Sunday, April 30, 2006

Happy Birthday Katalin

July must be either a very boring or an inspiring month. We are rushing from birthday party to birthday party. Today, it's the big day of Katalin, the swim coach of Toño and me. We met for the first time under her scrutinising eyes. She is kind of a mother to our love.

Besides of a lovely present, we will bring a bowl of nut rolls - or snails, as we call them in Switzerland.

La Primavera Despierta Los Sentidos...

This is how the nights are, the sunsets and the dawns too. This is how life is when the apocalitzin sound plays its best beats. Join us and dance with us to the Soundtrack of Abril over at the México City Monthly.


In the endless series Things I like about Switzerland I feature today a kind of yogurt that is anything but floppily creamy:

We call them stichfest. I'm not quite sure how to translate this. It means something like firm, tight, dense or penetration-resistant. They come in various flavours, such as nature (actually the one without any flavour), chocolate, caramel, vanilla, maple syrup and mocha (my favourite).

Saturday, April 29, 2006

My Favourite Kitchen Appliances

There are many kitchen appliances which are bare necessities. These are my top barest:

3rd: Springform Cake Mould

The upright rim, which can be unclamped and detached from the bottom of the mould, makes it so much easier to get the cake out of the mould in one piece.

2nd: Stainless Steel Soap

Cooking without garlic and onions is simply impossible. Tears are not the worst side effect of them. Persistent odour is one, but did you ever try to pee after chopping garlic or chili? The only reliable remedy is rubbing a stainless steel "soap" between your hands under running water for 30 seconds. Don't ask me how it works, it just does.

1st: REX Economy Peeler

A Swiss design classic from 1947. The u-shaped aluminium bow has a moveable stainless-steel cutter head, which also serves as a stop bar, preventing the blade from penetrating too far into the potato for economical peeling. The inventor of the Rex peeler was Alfred Neweczeral (1899-1958), the son of Prussian immigrants. He founded Zena AG, which still manufactures and sells the potato peeler. They even sell a gold-plated version.

On The Prowl Again

My flat mate Tigresa is now my former flat mate. She has packed her belongings and has moved into another shared flat. Rumours say, it's at Zürich's gold coast.

Why? Let me explain. Toño and I plan to move together in due course*. A friend of mine is moving as well and he offered us his apartment by September**. I informed Tigresa about both a couple of months ago. Although, we still have months to go, Tigresa was afraid to end homeless on the cold streets of Zürich and grabbed a good opportunity that came along.

Moving in with me was not the easiest thing. I had lived on my own since I was 15. And just six days before Tigresa moved in, I found the love of my life. I've never had problem to be alone, I'm not a people person. And suddenly there are two people living rather close to me. The last 16 months have probably been the period of biggest change in my life.

Tigresa did not disappear without any trace. She left us her freezer! We are already planing to make tons of Pelmeni, a Siberian dish. By the way, this is Tigresa in Siberia:

* as soon as Toño receives his Swiss citizenship. Switzerland has about 3000 different procedures to obtain citizenship (I don't exaggerate). Where we live, it requires being 12 years in Switzerland, of which the last 6 in the same town. Because of that, Toño has to stay in a suburban town until his request gets through. We expect this to happen at the beginning of 2007.

** Although I consider it the best apartment in our area, we did not go for it. There are no grocery stores (i.e. Migros!) within walking distance. I haven't got a car (I cycle or am driven). It's not very convenient to live in a beautiful apartment without supplies.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Humped to Death

Maybe you remember this lovely poster that had been published by Ms.Mac a while ago:

Its slogan "Away from the Gas, We're having fun!" should encourage drivers to be a bit more careful and let frogs and toads pass, so that they can take care of reproduction.

But that does not mean that the females are out of peril as today's NZZ brought to my attention.

When the female frog reaches the pond and finds a male suitable to mate, they undergo something called amplexus. In this process, the male frog grasps a female with his front legs while she lays her eggs. At the same time, he fertilizes them with the fluid containing sperm. This mostly happens in the water.

We all know that men can be quite horny and tend to begrudge other males. This is extremely dangerous for the first female to arrive. It can be that several males jump onto her back. They don't let loose - even when the female was drowned. Without so much as fun.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Why For Girls Only?

Whatever, get natural!

In Limbo

I'm on holidays, but still write something about work. I dropped by yesterday, to get my laptop repaired and to fill the expenses forms. On the white board, I discovered that the company has given itself a new organisational structure. The future will tell, whether this will kick us out of agony.

The major problem of my caring employer is that we build products that are not very much sought after anymore. We are big in gun based low-level air defence. This became somehow so out of fashion that no army is butting significant money into it - especially not for our overpriced appliances. Our sales hit rock bottom. I would not put any money into a bet whether our company will still exist in five years time.

Apparently, against all odds, there are still some people which believe that we could prevail. Next weekend, the Group for Switzerland Without Army (GSoA) is launching an Initiative to prohibit the selling of Swiss weapons abroad by a new clause in the Swiss constitution. This time, they try to learn from the flaws in an earlier attempt by deliberately excluding dual-use products.

Which party will pass the finish line first?

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

The Photographer

An unauthorised exclusive!

I've finally obtained a picture of my flat mate's lover - sorry boyfriend as she referred to him the other day:

That is, I think the person on this picture is him. It was found in the memory of a camera on which a picture of him was supposed to be. In addition, Tigresa mentioned once that he has something of a pirate. Both are evidence enough.

Our love birds have been dating for over a year, but I've never seen nor met him. I've missed him once by mere 15 minutes when I was coming back from Southeast Asia. He's kind of shy, though.

Tigresa refers to him just as The Photographer. They met when Tigresa was campaigning against the local branch of Carrefour. The Photographer had to take pictures of Tigresa in front of Carrefour for the front cover of a newspaper. Surprisingly, he had to take some additional shots for The Archive. This was the beginning of thrilling romance that still lasts.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Freshened Up Memories

I'm back in the arms where I belong. Toño got not only up far to early in the morning to meet me at the airport, he also brought me a bunch of lovely flowers and a present from the South Tyrol:

These are small apples preserved in Grappa. A brilliant gift that combines my favourite fruit with the opportunity of getting seriously sozzled.

The South Tyrol is not as innocent as it might look at a first glance. The last time I was there, I had a crush on Toño, but we had not copped off yet. That was soon to change...

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Love, Passion & Eternal Grooviness

On this date, 110 years after Vladimir Lenin, my adorable flat mate Tigresa was born.

Tigresa puts the fear of God into all arrantly sly employers in Zürich and blows up a lot of dust in Swiss labour action. Nevertheless, Tigresa is the joy of the sun and her mere passing lets flowers blossom everywhere.

I pay my compliment to Tigresa on this wonderful day and wish her a life full of love, passion and eternal grooviness.

Wherever you are on this lovely planet, please pause for a moment, focus a flower and drink to the health of Tigresa. Many thanks.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Somewhere Over India

I'm flying home - that is, we just came back from today's sailing and are playing the funnel game by forwarding problems to the head office. This will take probably another hour. But then the work part of this trip is over for me.

Tomorrow by noon, a taxi will pick us up and send us to Kuala Lumpur. Before I will be able to hug and kiss my deliriously beloved Toño on Sunday morning, I will cross my boss somewhere in the airspace over India. The poor sod is flying back to Malaysia and has to bring the current trials successfully to an end. It will not be easy. I'll keep my fingers crossed.

Toño, I'm on my way.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Tending An Italien

This week, I have to take care of Berardo, an Italian colleague. This include odd things, such as dining daily at an Italian restaurant although I'm in an Asian country with a wide range of delicious cuisines. The strangest thing happened yesterday. We honoured the sultans's birthday by sunbathing an entire day at a sandy beach - at the Pangkor Island Beach Resort actually.

Toño knows how difficult it is, to drag me to a beach. It's just not my thing to roast in the sun and being exposed to huge amounts of sand. And dangerous it was. Berardo was almost killed by a falling baby coconut.

I made the best I could do under these circumstances and finished the novel Kilbrack by Jamie O'Neill. He is the author of the masterpiece At Swim, Two Boys, which happens to be my favourite book.

But now we're back to sailing.

Tomorrow could be my last sailing day in this project. And again it looks like it will be a long day.

Monday, April 17, 2006


On Saturday, I went to see Dr. Diong Mee Nee, for a further blood pressure measurement. I'm down to 130/80, which is in an area called "pre-hypertension". She reckons that my high blood pressure was stress related. I'm probably a borderline case - that is, I have a rather high normal yet still save blood pressure. However, I jump into dangerous values under stress. I probably have to take it a bit more relaxed.

Dr. Diong Mee Nee had also received the test results from the blood and urine analyses. Everything is fine, except of the LDL cholesterol, which is also in the borderline high area. Bugger! Dr. Diong Mee Nee suggests that I optimise my diet, which I consider already rather cholesterol aware, and supplement it with omega-3 fatty acid, which I think is codliver oil. Wrrrah!

Ho summarised the results with "Welcome to the Forties Club". I'm not yet 40! there are still more than 16 months to go! Seems like another borderline situation.

Change of Subject. What will happen further this week? Tomorrow we will sail again. It's surface firing with the big gun. A colleague from Rome will arrive today, and together we will try to improve the shell tracing. On Wednesday, there will be a public holiday, because it's the birthday of His Royal Highness Sultan Azlan Muhibbuddin Shah Ibni Almarhum Sultan Yussuf Izzuddin Shah Ghafarullahu-Lah, the ruler of the state Perak. After that, there will be to more days at sea.

The spotter party is heading for the tug.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Buganvillas Help (a bit)

I'm spending Easter in Malaysia and not as planed with my deliriously beloved Toño in the South Tyrol. My boss returned today. In the worst case, I would have to stay another fortnight. If I'm lucky, I can return in a week. Deplorably, things start to move in Thailand and I might have to go there rather soon.

I miss Toño. I want to look into his eyes, being hugged by him, kissed at places, I haven't even dreamed of. If I wake up, I search for him in vain.

At least there are a lot bougainvillea plants here in Malaysia, one of Toño's favourite plants. They are popular in areas with tropical or warm climates, such as Mexico, where Toño comes from (they call then buganvillas). I can't pass a bougainvillea without thinking of him. And it's at least another week... *sigh*

Dull Orient Star

When I have to work in the shipyard in Malaysia, I stay at a hotel called Orient Star. They claim to have three stars. Besides of the one in the name, I can't see any other. Sadly for me, there are hardly any alternatives in the area. However, this is brilliant for the Orient Star, because there tag line seems to be We Don't Care. They did not aim too high.

Close to midnight on Wednesday, after a 17 hours work day at sea, I came back to the hotel. I was knackered, my head spun, my body was not yet used to solid ground under the feet, and I was soaked with sweat (it's hot in Malaysia). All I wanted, was to have a shower, take a call from my beloved Toño, and crash into my bed. Disappointingly but not unsurprising, the door lock refused to open and did not let me enter my room.*

The receptionist said that the technician went home, and that I have to stay in another room. I replied that I have to leave for work at 6:30 am and that I have neither cloths to change nor a toothbrush without entering my room. She asked, if I haven't got a colleague who could help me out. Thinking of future salary talks, I reckoned, it's not a wise idea to interrupt my boss' night rest in order to ask him for a toothbrush and a pair of his undies.

All help I got from the receptionist was a "Sorry" accompanied by a deal-with-it smile. It did not really cheer me up that my replacement room had a broken phone and an air conditioning that was blowing straight to my head while sleeping.

Did I mention that I haven't received my newspaper for two days?

* Once, the same happened to me in Birmingham. There I was put in the bar with all drinks on the house. The duty manager himself broke the lock. All my things where brought to a better room, in which I could stay for the same rate.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Why No More Seafood?

I went to see a doctor this morning, Ho's GP actually. Since Sunday, my fingers and feet are numb, I'm having a light headache and some nausea. Dr. Diong Mee Nee had not the most comforting news, she measured a blood pressure of 150/100 - obviously, beyond a healthy value, more like hypertension! She reckons that my blood circulation is somehow not very good. For immediate treatment, she subscribed me Gincare* and Aspirin. Both are rather mild, which I consider rather comforting.

The GP also asked for some blood and urine. I'm summoned for Saturday, to see the results of the analysis. Until then I should keep up swimming and avoid seafood. Why seafood? I haven't got a clue.

* Traditionally used to improve blood circulation. Works as a free-radical scavenger. Suppresses the aggregation of platelet and prevents thrombus formation. Helps to enhance the dilatation of blood vessels. Normalizes the blood pressure. Improves the tolerance of hypoxia. Derived 100% from plants, no side effect and suitable for long-term use.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Dinner and Attitude

On Saturday, we were invited for dinner by Ho, the head of our local team. He brought us to a restaurant called Peng Yu. I did not understand a word they said while Ho and his wife were ordering. And I'm still not quite certain, if I know everything I've eaten. However, It was absolutely delicious. If you ever make it to this part of Malaysia, pay Mrs. Ah Hing a visit:

Nevertheless the language issues, I learned a Chinese word that night: Kiasu. Actually it's a Hokkien, written like 怕输, and stands for 'extreme fear of losing'. For example, when you have to buy the same stuff as your neighbours, not because you really want it, but because your are afraid it would tarnish your reputation, if you don't have it. The Malaysians claim that the Singaporean are very kiasu.

I recommend, you book your flight to Malaysia a.s.a.p. Others might be faster in experiencing the pleasure of eating at Peng Yu.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

The Hotel In View

I just completed a promising test, which ventures me to say that the main problem is solved. Now I can relax and proceed to some more pool related activities for the rest of the weekend. There are still some minor problems to be solved, such as a somewhat more sophisticated clutter suppression. But I can't be arsed to do this before I had a proper swim (there is not much else to do around here). About 24 hours* ago, I commanded one of our sensors towards the hotel where I soon will be swimming:

What else will happen this weekend? My deliriously beloved Toño will bring my mother a huge chocolate Easter Egg from Sprüngli. And my flatmate Tigresa will be marching at a demonstration in Bern to support the workers of the Swismetal plant, who have been on strike for quite some time. It's reassuring to know that there are some people, consecrating themself to a better cause.

*) As you can see from the time stamp at 15:14:45. This is in Hotel (UTC+8), this blog is timed in Bravo (UTC+2). Hence the difference of 6 hours

Friday, April 07, 2006


We've started to give the days themes. Yesterday, my boss called it "we don't blame anyone else". We had to remind us several times of it to prevent diversion, but did obey it quite well (although we had many reasons not to).

Today's theme is "stop complaining" as commanded by Malaysia's prime minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, who said:
"So why are you complaining? What more do you want?"

So how are things here in Malaysia? The problem my boss is working on, seems suddenly solved. He has now to find out, why it worked. The thing I'm working on, works in simulation and with recorded data, but gives inconsistent results with real-time data. I've got five days to solve it (two with access to the system). Hence, there will not be much of a weekend for me. By the way, it's damn hot and humid (but I'm supposed not to complain, though).

Monday, April 03, 2006

Room With Work View

Early this morning, I arrived safely in Malaysia and was brought on four hour ride by a taxi to the hotel. Unfortunately, the hotel did not give me a pool view room. Instead, I can see the backyard of the police station and if I look straight ahead, the shipyard where I'm working here.

For the rest of the week we will be sailing and running trials. So there will be not a lot of updates.

Toño Is Top...

...and his employer made it second place. The Weltwoche* published lists of the best and the worst print products of Switzerland. Vinum, the European wine magazine, made second place on the best-of list. How amazing is that? It's even better if you know that my deliriously beloved Toño works for Vinum. This year, I helped out twice at wine tastings and so I feel a little proud myself. Weltwoche said:
Vinum (...) is Europe's best wine magazine. This is a great success for a title, which started 25 years ago as a pastime print. A balanced mix of wine stories and tastings - and, surprisingly for a magazine in this field, without ballyhooed PR.
*) I know that I don't read that filthy rag anymore. But I've got a free copy on the plane and one should never look a gift horse in the mouth.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Spring Reviewed

And here is my say to Migros' Spring Yogurt collection:

  • Pêche Melba
    A traditional French dessert that combines two favourite summer(!) fruits: peaches and raspberry sauce accompanying vanilla ice cream. It is was created as an homage to Australian opera singer Nellie Melba. Migros' version is so dominated by raspberry that the peaches haven't got a chance at all. Migros failed on this. It's boring and an insult to Nellie Melba.
  • Pistachio
    I love pistachio, but unfortunately, I don't like pistachio in any combination with other food. This yogurt has only 2 percent pistachio in it, but the flavour is still too intense for my taste.
  • Papaya
    This yogurt finally pleases my senses. The flavours are well balanced and the temper of spring is matched.

Yesterday, we managed to get the geraniums pruned and re-potted. Now they have to stay at about 16°C for about 3 weeks.

I hope, I will be back from Malaysia till then (we're wading knee deep through problems down there). But now I should pack (I supposed to be at the airport in a couple of hours) and kiss Toño out of bed, so that he can help me with the ironing ;)

Saturday, April 01, 2006

It's Lena

I was completely wrong. The name of Anton's girl friend is Lena and not Svetlana. It's so embarrassing.

The ballet (Les Noces) was brilliant - and so is my deliriously beloved Toño. Isn't he adorable handsome in his dinner suit?

I Think It's Svetlana...

Last night Anton and his girl friend from Kirgistan came to Gomad Mansion.

I'm really bad and especially at names, but I'm just not quite sure whether Anton's girl friend's name is Svetlana. Even Toño, who's social skills are far better than mine, forgot her name immediately. It's so embarrassing. However, we will get another chance tonight. Anton and Svetlana are invited by their host to the ballet at Zürich's Opera. Purely by chance, Toño and I are also invited to the ballet (not by their host but by the amazing Isabel). So we will have the chance to verify if it's really Svetlana.