its heart has made an extra beat when he crossed the famous Semmering railway tunnels and viaducts. It descended nearby and arrived in a chauffeur driven car around midday. It looks splendid and all data is shown correctly. At the same time passport no 2 – which I had to declare invalid only yesterday – finally made it to good old Germany.
13 October 2016
How can we let the Brits go? I just loved this morning’s Financial Times headline: “Marmite shortage: The slump in the pound has triggered a Marmite shortage. The yeast-flavoured spread beloved by (some) Brits is missing from shelves in Tesco after the UK’s largest supermarket refused to accept a price rise from Marmite-maker Unilever following the drop in the pound.”
And well: I applied for a new passport. In a double express fashion. The passport will be produced today and sent via courier mail tomorrow. I was told that it is a known fact in Austria since February this year that registered letters to Germany have a tendency to disappear.
12 October 2016
Tales of a stranger in a strange land: This time: Murphy’s Law – or as a friend of mine once aptly put it: Margit is Murphy. I could not find my rather new passport (issued only in March this year and valid for 10 years). So I went to Austria to declare it missing. I applied for a new one.
The new passport was issued within a few days. My mother picked it up and sent it to me via registered mail. That was on Sept. 29. Meanwhile it is Oct. 12th and the passport has still not arrived. Both post administrations are very sorry and claim to be searching. The Austrian online tracing system states that the letter has left Austria for Germany on September 30th. The German tracing tool says that “The item arrived at the International Logistics Center in Germany on Sep 30, 2016.” – wherever that may be.
Since then – nothing.
So I issued international investigation requests on both ends. The Austrian request was immediately confirmed in an e-mail. The German one stated they would inform me in a letter (!) in case they had any news but also had the courtesy to point to the Treaty of Bern which foresees that in case of loss the sender has to address the postal administration of the country where the letter was mailed from. One has to note that the Treaty of Bern created the Universal Postal Union and was signed in 1874, at the time still by the German Empire and Austria-Hungary among others such as the Ottoman Empire.
Anyway, I am en route to Austria to apply for my third passport this year.
1 – 3 October 2016 – Vilnius
Some years ago the district of Užupis in Vilnius declared itself to be an independent republic. In this art project, a President was appointed, four flags – one for each season – were designed and a constitution was enacted at Parlament, the Café Užupio Kavinė. The constitution has been translated into many languages and is engraved on various mirrors which can be found attached to a wall on Paupio Street. It reads:
1. Everyone has the right to live by the River Vilnelė, and the River Vilnelė has the right to flow by everyone.
2. Everyone has the right to hot water, heating in winter and a tiled roof.
3. Everyone has the right to die, but it is not an obligation.
4. Everyone has the right to make mistakes.
5. Everyone has the right to be unique.
6. Everyone has the right to love.
7. Everyone has the right not to be loved, but not necessarily.
8. Everyone has the right to be undistinguished and unkown.
9. Everyone has the right to idle.
10. Everyone has the right to love and take care of a cat.
11. Everyone has the right to look after a dog until one of them dies.
12. A dog has the right to be a dog.
13. A cat is not obliged to love its master, but must help in time of need.
14. Sometimes everyone has the right to be unaware of their duties.
15. Everyone has the right to be in doubt, but this is not an obligation.
16. Everyone has the right to be happy.
17. Everyone has the right to be unhappy.
18. Everyone has the right to be silent.
19. Everyone has the right to have faith.
20. No one has the right to violence.
21. Everyone has the right to appreciate their unimportance.
22. No one has right to have a design on eternity.
23. Everyone has the right to understand.
24. Everyone has the right to understand nothing.
25. Everyone has the right to be of any nationality.
26. Everyone has the right to celebrate or not to celebrate his birthday.
27. Everyone shall remember their name.
28. Everyone may share what they possess.
29. No one can share what they do not possess.
30. Everyone has the right to have brothers, sisters and parents.
31. Everyone may be independent.
32. Everyone is responsible for their freedom.
33. Everyone has the right to cry.
34. Everyone has the right to be misunderstood.
35. No one has the right to make another person guilty.
36. Everyone has the right to be individual.
37. Everyone has the right to have no rights.
38. Everyone has the right not to be afraid.
Do not defeat! * Do not fight back! * Do not surrender!
1 September 2016
This blog did not see any updates in the last few months. But these days there was a piece of news worthwhile mentioning I thought. The idea of least intrusive means for a political statement – if you did not want to go easy and use words of course – used to be throwing a soft, creamy cake at a person. It seems that the idea of soft and creamy hence totally covered “caked” person was unknown to a young German activist who used a frozen cake instead.
13 May 2016
One of the most pressing issues is finally addressed: More women in significant jobs in emojis! I am happy this has not been done on April 1st, the significance would most likely have been questioned back then.
It is particularly noteworthy that there is a Silicon Valley not-for-profit group (Unicode Consortium) that runs an “emoji subcommittee” overseeing the creation of new emojis. I am also pleased to see that an “urgency to improve the representation of women in emoji” was recognized!
10 May 2016
A brief glimpse on my daily encounters: snake oil vendors, time optimizers, carpet dealers, people who would sell their own grandmother, blissful ignorants, people skillled in helplessness, wannabe gourmets and kindergarten children who love phrases like: I’m going to tell my mother – I’m going to tell your mother! – My mother is going to tell your mother!
8 May 2016
Finished reading Oliver Sack’s autobiography ‘On the Move’. What a great memoir, deep, thoughtful, honest, funny. I read some of his books when I was a teenager and now want to read them all again!
5 April 2016
My aunt’s funeral, a sad day. But I saw the abricot tree again! It used to have two blossoms when I planted it. Unfortunately one of them was lost in a a recent hail. It will take about three years I am told before I can expect a first, probably modest harvest.
31 March 2016
About the perfect storm: I was uncomfortable for no ovious reason this morning and for a good part of last night. Finally it dawned on me that I had parked in a rather bad spot last night. The spot is a parking place from time to time but not between 7 and 12 a.m. (tell me about parking in German cities…) when the nearby liquor shop gets its daily supply of what is mostly beer. This is Munich, the capital of beer – we must not forget that. So technically, in the mornings this is a no-go zone. Never mind that the shop only opens at 9, the beer supply will be there much earlier and eventually dropped in front of the shop where it sits happily waiting for the shop owner to take it up and fill its shelves. I remember about all of that just before eight o’clock. In my imagination the car is gone and on its way to another no-go zone, namely the place where towed away cars are hidden, an area that cannot be found on any map. In my slight panic the shower head eludes my hands and lands unhappily on my right foot. Walking is painful ever since. A bruise seems inevitable. I should note that for whatever mysterious reason, the car had not been towed away.
30 March 2016
I am rather impressed by the Austrian bureaucracy. Austrians have been warned that 2016 is not an average year. It is a year where many more passports expire than ever before. Hence one was told that passport production and processing would take much longer than the average 10-14 days. But surprise, surprise, contrary to my expectations – and despite or because of the miserable picture I should add – the identity card was delivered by mail (!) only five days after I had applied for it. And the passport followed only a day later. I was even called on my mobile to come and collect it at the consulate. Collcting it took less than a minute: two signatures, the devaluation of the old passport, and after 50 or 55 seconds I was out again. Respect!
26 March 2016
Tomorrow is Easter Sunday abd guess what? I found a tree to plant in my garden back home in Austria! It is an abricot tree and is not planted right where my grandmother’s abricot trees used to be. After years of ‘deforestation’ in this garden, I think the number of trees was reduced by about 90% over the past decades – finally there is a new tree again. So happy!
20 March 2016
On how advance planning can be detrimentally time consuming: I need a new passport. There are quite some hurdles when you apply for an Austrian passport abroad. You need to present a whole staple of documents including a registration card that must have been obtained within the two weeks prior to the passport application. Of course one also needs a picture.
To be absolutely sure all biometrical criteria are met I had passport pictures made in Austria. This was about four weeks ago. I had four of them on one sheet. My parents wanted one but cautious me refused since I thought it might be better to present the full sheet with the stamp of the photo studio.
The photos were in my notebook for a while. I remember a point in time where I thught they would not be safe there and so I put them elsewhere. This spot must have been the ultimate security zone. I spent pretty much all time since Friday evening searching for those pictures. I found things I did not know were in my posession. I saw the content of certain drawers at least ten times. To no avail.
Today at 3 p.m. my desperation climaxed and I went to the nearest metro station in search of a photo booth. Luckily there was one. In the new set photos I look terrible, of course. Tomorrow morning I will report to the Austrian consulate. I am not at all convinced they will accept those pictures.
17 March 2016
My computer mouse broke. I contacted the IT help desk in order to get a new one. The problem was resolved quickly with the following statement: Summary of incident: Computer Mouse broken. Solution: We sent mice to Munich.
28 January 2016
The bookshop around the corner has put a huge bilboard into its shop window reading: ‘Sheherezade only survived the 1001 nights because she wasn’t boring.’
25 January 2016
Well, how can I summarize the work that has been ongoing over the past few days in the bathroom? The mold and mildew has been partly taken away, a construction has been made so that the toilet will not immediately crash again and tiles have been put on the wall. In a different shade of white. But so be it. None of the handymen attempted to use it. That really made me suspicious…
23 January 2016
I have been given so many thoughtful, beautiful gifts – I am humbled and thankful! I want to mention just one of them, have a look at this video of the wobbling chess!
18 January 2016
From the series: ‘Absurd details of day to day life’ or ‘who is the expert actually’?
The toilet broke. Of course it happened on a Friday evening. The toilet was slightly detached from the wall. It leaned into the room if one might say so and it leaked. I spare you the details. It looked dangerous and I felt awful. On Saturday the concierge decided it was not his problem. Finally on Monday afternoon a handymen showed up. He detached the toilet and diagnosed a completely wet wall. He noticed mold and mildew. I did, too. A shiny sort of green if I may say so. He removed parts of the broken wall before he attached the toilet again in a makeshift temporary arrangement. After that it was still leaking. He contemplated briefly and said: Can I use your toilet? My reply was that this was of course completely his decision and only for him to tell. He did what he had to do. Now I am confronted with a makeshift, leaking and smelly affair. I am reduced to humming a tune which goes like this: I’m discontented with homes that are rented…
1 January 2016
Broken Muses wishes a Happy New Year 2016!