Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Stock Up Your Cellar

The avian flue is spreading all over Europe and is taking over the front pages. Please don't be paralysed and take immediate care of the usual flue precaution measures, such as stocking up the red section of your wine cellar.

Italian scientists from the Istituto Superiore di Sanità (ISS) have discovered that resveratrol restricts the ability of the influenza virus to replicate. Resveratrol is found in the skins of red grapes, and as a constituent of red wine.

However, in some cases, even the wonder drug resveratrol can't help.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Happy End with Othello and Chocolate

We just came home from the premiere of Othello in the city without any problems. We've got these blameworthy desired tickets for free because we know somebody who knows somebody. Even the mayor, the one I did not vote for, was there (probably for free too). Othello was good but especially Lago was so German German that from now on, I will consider hateful scheming as something typically German.

As soon as we got home, Toño did the right thing, by taking the Molinillo in both hands and making some delicious Chocolate con Leche.

Chocolate con Leche

Even a better ending for an entirely delightful weekend than Othello.

Saturday, February 25, 2006


We - that is, Toño and I - have got an upgrade. No, we did not fly first class. However, we've got the chance to stay in a

Panorama Club

room for the price of a normal one. The room was really nice but the panorama was somehow out of order.

No Panorama

There is always a snag!

Friday, February 24, 2006

War for Talent

Reading Manpower's latest press release, I realised that we can soon forget all theses wars against something - the next battles will be fought in the War for Talent. Jeffrey Joerres, President of Manpower said:
"In 10 years, we will see many businesses failing because they haven't planned ahead for the talent shortage and are unable to find the people they need to run their businesses. This is not a cyclical trend, as we have seen in the past, this time the talent crunch is for real, and it's going to last for decades."
I reckon, in order to be on the right side, I better acquire some of this talent.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Trees, Run For The Hills

Sämi a.k.a. el zorro a.k.a. the avenger with the red saw a.k.a. ruler over the world's forests has punished another of these criminal deciduous trees for its misdeeds.

You don't need a chainsaw if you have the vocation.

Size Still Matters

I really appreciate that Coop is helping me to save 50 Swiss quid (if I'm going to spend 239). I'm also aware that Swiss love the diminutive. But although I'm not a zealot of chainsaw massacres, I don't see any use for a chainsaw with a blade length of only 35 cm.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Far From Extrication

While pondering why quantum leap is vernacularly used for revolutionary advance, and not in accord with the original meaning of the smallest possible change, I came across...
"...cominciai a credere, che uno, che lascia un’opinione imbevuta col latte, e seguita da infiniti, per venire in un’ altra da pochissimi seguita, e negata da tutte le scuole, e che veramente sembra un paradosso grandissimo, bisognasse per necessità, che fusse mosso, per non dir forzato, di ragioni piu efficaci." Galileo Galilei, Dialogo sopra i due massimi sistemi del mondo, Giornata seconda
...and was surprised to learn that the geocentrism has kind of a renaissance.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Gigot d'Agneau

I'm the CFO of the fabulous The Rover Company. Once a year I have the jitters, because of the audit. This evening, the auditors came to Gomad Mansion™ and scrutinized my accounts and the balance sheet. Of course, I know how to do the job and engaged Toño to draw the attention off to more important subjects - such as:

This is the Gigot d'Agneau with Petite Arvine Risotto.

The books were checked with a bottle of Pazo de Señorans, Blanco, 2004. For the dinner we chose a Mestizaje, Tinto Cosecha, 2004.

Beheading As Sub-Project

Earlier, lay-offs have been announced by my caring employer in information meetings for all employees. That was twice last year and summed up to more than 150 former colleagues. On Friday, word came through about further 105 via an information session for seniors only. The new information policy seems to be tickle-down. But as I learned from reading the slides, dismissals are now declared a sub-project.

But there are so called good-news. The closing down of our premises as threatened by the Handelszeitung seems not to be part of any project - so far.

Soundtrack of Febrero

Don't forget to enjoy the Soundtrack of February over at the México City Monthly.


...or how Microsoft Outlook reminds a protestant of Lent.

My caring employer still urges me to use Microsoft Outlook. One of the compelling features of this tool is that certain holidays are predefined. This morning, I discovered an entry set on next Saturday called Quinquagesima Sunday (Switzerland). Although, I was born and raised in Switzerland, I've never heard of a holiday called Quinquagesima. But thanks to the Reformed Church of Zürich and Wikipedia, I've got enlightened.

Obviously, Quinquagesima is not quite legal, because the Second Vatican Council included the elimination of this term for this Sunday such as for Sexagesimae and Septuagesimae. The names mean fiftieth, sixtieth and seventieth. They denote the approximate number of days between each and Easter. Or, because it's easier to count, the last three Sundays before Lent.

But I still don't know why Outlook puts a Sunday on a Saturday. Maybe, it is because there are only 49 days between Quinquagesima and Easter, when celebrated on a Sunday. Accurateness seems more important that religious tradition, nowadays.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

This Sunday Evening...

...was quite pleasant so far:
  • We had a Rösti with sausages
  • We could choose the undies that Tigresa will not wear very long tonight
  • We discussed the possible benefits of an olive oil and sugar peeling before getting rid of the winterly fur.
  • We had some Pshenitshnaja Vodka

...and I started to think seriously about Pilates.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

You're On Your Own

Discussions at dinner can bring up surprising results. Somehow, we started to talk about why swimming such a great thing. Obviously, swimming can bring people back into a uterus. I never thought about that. My reason why I like to swim has best been described by Jonathan Harvey in his play Beautiful Thing. He let Ste say:
You're on your own when you're swimming. You can't think about nothing else. Just the strokes, and where you are in the pool. Up and down. Up and down.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Argumentum Ad Ignorantiam

Grudgingly I have to admit that my colleague Eberhard actually has a point.

Toño the Brave

Toño was rather courageous by adding mango to the morning smoothie because I detest mango almost as much as spinach.

My distaste for spinach is probably congenital. The distaste for mango is acquired for sure. Actually Migros committed this to me.

Back in 1980, Migros launched a new mango drink. Coincidently, in 1980 there was also a national Swiss boy and girl scouts jamboree. Some marketing fuzzi* must had had the brilliant idea that one could use the one to promote the other. The result was that hundredths of hectolitres of mango drink were shipped to the jamboree. Although the summer of 1980 is in the records as a rather bad one, I can remember some really hot days in the mountains. The Migros' mango drink made only things worse, because it's far too sweet and gooey. It bears thirst rather than appeases it. Drinking Migros' mango drink on a hot day is like a maelstrom that sucks you in and does not spit you out until you can not stand the taste of mango anymore.

Toño however, had the brilliant idea to combine the flavour of mango with the one of passion fruit. This did the trick. I actually liked the smoothie.

* fuzzi: derogative German term for people working in media, advertising or marketing. It is usually used in combination with the field of work.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Passion For Breakfast

Toño surprised me this morning with a smoothie that was enriched with Passion Fruit:

Surprisingly, this tropical fruit is said to be named not for the passionate propensity it promotes but because particular parts of the plant's flowers resemble different symbols of Christ's crucifixion, such as the crown of thorns. Obviously, the term passion referred to Jesus' suffering long before it evolved other, more sultry meanings.

Shocked Out Of Shopping

Amazon has this "Perfect Partner" thing, where they try to delude you into buying a second book for a slight discount. I was close to buy a book about improvisation by Patricia Ryan Madson when Amazon suggested "Beyond Bullet Points: Using Microsoft Powerpoint to Create Presentations That Inform, Motivate and Inspire" as the perfect partner. If the perfect partner for my book is about a tool that was contributing to the disaster with NASA's space shuttle Columbia, then I better not going to buy neither, I reckon.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Happy Boy

I'm totally over the moon. I've received a wonderful gift from my beloved Gatín - a bottle of Almaviva:

The Almaviva is like love and friendship the result of a joint venture - that is in this case between Baron Philippe de Rothschild and Viña Concha y Toro. The synthesis of French tradition and South American soil has delivered an exceptional wine embodying the best of both worlds.

But unlike Count Almaviva in Le nozze di Figaro ossia la folle giornata, I'm not chasing after anyone else. Why should I?

Expected Side Effects

The avian flue is spreading across Europe. I expect that the authorities will ban Die Zauberflöte and Лебединое Озеро from the stages in due course. All scheduled performances will probably be replaced by Der Freischütz.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Día del amor y la amistad

In Mexico the "Día del amor y la amistad" (lit. "Love and Friendship Day") is celebrated today. Not only because of that, I dedicate this song to all my friends and my deliriously beloved Gatín.

A Grass Among Comrades

My flatmate grassed to her fellows at the labour union that I was watching 24 projected onto the wall while cycling on my Klein Quantum-Pro in the drawing room.

I entertain the slight suspicion that the emphasis was not on the Q-Pro.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Get Your Bottle And Glass Printed

I finally found a reason to get into shape:

Philip Heckman's LowTee turns 80es-style T-shirts into speedo-style swimsuits. They even have a sparkling Crystal Collection. Trash can be so fabulous.

Eager To Get Trapped?

In last weeks Alpha, a newspaper supplement for senior positions, Rolf Dobelli strongly advised against doing an MBA. This comes just after I was notified that I could do one rather fast and cheap. Rolf Dobelli claims that MBA degrees are not only created inflationary but also hold the danger that you miss your life! (see article).

But should I trust Rolf Dobelli? His company getAbstract just destroyed the last bits of credibility of the NZZ am Sonntag by producing the ridiculous summaries of literature classics, which this newspaper supplements.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Weekend Pleasures VII

... is making Rösti. This was originally a common breakfast of Swiss farmers. Nevertheless, my family eats it for supper with a milk coffee (50% coffee, 50% hot milk).

Actually we did our Rösti in a bit special way by adding apples and sage, as we have seen it in an old issue of Le Menu.

But the basics of a Rösti stay all the same:
  • use hard-boiling potatoes.
  • boil them at least a day in advance (only real pros can make a good Rösti from raw potatoes)
  • use clarified butter
  • let it time, cook on medium heat
  • don't mix very often while cooking or you turn it into mashed potatoes
  • use a cast-iron pan (it's embarrassing, we haven't one yet).

The actual procedure is very simple:
  • peal potatoes and grate them
  • season with salt and pepper
  • cook as described above.

Weekend Pleasures VI

... is making coffee with a stove-top espresso maker.

Sadly, this pleasure is tarnished. The other day, the one-button-does-it-all-coffee-machine went to blazes. It served well for about a decade (its shelf price was about 2000 Swiss quid! Luckily, I got a 50% discount). Until a replacement has been found, we'll have to rely on the stove-top and enjoy the procedure.

Weekend Pleasures V

...is watching Höhenfeuer as lunch movie.

Höhenfeuer is one of the best love stories that have ever been filmed in Switzerland. Its timeless story is set on a remote farm at the precipitous flanks of Uri. An innocent place, yet the story crescendoes. There lies quite some passion in the Swiss Alps, sometimes it discharges with and sometimes without any warning.

Weekend Pleasures IV

My colleague Sämi usually goes for the wine with the prettiest castle on the label. He had definitely not chosen these wines:

IMHO the Lanzaga and the Vilosell have absolutely fabulous labels. Both have not only a pure Spanish character, they show this also on the shell. True beauty pleases body and soul.

Weekend Pleasures III

...are bigger bums at Gomad Mansion™.

I usually watch DVDs on a code-hacked vintage iMac (my borrowed telly collapsed about 1991). Just to find out whether it works, I borrowed a video projector from my caring employer and connected it to the iMac. Astonishingly, everything is projected just fine - except of the fancy iTunes Visualizer. But there is a cure. According to fad Apple gadget expert Stoipi, I just have to upgrade the iMac OS to X Tiger. I hope my classic baby can handle this wild feline. The mansion will soon be a zoo with all these tigers and dragons that are flooding in.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Weekend Pleasures II

There is something special about soup and childhood memories. I like soup, but soup can be boring as hell, if it is not served as it has to be since I was a child.

First, there have to be manually broken pieces of bread in the plate:

Then the soup has to be poured over the bread:

Surprisingly, I don't like bread soup. With my method, the bread is still crunchy when you eat it. In a bread soup it's just too flabby to be enjoyable. But bread soup is not related to weekends at all - bread soup was served on Thursdays, when I was a child.

Weekend Pleasures I

It's important to start the weekend with the right rhythm. E.g. I like to spend the morning in bed with Toño...

.. reading newspapers.

Upstream Limmat

This Sunday, the city without any problems is going to vote a new parliament, a new executive branch and old mayor and some judges. Also this week, the magazine, which we don't read anymore, published an article, which tells that the Social Democrats are absolutely out and The Green Part is the thing to vote for now:
In Städten ist ein seltsames Phänomen zu beobachten. Jene, die eben noch das Leben in Wohngemeinschaften priesen, gern Bier getrunken haben bis morgens um drei, die immer SP gewählt haben, falls die Afterhourparty nicht bis nach Urnenschliessung dauerte, dieselben wohnen jetzt allein, trinken Tee, werden älter, bürgerlicher - und wählen grün.*
I've already voted a fortnight ago. Lucky for me, I did not vote for neither. One should be ahead of the trend - not with it. There are alternatives!

* In cities a strange phenomenon is to be observed . Those, which just praised the life in shared flats, which drank beer until three in the morning, which always voted for the Social Democrats, if the after hour party lasted not until polling booths had closed, the same live now alone, drink tea, become older, more civil - and vote for the Greens.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Renew Your Gym Membership! Now!

Many thanks to a.t.b. cards.

Arousing Interest In Titles

After reading the last couple of days' Dilberts* [1,2] I can call myself lucky that my caring employer has cancelled the spring course for the IPMA certification. Somehow, I was not looking forward to it anyway. Taking a a glance at the syllabus, I discovered that they too seem to teach how to do things right - when my caring employer is lacking of doing the right things.

But there is an other opportunity that caught my attention. I could gain an Executive MBA in only one semester, because a post degree, I did some years ago, would be fully taken into account. There is no use of an MBA for my job or my ambitions. However, I can't deny that it somehow appealed to me.

Whatever, I was told today twice that "no challenge should be faced without a little charm and a lot of style". Try to put that into an MBA or IPMA certificate.

*I know, my guru detests Dilbert because "He never fights back, or he fights back by being one of those smart-asses at the water cooler [...]".

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Coder's Block

I'm nursing a hideous cold with this...

...and this...

But somehow, this cold did not only affect my throat but also my brain. For quite some time I was looking for an algorithm that would improve the correlation of a track while scan application. I knew, what it's supposed to do but I could just not convert this into code. Last night, I was already in bed, reading some papers while Toño was running his chores, when suddenly the solution appeared to me (though, not as dramatic as the mene, mene, tekel, upharsin to Belshazzar). Nevertheless, I managed to get out of bed again to make a note:

This really did the job and solved the problem fast and elegantly with less than 30 lines. After adjusting the filter parameters, I saw that the tracking resolution and stability is now far better than I would have ever imagined.

Resisting The Temptation

Sometimes one has to look or listen twice until one is sure that it's indeed tongue-in-cheek. This morning, just by accident, I came across a web-page of this kind: Maybe you want some sympathy and comfort from your family and friends; or maybe you just want a big traumatic life experience but nothing seems to ever happen to you. Well, according to this web-page, there's someone out there who can make it happen.

If this page is tongue-in-cheek, it's very subtle... bottom line: brilliantly weird. I was going to share the link, but suddenly, hesitated while typing... No, not because I was abruptly overwhelmed by an attack of inertial political correctness. Far from it. I was actually looking for something, which delights both senses and soul. Shamefully, that corner of the web doesn't. Is there anything out there, which fits my profile?

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Carrying Coals To Newcastle

... or a dragon to Gomad Mansion™. I know. it's absolutely despicable to look a gift horse in the mouth, especially when it's highly appreciated and fitting.

Last evening, we had the pleasure of the Ms. & Mr.Mac's company at Gomad Mansion™. Truly a charming couple, full of wit and repartee, which will celebrate its crystal wedding on Monday. They brought us, apart from some delicious wine, a Dragon Tree:

This is not carrying coals to Newcastle, because Gomad Mansion™ looks like a greenhouse, far from it. But there are already four dragons in the house. This is the one, which I received from my Nepali guide who dragged my old carcass through the Himalayan:

The other three are somewhere on Tigresa's body (I haven't seen all of them).

Dear Ms. & Mr.Mac, It was an absolute pleasure to have you around at the mansion. We have to do this again. Toño knows a lot of delicious Mexican recipes and it can't be bad for me to polish the side-board from time to time.

Spüngli Subverts Swiss Government

A persistent winter smog is damaging my and my fellow confederates' health. Because of this, the authorities highly recommend to use public transport and the speed limit has been reduced to 80 km/h in most parts of the country [see article].

Last week, my dear mother celebrated her birthday. As a good son, I went to visit her and brought some first grade sweets (besides of a homemade apple cake). Of course, I did this by coach and train. On my way, I stopped at Zürich Airport to buy the sweets at Sprüngli.

After the deal was completed, the shop girl mentioned that for the amount of my shopping, I'm entitled to free parking. I was shocked and speechless. The entire nation is suffering and Sprüngli encourages me to increase the burden on my fellow confederates. Shame on them. May their boss choke on a Luxemburgerli.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Beheading Ante Portas?

Now it has even diffused to the press that our company might go to blazes quite soon, as the Handelszeitung wrote this week under the headline: Flaute für die Wunderwaffen (dead calmness for the wonder weapons).

According to this report, our dear mother in Germany will evaluate this summer the option of closing down their Swiss subsidiary (i.e us!) due to lack of customers with the slightest interest in our flashy weapons. This might also split apart an almost historic combination - that is, me (Urs) and Victor, the former boss of my boss in the office next to me.

As you might recall, Ursus and Victor died martyrs back in 303 in Solothurn. They were part of the Theban Legion which was a source of numerous martyrs, among which were Felix and Regula - the patron saints of the town without any problems*. Ursus and Victor managed to escape the martyrdom of Aguanum in 286. Unfortunately, the bloodhounds of emperor Maximian tracked them eventually down and both were beheaded by the sword.

The two saints are usually shown in a suit of armour with banner, sword and shield - and beheaded. Seems like an appropriate symbol of our caring employer to me, if I not doubted our faith.

* as our knobend aka mayor claims.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

How We Learn To Love A Union

Swiss labour union UNIA is scoring like hell and starts frightening the establishment. Well done - and they've just celebrated their first birthday. The unusual is that UNIA is applying the techniques of the business they are trying to put on a short leash:
  • merger
  • tight budget
  • distinctive branding
  • vigorously concerted campaigns
  • cunningly playing the media
  • hiring talent
  • cutting edges (i.e. sacking employees).
UNIA has positioned itself well and is earning respect. But as we learned, the 21st century embraces not only respect but also love. How can we stop worrying and start learning to love a labour union?

Fair trade transformed itself from hippy thingy to big business. It's time that fair work becomes an issue in Switzerland too. No Sweat and American Apparel have shown that this can be successful. If UNIA would apply such an approach and start exploring into marketing fair work products under their brand, the sky would be the limit of love they can earn.

We Stand Strong!

Die Weltwoche, the filthy rag that has fallen from grace of Gomad Mansion™, is fighting hard. Today, they published a favourable portrait of Tigresa. She was shown as a bright example of the new wave in labour action (Tigresa, did you really use the term Superspannend?).

This was a smart move by Die Weltwoche. Notwithstanding, we will not move - not one inch!

By the way, on January 5, at 10:10 pm, CASH TV will bring a statement of Tigresa regarding the 1000 Swiss Francs job that are supposed to reduced unemployment. Since a month, Tigresa is earning six of them (as Die Weltwoche grassed), but already spent more than half of such a job on job-related traffic tickets (as I just grassed)... It's hard to stand strong while pushing the edge of the envelope.