Blog 2014

30 December 2014

Thanks for your valuable comment on Dec 29th blog entry dear Charlotte. I could not agree more that a chauffeur should always be in uniform and jeans with a mere Kermit-green polo shirt is most inappropriate. For a shirt I would have suggested olive or khaki at the most for an Olivia. By the way, I found out that “Harry” means “ok” in Sinhalese.

29 December 2014

News from rainy Sri Lanka: The roundtrip ended without a single ray of sunshine. Novel that in a country that is supposed to have good weather most of the time and monsoon in other months. Despite that it was all very interesting.

The second chauffeur guide – after having replaced the first one with him – was slightly afraid of me and tried to make sure that I am happy at all times. He would ask me several times a day: “Are you happy madam? Because if there was anything, any mistake I made, you tell me now because I’m only a human being.” P.A. Charlotte could teach him a lesson or two I thought.

He also reacted somehow bewildered when I called him Oliver instead of his actual name which seems to have been Sausanta. The trouble was that he was permanently on the phone and always picked up with the word “Oliver” and seemingly spoke to some “Harry”. He insisted that he had never heard of being called Oliver, nor of having had a recent name change or anything of that sort. I did not inquire further about Harry although to be honest it would have been of some interest since he tended to stop the car rather abruptly on the middle of the road whenever Harry was on the line. Thinking of Dorothy Parker and amending her quote on her favorite line for her tombstone, I thought for Oliver the best one would be: “Whomever he called, including Harry, it was against his passenger’s better judgment.”

On the journey and during the various stops I had enough time to ponder over the many landslides, the new roads and the presidential election campaign. The to be re-elected president has taken enormous initiative to ameliorate the major roads throughout the country. Nevertheless he himself travels to election speeches in a helicopter.

Also strangely enough on many election campaign posters he is grayed out with grey or black plastic taped all over his picture. I was told that despite the elections and despite he is running for president again and despite the fact that gigantic pictures of him alone on cardboard is omnipresent, he cannot be shown in ordinary election poster. I was supposed to take this all very serious and pretend to see the rational in it. I guess I failed on that one.

23 December 2014

An essence of Sri Lanka:
Everyone is smiling here. Always. Although many streets are flooded and it seems the whole country is currently under water. Men are standing together in groups, awed by the forces of nature and seem to discuss rice paddies that are better watered than usual or advise passing vehicles on water levels and tactical approaches to navigate the flooded streets.
What is also popular are conversations while stopping on railway crossings. Our driver seems to take a liking towards stopping his car right there and then in order to enter into a long conversation with passers-by while he encourages his passengers to watch out for elephants. When prompted he admits that on average there are many more passing trains than elephants.
Presidential elections are due for early January and the portrait of the current president who has for sure not been elected for his looks is ubiquitous. He has been in power for many years now and is on a good way to a certain immortality since he is about to erect a giant stupa. The future stupa is conveniently located in the already protected UNESCO world heritage area of the first royal city of Anuradhapura. The stupa will be immense. For the time being, about a third of the construction has been accomplished. Visitors, locals and tourists alike are required to take a brick each up on top the massive structure. And so you find yourself with an umbrella in one hand and a monstrous brick in the other hand between monks and local people, helping with the construction of a new monument. A slippery giant construction site instead of ancient buildings is indeed different than other word heritage sites. The historic buildings, stupas and the 2300 year old Bodhi tree grown from a branch of the tree under which Buddha found enlightenment are also there of course.
As far as the food is concerned, there is always a huge variety which continues to surprise and amaze me. There might be young jack-fruit, which when cooked looks like chicken curry but has a very particular taste of its own. Or homemade string hoppers, nests of rice noodle. Or very thin dough with a fried egg inside. Due to the high humidity salt and pepper do not disperse easily from salt and pepper shakers, but toothpicks scatter neatly, especially if one is slightly blind and clumsy or both and thus is me. So I could not really avoid that my soups taste a bit wooden accordingly.

7 December 2014

Season greetings – different this time!

5 December 2014

Every employee received a Lindt chocolate advent calendar. I was really touched.

3 December 2014 – Modern Muse Chic

PA Charlotte’s Tought of the Day: Estee Lauder has just launched Modern Muse Chic. The Muse theme resonates well with this website but does the associated marketing blurb about who uses the perfume? It gushes: ‘She’s the rare woman who defines style on her own terms. Her mantra is never be ordinary. Bold, original, extroverted and creative. Her love of fashion and the way she uses accessories to express her innate sense of style inspires everyone she meets.’

What on earth does this mean? Assuming the smell is very lovely, can you only use it if you are extremely odd? Never ordinary? But not so extraordinary presumably, because she inspires everyone she meets? A Broken (Modern) Muse perhaps might do the trick? I therefore recommend that, after you spray yourself liberally with Modern Muse Chic, you wear a black & white check Chanel jacket with a long flared pink skirt and bright yellow Laboutin high heels, with a black Burberry handbag as an accessory. Oh, and don’t forget a crimson beret!

20 November 2014

Please do read and/or install the Bible System Updates!

14 November 2014

Not every solution solves a problem. – Gottfried Mueller

12 November 2014

How to refrain from laughing when somebody dials into a conference call and says: Hello, Salmon is joining!

9 November 2014

“Patience is like chocolate. You can never have enough.” – Christelle Heurtault

2 November 2014

I’m back from Goa, Udaipur, Jodhpur, Pushkar, Jaipur and Varanasi. India was a firework of impressions, it is loud, dirty, stinks of things that you do not encounter in European cities anymore (sheep and cows and cow dung on the road, wild boars which burrow in the mud, potholes so deep that could swallow a human being), colorful, lively, inventive and full of people. My senses have been overwhelmed more than once.
There were many – perhaps sometimes too many – impressions in a very short time and this time I dd not really have enough time to really dive deep into everything.
In Pushkar there is an annual Camel Fair where about 50,000 camels are brought to a small town to be traded. The fair had not yet begun when I was there but the city was full of idiosyncratic characters, freaks, snake charmers, sadhus (a type of hermit / monk) and other pilgrims who have come from afar. Pushkar is actually a city, in which there is neither meat nor alcohol, a holy city in honor of Brahma, so the choice is to either eat vegetarian or vegan.
And about the other cities, well now, they are larger, but even there there are snake charmers and the most impossible things are sold.

25 October 2014

Traveling through India. First in Goa I have to say that whilst on the beach I indulged mostly in the local newspaper. The newspaper was particularly witty I thought as they reported in detail about “stray dogs chasing stray roaming cattle”. I can witness that said dogs and cattle can even be found on the beach. Plus me of course in the form of a pillar of salt given the dogs and allegedly, according to the Goa Times already thousands of reported dog bites in 2014. And then the local petty crime, a delight in terms of journalistic achievement! The paper was happy to report that “police have recovered one Samsung mobile, two laptops and one black burka”. Given the fact that the robbery took place in a church (St. John de Baptista church) in May this year one really wonders why anyone would bring a black burka to the church in the first place.

8 October 2014

Oh how much I miss Absurdistan: Belgium’s 5 Euro medal from 2008 is a tribute to the Smurfs!

7 October 2014

Well in defense of the language: The weird German words you would have never thought exist do not at all sound so weird in German itself…

4 October 2014

I have a new favourite iPad App: Hanx Writer . gives you the look and feel and sound of typing with a typewriter.

3 October 2014

Somehow I tend to like the Mythbusters. Urban myth? Commom belief? They all get tested and either confirmed or busted. One of my favourites is: Never Bring a Knife to a Gun Fight or: What is the minimum distance at which a kife is dangerours to a man with a gun?

21 September 2014

The ongoing trend to selfies (and shelfies perhaps) is amended by another innovative idea, selfies from space! SpaceBooth is about to place a pico satellite into the orbit. Once they are ready, one can send one’s picture to the satellite. Inside the satellite the picture will then be “projected in front of the window overlooking the earth, the stars or maybe even some aliens. The built-in camera will then snap a shot of your picture with in the background, whatever can be seen at that moment through the satellite’s window.” And then the “fantabulous photograph” will be “sent back to earth for you to show off”. So they say. Will we soon see pictures of libraries in space? Or would that be regarded as a space oddity?

19 September 2014

If you cannot make it to the most beautiful bookshops or libraries of this world, the best place to take a fresh shelfie will probably be in one of the so called Bibliotels!

14 September 2014

Life can hardly be better than at Lago di Garda listening to Lady Blue Eyes.

7 September 2014

Ikea or iPhone? Ikea a this time! And here there is there 2015 catalogue.

6 September 2014

Once more there is a new trend: Fake-Vacationing or Fakecationing! So for all of us who just seem to get any sun, summer or let alone time off this time of year, this could be it!

5 September 2014

Written on a postcard: In memory everything seems to happen to music‏.

1 September 2014

I thought I start the month with quoting a new trend – people’s tendencies to snap a shelfie – and contributing a shelfie mys(h)elf.

Margit’s Shelfie

29 August 2014

“400 gnomes disappeared in Austria, and it’s causing a political scandal”. Isn’t it embarrassing, that this headline made it even into the overseas papers? What has become of Austria? We are told that In the course of the election campaign, the Social Democratic Party ordered 20,000 gnomes called “Coolmen” earlier this year. And now 400 gnomes have disappeared and nobody knows where they have gone. And allegedly it is all down to politics… Nothing to add here. Apart from a picture I once upon a time took in the Czech Republic. Have to go and search for it.

22 August 2014

The University of Cambridge is now looking for a candidate for a multidisciplinary PhD on chocolate! It is even an industrial, fully-funded 3.5 year PhD studentship. Its aim is to study the fundamentals of heat-stable chocolate.

Looking at the prerequisites Cambridge asks for I think I can safely say that I do have experience in experimental investigations. I mean it is chocolate! Self-education and extensive tests in eight years in chocolate heaven Brussels should be taken into consideration.

I did at least 4 years of study at University level but would probably have difficulties arguing convincingly that this has been acquired in a discipline such as physics, chemistry, materials science or engineering.  And well, I am a European national, so that box is ticked.

14 -17 August 2014

Rome, more to follow soon. For the time being I just want to highlight a t-shirt quote: “The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are.” – Joseph Campbell

9 August 2014

“I really do believe the camera steals the soul. But that may be because I’m worried about my soul. I don’t have much of a soul to begin with; I can’t afford to lose much.” – Hugh Laurie

8 August 2014

So is photography about art or equipment?

6 August 2014

Having watched the Death Star Canteen video over and over again I just stumbled over another quote by Eddie Izzard: “And I think that if God did exist, he had many children. I think Jesus proves this. Jesus must be the seventh son of God. A-sus, B-sus, C-sus, D-sus, E-sus, F-sus, G-sus. That’s just logic. That’s just mathematical. And T-sus would always be *ing about. And P-sus does deliveries. C-sus started the Roman Empire. Cae-sus. F-sus, City in Turkey. B-sus was covered in something. Some people applauding there; other people going, “What?” … B-sus was covered in bees.” ― Eddie Izzard

4 August 2014

It would appear as if I had a new nickname at work: “SOKO Graz, Inspector Brandl” whereby SOKO is the abbreviation for a Special Investigative Commission and has been used for many TV series over the past decade. There have been SOKOs Vienna and Kitzbühl and now we have Graz. Well. Still I don’t know if that is a good thing or a bad thing.

2 – 3 August 2014

Who would have thought that I would ever make it to the Dachstein (Styria’s highest mountain)! And I made it up almost all walking. No really, in fact I took the cable car up to the glacier but – in my defense – only after an hour-long, exhausting, beautiful hike around the Dachstein. And the area does not spare you from clichés. Lush pastures, martial cows defending their calves, Edelweiss painted on roof ridges, strudel that tastes like the on from grandma, climbing trails for the extreme adventurous, waterfalls next to waterfalls etc. And then images of cows that seem to dance Samba, Mambo and Tango with imprinted dance moves in the form of hoof prints. In the hotel they had water beds, fireplaces, wooden toys and buffets with pumpkin seeds all over and whole honeycombs.

On top of the Dachstein glacier a film team seems to just finish another season of a well known series on mountain rescuers. And to this end, two mannequins have been placed on the glacier as well. The connection was not obvious and I only learnt about all that back in Munich. It made me wonder on the site, especially as the two dolls are somewhat placed at a not too prominent spot below a conveyor belt that connects the icy paths with the viewing terrace. And yes, well, at the end of the icy path near the summit there is a hut decorated with Nepalese prayer flags. A Nepalese from Lukla works there, the city with one of the most dangerous airports in the world.

1 August 2014

It is quite interesting to see the lethal doses of common chemicals: Allegedly 6 liters of Water or if that is not to your taste, 13 shots of alcohol or alternatively 118 cups of coffee could kill you. Note to self: the latter cannot possibly happen in good old Germany. The coffee is simply not strong enough.

26 July 2014

Italian Prime Ministrer Matteo Renzi’s recent speech transformed into a rap “shish is the word”, please watch! And don’t forget, now is the time of lunch! Also the original speech with subtitles is worth watching!

23 July 2014

In the Iraqi city of Mosul, shopkeepers are told to cover the faces of mannequins. As much as I like mannequins and their different appearances, I think too much is too much. Mannequins need a stronger lobby!

14 July 2014

Funny that one, hope you are up for: UP
And please be sure to read until the end…
This two-letter word in English has more meanings than any other two-letter word, and that word is ‘UP.’ It is listed in the dictionary as an [adv], [prep], [adj], [n] or [v].
It’s easy to understand UP, meaning toward the sky or at the top of the list, but when we awaken in the morning, why do we wake UP?
At a meeting, why does a topic come UP? Why do we speak UP, and why are the officers UP for election and why is it UP to the secretary to write UP a report? We call UP our friends, brighten UP a room, polish UPthe silver, warmUP the leftovers and clean UP the kitchen. We lock UP the house and fix UP the old car.
At other times, this little word has real special meaning. People stir UP trouble, line UP for tickets, work UP an appetite, and think UP excuses.
To be dressed is one thing but to be dressed UP is special.
And this UP is confusing: A drain must be opened UP because it is stopped UP.
We open UP a store in the morning but we close it UP at night. We seem to be pretty mixed UP about UP!
To be knowledgeable about the proper uses of UP, look UP the word UP in the dictionary. In a desk-sized dictionary, it takes UP almost 1/4 of the page and can add UP to about thirty definitions.
If you are UP to it, you might try building UP a list of the many ways UP is used. It will take UP a lot of your time, but if you don’t give UP, you may wind UP with a hundred or more.
When it threatens to rain, we say it is clouding UP. When the sun comes out, we say it is clearing UP. When it rains, it soaks UP the earth. When it does not rain for awhile, things dry UP. One could go on and on, but I’ll wrap it UP, for now .. … . my time is UP!
Oh . . . one more thing: What is the first thing you do in the morning and the last thing you do at night?
Did that one crack you UP?
Don’t screw UP. Send this on to everyone you look UP in your address book . . . or not . . . it’s UP to you.
Now I’ll shut UP!

8 July 2014
The advantage of being the only woman in an otherwise male office is that you do not have to get your own subscription of auto-motor-sports magazines whilst still having access to ample information. The disadvantage of course is that there are hardly any alliances when it comes to turning up the air condition from arctic to bearable conditions.

6 July 2014
What would we do without the Japanese. After the hare with amber eyes they gave us Hamuketsu, hamster’s furry behinds. Novel that. Although I believe Yoko Ono has photographed people’s behinds already back in the 60-ies or 70-ies.

5 July 2014
I like it that every language has their untranslateable words.

27 June 2014

P.A. Charlotte’s thought of the day:
What do you think about ‘dress down Friday’? It is very difficult for those of us interested in fashion because we love to ‘dress up’! On the other hand we need to show in the office that we are collegiate and good team-members. My advice is to ‘dress down’ but not very much. If you are very elegantly dressed indeed from Monday to Thursday (see link). Then people will not notice that – whilst you have toned things down a couple of notches by wearing more comfortable clothes with softer lines and various layers of fabrics – you remain still well dressed (see link). This should could keep everyone happy. Good luck!

16 June 2014

Having tried Google glasses myself a few weeks ago I can really sympathize with the moderator… 6 June 2014 Thoughts in early June: Is there a chance a day can be a good day or at least a moderately fine day when said day starts with a honey bread (face down of course) on nice and fresh trousers? Has anyone ever researched the correlation of the average cleanliness of a house in times when the tax returns need to be filed? And finally, and here I have got an answer, what causes the smell of new and old books?

30 May 2014
I am happy to read that there are still some bastions where humans can beat machines, at least in complex situations. Although I have never played “Go” myself, it seems that this “Eastern version of chess” plyed on a board of 19 by 19 lines is still far too complex to be won by a computer.

21 May 2014
Although I might not be Nicolas Cage’s biggest fan, I doubt that there is a correlation between the number of films he appeared in and the number of people who drowned by falling into a swmming pool. But check out some of the spurious correlations yourself.

19 May 2014
What a nice piece of showing Munich Ein Münchner im Himmel. The IMDB tells us (and I am very grateful for their Synopsis): “Alois Hingerl, service-worker #172 in the main station of Munich, performs a job with such haste that a sudden stroke transports him straight to heaven. Once there, St. Peter gives him his new name (“Angel Aloisius”), his harp and private cloud. However, Aloisius isn’t altogether happy with the afterlife: First of all, there is no beer in heaven, no sneezing tobacco (“Schmaizla”; sometimes called Bavarian cocaine) and to rejoice and singing praise all day long isn’t much to his taste either. His praise-singing soon deteriorates to a rant, which causes disharmony in heaven. Upon realizing that Aloisius is a native of Munich and hence not heaven-compatible, God decides to give Aloisius a new job: He is ordered to convey the “divine advice” to the government of Munich but upon feeling the capitals floor under his feet, his way takes him straight to the “Hofbräuhaus” (Munich’s most prominent beer hall), where he orders one beer after another – hence the government awaits the “divine advice” to this day. That ending cost Ludwig Thoma (one of the few prominent authors from Bavaria) a hefty fine when he published his satire in 1911. But the figure of Aloisius struck a cord with the Bavarian, turning him into somewhat of a mascot. Aloisius is generally how Bavarians (and especially the residents of the capital, Munich) like to view themselves: laid back, easy-going (no, they don’t like the term “lazy”), ever defiant (no, they don’t like the term “stubborn”), feisty (not “bellicose”) and despite being generally arch-catholic, primarily concerned with fleshly pleasures.”

12 May 2014
Some of the ideas inspired by Conchita Wurst’s success in winning the 2014 Eurovision  Song Contest last Saturday are quite nice. I cannot decide whether I like the interpretation of the Mozartkugel or Julia Timoschenko’s new look better.

11 May 2014
Went on a short trip to Hangar 7 in Salzburg near the airport. It is a rather fascinating building as such and one can see many planes and other flying gear from Red Bull apart from their racing cars of course. But what was most fascinating for me was a huge (2×2.6m) picture of Freddy Mercury’s face, made of 11.956 wine corks. It is called “The Queen of Corks” and has been made by Daniel Kubini, the sommelier of Hangar 7’s famous restaurant Ikarus.

2 May 2014
So after all there has been an artist obsessed with dolls before Cindy Sherman! Dare Wright seems to have been an extraordinary woman. I just adore the picture of Edith and Little Bear crossing Brooklyn Bridge. It is called “went too far alone”.

1 May 2014
Not that anyone would ever truly wish to learn that but it is curious to see how an Englishman has tried to explain how to be German in 25 easy steps. While I sympathise with some things of course (and I can’t say I did not smile at one or the other picture and looked up the cross-referenced sausage gallery) I absolutely loved the passage on all the many friendly greetings.

26 April 2014
What an interesting idea! According to the website authors, the “heatmap shows the places people like, based on the number of panoramio photos at each place in the world. The dark areas have few photos, the red areas have more and the yellow areas have a large number of photos geotagged.”

22 April 2014
Now finally this is a chart worth looking at! It describes the correlation between a county’s annual per capita chocolate consumption and the number of Nobel laureats per 10 Mio population.The Swiss, Swedes, Danish, Austrians and Norwegians should be quite contempt! And the British of course. I can’t help but worry a bit about the Germans and the Irish though.

18 April 2014
Latest research on the role of facial hair in women’s perceptions of men’s attractiveness, health, masculinity and parenting abilities suggests that “beardedness affects judgments of male socio-sexual attributes and suggest that an intermediate level of beardedness is most attractive while full-bearded men may be perceived as better fathers who could protect and invest in offspring.” Thinking about that and looking at a picture like that I might be the exception confirming the general rule. 17 April 2014 Went for a walk. Had a tiny piece of chocolate of about 3g on me. Met a small dog (about 3kg). The dog was not in the least interested in the chocolate.

16 April 2014
There may be new ways to deal with fear of dogs, although it of course means approaching the dog, but (!) at least with chocolate! According to Compound Interest an ingredient of chocolate is toxic in large quantities for humans and in much lesser quantities for canines. Somehow the figures in the diagram of said page and the text do not really match but it may be safe to say a relatively small dog of around 10kg could be killed with some 1.5kg of milk chocolate and much, much less dark chocolate.

7 April 2014
The world changes at a rapid pace. These days it is no longer about buying power, it is about keeping power. If you fail to show some affection to your toaster, it might sell itself and is off to the next person that treats him better. Please make sure you also see the video of Addicted products: The story of Brad the Toaster. 4 April 2014 So after all the misspellings – my collection ranges from 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 to Margit Wandel (i.e. change) – my new name is Kukka Kangas whereby Kukka stands for flower and Kangas for forrsted land. This is at least what the “Finngenerator” tells me. And in the end we are all Finns the Finnish tourism board thinks. Test it for yourself!

3 April 2014
Caitlin Levin and the photographer Henry Hargreaves create world maps from Food, so called food-maps. They take “iconic foods of countries and continents”, turn them into physical maps and show how these foods are “becoming a part of the cultural identity of that place”. Needless to say I like the New Zealand map most…

2 April 2014
This is quite an artsy project. The Austrian artist Lukas Pusch has spent a few months in China. He dressed up as Mozart for a photography project. I am not sure whether I like the “fine dust sonate” better than his “visit to the dog butcher” or vice-versa.

March 28, 2014
When time is of essence and blogging is somehow blocked, PA Charlotte is there to help: Spring is nearly upon us – despite the record rain across Europe. I love the Spring fashions this year. Look out for pastel skirts and trousers, allied to little box jackets, in pinks, lilacs, light greys and lemons. Pastel coloured soft leather skirts are a particular feature. Team this with the new range of light grey, brown or cream handbags and scarves, and perhaps darker heels, and you will be very ‘on trend’. Let’s hope the sun stays out! But it may be as well to keep your winter Burberry raincoat close at hand still.
But oddly, pastels are not universal. Some designers are offering bright colours (orange, red, deep blue), or metallic-style materials for shift dresses and pencil skirts. Some combined with multi-coloured sandals.’
When the weather is unseasonable, should you wear the season’s trends! What a conundrum.
I do wonder though if pastels are too bland if not ‘dressed up’ with stronger colours in accessories. There is an English saying ‘the blind leading the blind’ e.g. for an idea neither well thought out or implemented. In fashion, this could be the ‘bland leading the blind’, or the ‘bland leading the bland’!

27 March 2014
Sorry to all readers for the backlog in this blog’s frequency, I am pleased to say that it is not due to a writer’s block or rather a blog’s block.

17 March 2014
Have a look atthis beautiful world map which looks at the world from a different angle. It is a map of the Internet. Its designer Martin Vargic, a student and amateur graphic designer from Slovakia, says about himself and the map: “First of its kind on such a scale, this map aims for succesful compendation of The Internet to scale suitable for standartized online navigation. This project is still underway, new versions of this map will be available in ulterior months. Due to the immense size of the Net, only a miniscule portion of it was chosen to represent it on the map.  Otherwise, this map would be unreadable and probably undrawable in entire lifespan of average human being. This poster includes one full map of the internet, 4 minimaps showcasing NSA surveillance, most used social networks, most used internet browser, and worldwide internet penetration, list of Alexa Top 500 websites, quick timeline of the Internet History, top software companies and much more!”

15 March 2014
Photoshop has indeed gone too far…

13 March 2014
“Nine out of ten people say they like chocolate. One is lying.” Seen at the chcocolate factory Art of Chocolate.

9 March 2014
Apple’s answer to the Google driverless car…. Or is it?

8 March 2014
I have a feeling that there is this thing these days with belts. A Munich start-up has begun offering belts made from (old) ties. You can even send them your own tie and have them make a belt from it for you. Unfortunately their website KRAGÜ is only available in German.

7 March 2014
Check out this Website please, it is hilarious!
The BBC writes: “AirPnP – inspired by AirBnB, a service for renting out your property to travellers – said it offered a ‘legal alternative’ to urinating in public. Willing ‘entrepeeneurs’ can charge a price to use their toilet, and must add details such as cleanliness and toilet paper thickness. Users can rate their ‘pee experience’.”
Needless to say that I love the notion that everybody can be an entrepeeneur these days!

6 March 2014
There is no limit to creativity. There are designers who have really tought about stripping off belts at the airport security counter. And voila, now we are there and can just let go of the buckle thanks to the innovative flybelt. You will also be happy to hear that according to the company’s own words all belts are “made in Austria”.

5 March 2014
Mamihlapinatapai: According to Wikipedia “the word Mamihlapinatapai (sometimes spelled mamihlapinatapei) is derived from the Yaghan language of Tierra del Fuego, listed in The Guinness Book of World Records as the “most succinct word”, and is considered one of the hardest words to translate. It allegedly refers to “a look shared by two people, each wishing that the other will offer something that they both desire but are unwilling to suggest or offer themselves.” … The word consists of the reflexive/passive prefix ma- (mam- before a vowel), the root ihlapi (pronounced [iɬapi]), which means “to be at a loss as what to do next”, the stative suffix -n, an achievement suffix -ata, and the dual suffix -apai, which in composition with the reflexive mam- has a reciprocal sense…”

4 March 2014
My mobile phone which is undoubtedly rather detached from me sent me a picture depicting Yoga exercises for Bavarians (copyright: Peter Gaymann). Have I mentioned that the phone likes beer and Bavarian white sausages?

25 February 2014
This year’s carnival trend seems to be sushi costumes for babies. This can sometimes look quite moderate, but also quite peculiar in the case the parents go for the soy bottle variation or decide for presenting their baby as a shrimp in a bucket.
All there is of course also the maki costume for adults which I do not find too sexy to be honest and last but not least there is also an option for cats…

23 February 2014
No tapa on the birthday of my papa (but Sacher cake but that is a different matter) but I realized that tapa is not just the name for small Spanish appetizers, but means “lid” or “cover” and so there is a new trend in Austria where so-called Austro Tapas are Austria balanced over respective matching drinks on tiny plates (note: formerly they were called very small plates).

19 February 2014
Flocrence King allegedly said that “’Very’ is the most useless word in the English language and can always come out. More than useless, it is treacherous because it invariably weakens what it is intended to strengthen.” And so there is a whole list that suggests 45 ways to avoid using the word very. V.., quite interesting, don’t you think?

Received comment: As a bemused blog reader I followed the link above and learnt: “So avoid using the word ‘very’ because it’s lazy. A man is not very tired, he is exhausted. Don’t use very sad, use morose. Language was invented for one reason, boys – to woo women – and, in that endeavor, laziness will not do. ~ N.H. Kleinbaum.
So back to the roots and to the only reason boys learn language: wooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo. I hope my “woo” shows the desired effect.”

Received comment: “A very good way, perhaps not the very best way, to avoid using the word “very” appears to be to have a very slightly larger vocabulary. Not even a very much larger vocabulary.
But then you very much need to know how to use it. It is very often thought to be in very bad taste simply to flaunt the size of your very large vocabulary.
Some things can be very acceptable. Even more than very acceptable. But very often yet more of anything can be an excess.
So have a very nice day. And my very best wishes!”

17 February 2014
As I said earlier, I do have a new mobile phone and what can I tell you, it is priceless. It is independent and capable performing the most interesting tasks. It loves beer. Whenever it feels for it, it opens a bottle. Sometimes this coincides with a short message in my inbox, most often it does not notify me of anything but the phone’s wish to be noticed and taken seriously. Colleagues raise their eyebrows at the third bottle of beer that is opened by 10 a.m. at the latest. I would not go as far as stating that it ruins my reputation but it is capable of embarrassing me. The other day it sent a short text message to somebody at 7 a.m. saying “I am at the movies”. Perhaps the phone was there, I wasn’t.

15 February 2014
Sadly, my new phone is leading a life of its own apart from me. It keeps calling people and I assume it must have private things to discuss but I will never know for sure. And it makes noises. Not that the noises had anything to do with interacting with me, making my life in any way easier or reporting something meaningful to  me, no. I guess it is digesting and at times makes a noise accordingly. Or it buzzes. The most common sound in its repertoire very much sounds as if it would open a bottle of beer. Colleagues have given me odd stares. They almost invisibly shake their heads. I should not feel guilty  but somehow I do. Mind you, my phone is a Bavarian of Korean origin. It may be banned from Switzerland nowadays but mind you once more, I suppose it moves in its own ways. But this Korean-Bavarian mobile phone of mine also has other things in the box: if it feels for showing you an image – which it really does not often do – and one trembles with emotion just because of this unlikely and possibly one-time only unforeseen glimpse of what human-machine interaction could mean, this trembling suffices to have the phone produce snow. It then bossily tells you to wait and says: “Creating auto awesome snow. You will receive a notification when it is ready.”

12 February 2014
I just stumbled across this video on the origins of job interviews again and still find it hilarious!

6 – 7 February 2014
Brussels. And yet again I was reminded about what being in Absurdistan meant. To a certain extent it means shouldering the weight of the world as a modern Atlas. But I guess one picture tells more than a 1000 words.

5 February 2014
I am grateful for some initial comments on the new website!
‘I like the new site design. Good interactivity and sharp, clean colours. And an Austrian flag! Maybe some new sections would be good for future e.g. links to sites you like? ‘Broken Poses’ or ‘Broken Views’ or somesuch.’
‘I already had a look at your website and I have to say it looks very elegant and aesthetic. Some pictures unfortunately take a long time to load and display’

4 February 2014
My new colleague and ‘seatmate’ – strictly speaking I should say that probably it is fair to assume he thinks I am his new colleague and ‘seatmate’, but let’s not dwell on that –  has put up a card on his desk which has not been there yesterday. The card reads: Over there where you sit, I can very well imagine a houseplant.

3 February 2014
I learnt today that CET is also called Romance Standard Time. First I thought it must of course read “Roman” standard time. But no, it is “Romance”. And right after that – and I have to say Freud would have been proud, I misread “move less – share more” and understood more (or) less, shave more. Well.

2 February 2014
Welcome to the NEW Broken Muses Website! I have been thinking of updating the look and feel of this website since quite some time and now here it is! Let me know what you think of it! It will be expanded bit by bit but I did not want to keep you from having a glance of it any longer!

1 February 2014
I suppose today is the day to recall an old advertisement that went like this: The future is bright, the future is Orange!

23 January 2014
I had a chat with a farmer on the beach and suggested to dip the melons – which he wants to harvest in about 3 weeks – into the sea and then sell them as salt water melons (© TV series “Towards the sun”). He looked at me slightly bewildered and I think it is fair to assume that he will not be following my advice.
Another person came over and said he had just been bitten by a swarm of bees. He explained to me that the only thing that will help in this case is to rub one’s skin liberally with rum immediately after bees attack. The wind was favorable and so I did not have to smell it right away.
On the way to the village I passed a souvenir dealer. When she noticed me and heard I would be going to the supermarket, she handed me 150 Jamaican dollars (about 1.20 Euros) and ordered me to bring her sardines. Shortly after that she called after me and said she would trust me.
I thought of how I spent my birthdays in recent years, Rome, Iran, Myanmar, Munich. I wanted to keep things quiet but then still some things happened, a bonfire was lit, a cake organized, candles and even a candlelight dinner on the beach. I was not presented with the family silver, however, but you can not have everything.

22 January 2014
Whether it was a good idea to come to Treasure Beach for a few days is hard to say. My room in the Waikiki Beach Hotel is, to say the least, rather simple. The frog that lives outside my room is so large that jumping seems to be almost exhausting, the frog in my room on the other hand is so small that it wasn’t difficult to rinse him down the drain in the somewhat crude cold shower.
At about 9 p.m. the lights go out. To quite some embarrassment I fought and lost an unsuccessful battle for the one chair on the proch outside. The cat scored 1-0 and so I went to bed.
Treasure Beach is a small town with a strong sense of community. The community thought goes as far as that the owners of the hotel consider the neighbour’s Internet signal as their own. In other words, there is no Internet access in the hotel itself but you are told to just use the neighbour’s signal. To the surprise and utter annoyance of the hotel owners, said neighbour, however, has dared to change the password at around Christmas. I should note that said neighbor was not too imaginative when changing the password. However, it nevertheless seems so that a) the line is incredibly slow, b) the strong winds often kill the signal and c) the neighbour has the guts to shut down the power if he does not need his network.

20 – 21 January 2014
After the Summerset Falls, the Reach Falls, Port Antonio and Kingston, I have a somewhat mixed picture of Jamaica. The island is very scenic, varied, but not quite safe, although one that does not really notice that at first as a visitor. But on the other hand what can you expect of a country where coconuts are called “jelly”, the main seasoning for meat and fish “jerk” (as in jerk chicken, jerk pork and jerk fish) and an almost inedible garnish of corn flour in the form and color of dog excrement “Festival”? And I think I should also mention a rather special roadsign that read: “Undertakers love overtakers”.

14 – 19 January 2014
Jamaica is very diverse and its attractions range from the most beautiful beaches to the highlands where one of the rarest coffees in the world is grown, the so called Blue Mountain coffee. I like it here, it is a holiday far away from mass tourism and thus very interesting.
A raft ride on a bamboo raft along the Rio Grande was great and I could try paddling myself which is like stand up paddeling only on a bamboo raft with bamboo stick to teeter and row.
Swimming through waterfalls and then climbing them from the caves within also has something to it. And who would have guessed that I ever dare to enter through a hole from the top of a waterfall?
And well, my flip- flops have been through quite a lot already, not least a walk along a slippery waterfall (Reach Falls) and over slippery roots and leaves back through the rainforest. But the descent to Winnifred Beach on muddy roots was a highlight of a different kind. There is rain also in the Caribbean, heavy rain even. And if you are traveling with a Tyrolean guide, you have to be prepared to be sent over stock and stone and mud and roots. Of course, there would also have been a regular road, marginally longer, but no, I was told there, in between those trees there is a path…

13 January 2014
I bumped my head on a palm tree. Still hurts. A case of first world problems?

12 January 2014
Your Body has finally arrived where your mind has always been – Richard “Rick” Hershman 1974, founder at Rick’s Cafe, Jamaica

11 January 2014
If there was a world championship in clumsiness, I’d be their all time star… I manage to stumble about anything at any time. When the stewardess yesterday poured some orange juice over me (her fault, an exceptional exception), consequently I drop my in ear earphones – courtesy of the airline – into said orange juice only to water them out later – with little sucess admittedly – while reading a story about a sucessful operation on a patient’s ear. A coakroack two centimetes long had lived in there for some time. The orange scent and the Carribean climate will hopefully not attract any of those animals…

10 January 2014
I just remember that I forgot to read the article on Alzheimer disease in today’s paper.

9 January 2014
The spell-check on my computer wants me to change Salzburg into Sandburg. Not sure the people of Salzburg would approve.

8 January 2014
I continued to read some older blogposts and have to add that there are also some basic facts that remain true:
– Nobody really looks great when having a parking ticket in his or her mouth.
– One of the biggest modern day threats often come in very simple words: “Let’s have an e-mail discussion”.
– On hot days you can smell some people before you can actually see them.

7 January 2014
Reading through some older posts in this blog I noticed that there are some basic questions that remain unanswered. For instance:
– Are there collective obsessions?
– Is there a cure for cynicism?
– What is he deeper meaning of a magic tree in a convertible car?
– Is there an art movement in modern art which focuses on aesthetics?

6 January 2013
Don’t get me wrong, I do have my issues with dogs as you know. Nevertheless I find this new study’s findings rather helpful. If it should really be so that dogs dafecate in line with the Earth’s magnetic field in an exact north south direction, that could really be helpful for getting orientated in foreign cities. Although of course one needs to double-check as always. The researchers say that this behavior does not occur under “unstable conditions” and so better make sure you watch dog and owner during the process before drawing any conclusions.

4 January 2013
I have two friends who modern day hobby-Freuds would diagnose with compulsory book buying disorder. I love their habits to be honest but keep asking myself where this world develops to: will we still recognize people’s love for books when they just fill up eBook reader after eBook reader?

1 January 2014
I just had a mochi. And that reminded me about a comment I had gotten on what I wrote earlier on mochi. “Japan confronts mochi rice-cake death-trap with technological solution Safer recipe promised for traditional new year glutinous rice cakes that regularly take the lives of elderly people
Just like the article says, Mochi are quite “innocent-looking” but must by no means be underestimated. I agree that it is advisable to cut them into bite-sized pieces and never eat them alone – the choking risk is simply too high. Still something deep inside tells me I would not want to eat “safe” mochi.


  1. 3 Jan 2014: Sehr chic, dein neues Design!
    Und ein neu erwachter Patriotismus (trotz einer Zukunft in orange vor blauweißem Hintergrund)!
    Baba! (Ist das jetzt österreichisch korrekt?)

  2. 4 April 2014: Thank God for Babelfish. How else could I translate Lukas Pusch’s web page that you posted…? It all seems most avant garde, I guess. And SO Margit Brandl-ish, if I can coin a term. It’s nice to see you back in your blog, Miss Margit. Back in the saddle again, as we say here in the USA… Hope to catch up with you soon.

  3. In RE: 3 April — What? No food map of AUSTRIA by Mr. Hargreaves? But he can make a map of AUSTRALIA? This oversight needs to be corrected, Dr. Margit. I wonder if his map of France was composed of French cheeses…?

  4. In RE 7 April 2014: Your blog about the toaster that is looking for a new home made me think about your switch from analog to digital photography a couple of years ago. I’m wondering if your analog photography equipment has been looking for a new home of late, feeling all alone and ignored, and maybe it’s become weary of being cooped up stored away in an infrequently opened desk drawer or on a closet shelf…or even (perish the thought!) perhaps it’s pining away in a now-unused darkroom? But then again, since it’s only an analog device and isn’t a smart camera after all, perhaps this question is rather moot….

  5. On April 22, 2014 and Chocolate Nobel Prize winners: Okay, I remember this proverb: “Torture the data long enough, and it will confess to anything.”

  6. RE 1 May 2014 and How to Be German: Point number 10 reads “Here, meat is the linchpin of every meal. Being a vegetarian here is probably about as much fun as being blind at the zoo.” Oh yeah, I forgot. You’re AUSTRIAN, not German. My mistake. Austrian vegetarians: elegant, sophisticated, artistic, gorgeous. German vegetarians: impossible

  7. 17 July 2014: For someone to whom English is a second language, and maybe a third, your essay on up-pityness is a classic. Congratulations, Dr. Margit. When I was in high school, my English composition teacher kept telling me that ending a sentence with a preposition is a habit up with which she would not put. I responded to her that doing this was not something she needed to get worked up over….

  8. 26 Aug 2014: Jetzt hast du mich neugierig gemacht, Margit, wo der Handyverlust genau passiert ist. Ebola in München? Nein, ich frage nicht, was du dort gemacht hast…. 😉

  9. 11 OCt 2014: I was thinking about you and yet again you are somewhere exotic… Hope you enjoy the travels. And about Absurdistan… one day you will return 😉

  10. 10 Nov 2014: Oh and off course if you want chocolate.. I can send you some… please let me know in which form, taste and amount.

  11. 8 Dec 2014: In RE: the black and white jacket with the crimson beret… Oh, my God… And Merry Christmas, Dr. Margit.

  12. 8 Dec 2014: In 5 December’s blog:
    Ah, but Dr. Margit, why not grace us with a photo of some pages from the Lindt chocolate advent calendar you received…? Your envious American friend

  13. 23 Dec 2014: Hi Margit, it’s amazing. I’ll expect to see your photos when you are back in Munich mid January! This year Christmas time is like spring time Germany. The “Glühwein” is out but Beer is in. Cheers, Conny

  14. 30 Dec 2014: Re 29 December blog. A guide or chauffeur should always be in uniform. A grey pencil skirt and heels would be best. And use the name Olivia!!

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