Wednesday, August 30, 2006


Women have it so much better. They have garter and girdle to keep their stockings in place. This equipment has the advantage that it also provides rapturous delight to (at least some) men. Why is there nothing similar brilliant for men's shirts. My shirt never keeps stuck in my trousers. I constantly have to stick it back in.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

The Presents

Last week I could celebrate one of my birthdays (I lost count). I received countless text messages from lots of really nice people. Many thanks and kisses. That was superb. However some r-e-a-l-l-y nice people just could not resist the temptation to actually give me a present. Here they are in the order of their receipt:

My deliriously beloved Toño did not only give me the bare essentials to serve champagne (cooler, linen towel and a silver-coated ring with velvet inner section to prevent precious drops from rolling down the bottle), but also bottle of vintage Jacquesson. Those are hard to get. If you see one, buy it! ...and give it to us. We have every thing to take care of it. Tools, passion, name it.

My former flatmate Tigresa did not only invite my for lunch, but also gave me a German edition of The Memory of Running by Ron McLarty. The book is labelled "reading edition". Tigresa though that this means display copy. I can assure her that it's the proper book. The preface revealed that the book was initially only published as an audio book. It made it into a more respected print issue after Stephen King recommended it in his "The Pop of King" column in Entertainment Weekly. It's supposed to be a real page turner. Hence, if you're into sport, it's probably better if you get yourself the audio version. You might make some additional rounds around the block...

Princess Switzerland surprised me with a box of exclusive olive oil. It's fair trade and everything. We are in the middle of evaluating a new olive oil. We definitely have to include this Claro shops into the process. I can tell you, it's easier to find new underwear that is both randy and comfortable than a decent olive oil. Many thanks Carlina, you hit the nail on the head.

My dear mother gave me a box of those delicious Gottlieber Hüppen. They print an expiration date on the box. Probably the most useless date ever. These sweets last a couple of days, tops (independent of the number of boxes you give me - give it a try).

No, this was not the birthday present from Christine. But I received this paper model kit of a monastery from her around the date of my birthday. She nicked it for me at her school. Obviously, the pupils are no interested in this kind of pedagogical entertainment anymore. I'll need the thing for an event next week. However, I was supposed to pick up my real present at a dinner party next week at her place. Unfortunately, my caring employer sends me to a seminar (as usual on a very short notice) and now we have to reschedule. I hate to wait for presents and even more to miss one of Christine's dinners.

I hope, I haven't forgotten anybody or anything. Stay in the flow!

Monday, August 28, 2006


This weekend, Toño and I did not only reap the fruits of life...

... but also tried to preserve them. My brother has loads of eggplants...

and who is more experienced in handling fruits of this dimension than Toño (and I ;).

After a proper rub, the eggplants were chopped, blanched and filled into meticulously prepared glasses.

The glasses went straight into my mother's good old sterilizer.

After putting the glasses up to ¾ of their height into cold water, the lid and thermometer were mounted and the heat turned on for an hour.

Today, they will get their second hourly session (only tomatoes and zucchinis are already well sterilized after one).

We were well prepared for this. We've bought a book about preserving and consulted loads of experienced women, such as my mother, my sisters, Anigna, Tina and Christine. All these experiences and our passion went into these glasses.

While the glasses were in the hot water, we went to the elderberry tree.

We spare you the tedious part were we had to get the berries of the panicles, but only the good ones (think Cinderella without pigeons). After this experience however, cooking the jam was piece of cake.

Now, we are definitely prepared for winter.

Saturday, August 26, 2006


This evening we are going to set a counterpoint to Robbie. Assurd is visiting Lucerne for the more accessible street part of the rather posh Lucerne Festival.

We discovered Assurd earlier this year at a Wine & Dine & Music. So far it was the most flabbergasting musical experience of the year. These women sing traditional Neapolitan songs with a verve and vengeance, I've never heard before in any field of music. Only a few decades ago, women like those of Assurd would have been burned at the stake.

Friday, August 25, 2006

The Shining Star

While Toño and I were being entertained at the Wankdorf Stadium by Robbie*, America** faced a shameful defeat. Not that they still have no clue whatsoever, what they miss by refusing to be entertained by the biggest jack of the entertaining trade in the entire zen and acentric universe. They also lost the only planet ever discovered by an American. Once known as the smallest, coldest, and most distant planet from the Sun, Pluto has been formally downgraded from an official planet to a dwarf planet by the International Astronomical Union (IAU) on August 24, 2006.

But who cares for planets. What counts is the star in the centre:

Not that you get the wrong idea. I've nothing against America or Americans. August 24, 2006 has just not been their day. However, it was our day. We were entertained by Robbie Williams. Shit, we love him!

* Ms.Mac, RPW sends you his very best in return. He is very proud of you and how you and Mr.Mac are bringing up your antändige offspring. You're an inspiring example. Keep up the good work. By the way, it's a shame that Mr.Mac had spotted you first.
** Americans probably also dont't get the pun with the Young Boys playing at the Wankdorf.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Trivia Thursday - Combat of Queens

In Valais, a canton of Switzerland, they have a tradition called Combat of Queens. No, this has nothing to do with man on man action, far from it. It's neither associated with bees. We are taking about a fight, where the heavy weight starts at 1,300 pounds. It looks like this:

This is no bullfight either. As the term queen suggests, it's about females - a cow fight. It is derived from the natural habit of cows to determine the leader of the herd. Any cow that backs down from a fight is eliminated until one cow is left standing in the ring.

Each year, the Valais hosts a series of cow fights known as Combats de reines ("Combat of queens"). The winner is called La Reine des Reines ("the queen of queens"). The cows come from the local Herens breed, named after the Val d'Hérens, a mountain valley.

If you want to see it with your own eyes, then you can go to Raron on September 24 or order the DVD of last years top fights.

Fingers Crossed

"Any life is made up of a single moment, the moment in which a man finds out, once and for all, who he is."
This line is attributed to Jorge Luis Borges, who was born on this date in 1899. Just by coincidence Toño and I will see someone tonight who has found it out already. He's an entertainer. Yes, we are going to be entertained by Robbie himself! How was I able to sleep for the last couple of months, do I asks myself.

Having plans to meet Robbie Williams tonight, means that I have to be extra careful today. Three years ago, I had an appointment in Geneva with him, but I missed it, because I was in an emergency room with a broken foot and skull. One of those silly SUV knocked me of my bicycle just a few hours before I was due to meet him. I was in the right of way, but according to the police a bit to fast (although it was uphill). Please keep your fingers crossed for today.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

I want this now, not later!

One of the things I hate about flying is that I always get the feeling that I pay far too much. Or at least the price I pay is never close to the figure the airlines use in their ads. Supposedly, it's all about timing.

Word came through that at least for the U.S. of America, there is a website helping to decide the lingering question "Do I buy now or do I buy later?". Farecast searches flights from 55 American cities and claims to predict if prices will increase or decrease in the future.

I hope they get out of the Beta phase in due course and that they evolve their site to good old Europe even faster.

Added Later
I just remembered a promising business model suggested by my colleague Hugo, which would benefit from the repeatedly increased airport security measures: Nudism Airline. One look and all checks are done - no more frisking and other humiliating treatments.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Already the Flip Side

Now it's official and on all notice boards of the premises: I'm the new pointy-haired (ad interim). I'd hardly arrived this morning when I had already the first postulant in my office. A controller complaining about the little appreciation of their reporting demands by our department. Hoo-ray/Wey-hey and up she rises, Early in the morning...

Finally Something Really Useful

Do you remember all those useful presents you received over the years? All those socks, pyjamas and school stationary? So do I.

However, in the wee hours of the day, I received a really really useful present: A Champagne Cooler. How AbFab is that.

Considering that I haven't got the place for huge smashing parties (the fridge is a bit too small for that) and taking the law of the diminishing marginal utility into account, an additional champagne cooler would not be of much use anymore. Hence for everyone, who wants to give me a present (who wouldn't), you'll have to find something else.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Saturday, August 19, 2006

First Harvest

We can finally save some quid. The first chilies are ripe.

They went straight up a chicken's Garry Glitter and are now hard at work to make our dinner extra special. We need the energy. We helped a swim buddy of ours moving his apartment. There are still people out there who haven't reached the proper age.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Lack of Discipline

Yesterday, a colleague of mine, i.e. a soon to be subordinate, took me for a ride. He asked if I could help to lift and mount a heavy part. It would take only 15 minutes. Ha! My IWC Mark XII told me that it was more like three and a halve hours.

It was an outdoor job and at least the weather was fine:

By the way, I live behind the red dot.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Rhythm of the City

Be ready! From tomorrow on, the 2006 edition of will enchant the airwaves (and cablewaves). Put any sleep on hold and enjoy every second. It will only last until September, 10.

Finally an alternative to the Mexico City Monthly.

Bacchante 2006

If one has to name the 20 best wine makers of Switzerland, vintager Hans Ulrich Kesselring were among them. Yesterday, The Rover Company organised a visit to his marvelous Schlossgut Bachtobel at the hillside of the Ottenberg.

Kesselring is a unique character. He reads and travels a lot to see the developments of wine making in the world. But in the end, he tests the techniques by himself to decide, whether they help to bring out the true character of his wines. Kesselring even develops his own analytical methods.

Thanks to Toño's connections, we were accompanied by Barbara Meier-Dittus. She is an acknowledged expert in wine making and journalist for wine magazine Vinum. Barbara helped us to understand Kesselring's universe and did not let a single question unanswered. It's her unique ability to avoid the typical lingo and to explain all aspects of wine in a simple yet vivid language.

I can't imagine a better way to have spent last Saturday. [More pictures]

By the way, the family of Hans Ulrich Kesselring lived in the house were I was conceived and born until 1847. A year later, my grand-grandfather bought the place.

Strictly Indoors

It's nasty out there and it will probably rain only once today. We have one of those days that just asks for breakfast in bed and other bed-related indoor activities.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Coitus Reservatus

I've been appointed new boss ad interim of our department (comprising 8 talented yet quite stubborn engineers). That is, I have to do the job without the regalia. Nonetheless, Toño thought this qualifies for a sweet indulgence:

Our superiors and personal claim that they could not yet complete the formal appointment process. My boss will leave for good by the end of August. I'm supposed to be the most likely succeeder and I know the ropes already. Hence, I'll have to step in.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Trivia Thursday - Geometry of Music

I am D-503. I am the Builder of the Integral. I am only one of the mathematicians of the One State. My pen, more accustomed to mathematical figures, is not up to the task of creating the music of unison and rhyme. But I might as well attempt to record what I see, what I think - or, more exactly, what we think. (Yes, that’s right: we. And let that also be the title of these records: We.) So these records will be manufactured from the stuff of our life, from the mathematically perfect life of the One State, and, as such, might they become, inadvertently, regardless of my intentions, a poem? Yes - I believe so and I know so.
This is D-503, the protagonist of Yevgeny Zamyatin's dystopian novel We. D-503 lives in the One State. Its society is based on the believe that free will is the cause of unhappiness, and that citizens' lives should be controlled with mathematical precision based on the system of industrial efficiency created by Taylor. E.g. music is based on algorithms and sung by the Music Factory.

Maybe we just came a bit closer to the One State. Dmitri Tymoczko, a Princeton University composer, has published a paper in Science called The Geometry of Musical Chords (7 July 2006, 313: 72-74). Tymoczko researched topology and non-Euclidean geometry to come up with a new and comparatively simple way to see how the best-sounding music is constructed. [read more]

I was fighting my entire time in school with the hideous comma rules of the German language. They (and orthography) ruined numerous marks. Not before university, I was told an engineering approach to it: "Put a comma when the logical level of expression changes". This did the trick for me. Maybe, I have to read Tymoczko's paper to get a grip of music.

[More about Zamyatin in another blog by The Measures Taken: Art is a branch of Mathematics: Zamyatin and Soviet Socio-Fantasy]

Monday, August 07, 2006

(Soon) From Siberia With Love

Do you see that picture in the header of this page? It was taken near Oymyakon, the coldest village on earth (I was actually sitting in one of the two trucks, when it was taken). A few minutes ago, Toño and I decided to go there in February. It will be Toño's first and my eighth trip to Siberia. We will drive about 2000 km through the Siberian winter. Most of them without any roads on frozen rivers and winter trails. Actually, in this area you can only drive in winter. There is hardly anything that can be called a road. If you switch off the engine more than half an hour, you can try to make a fire under the engine and pray that in some hours it will start again. I'm soooooo exited. How am I supposed to sleep till then?

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Movie Mania - 1985

I love movies. The really great thing about Zürich is that movies are shown in their original version. We are not tortured by dubbing. I'm crap at learning languages in classes. Thankfully to Zürich's theatre owners, I at least made some progress with the English language.

Some days ago, fabulous Rob7534 reminded me that I haven't been in a cinema for ages. Hence, it's more than appropriate to wallow myself in reminiscences of better times. Here is the first of my more intense cinematic years (notably a year when I had to support myself from about $750 per month):
  1. Akropolis Now (still the best Swiss road movie)
  2. Dune (I had a yawn race with the worms in the movie)
  3. Apocalypse Now
  4. Ghostbusters (this was Swiss premier show at midnight with an audience dressed as ghosts)
  5. Tightrope (now memories whatsoever)
  6. Purple Rain (although I adore Prince, I still don't like the title song)
  7. The Noah's Ark Principle (the corner stone of Roland Emmerich's career)
  8. Amadeus
  9. The Cotton Club
  10. The Killing Fields
  11. 2010
  12. Rope (the murder with no cut, i.e. this movie has no cuts and the guest was dead on time)
  13. The Company of Wolves
  14. Ordeal by Innocence
  15. Er Moretto (probably my first gay flick - and it's a tough and disturbing one)
  16. City Heat
  17. Beverly Hills Cop (I saw (partially) a rerun on HBO lately. Did we really like this movie back then?)
  18. Ghostbusters (this time with less ghosts in the audience)
  19. Je vous salue, Marie (my first by Jean-Luc Godard)
  20. A passage to India (as uneventful as the book)
  21. A Soldier's Story
  22. Falling in Love
  23. Der Bulle & das Mädchen (Prochnow at his best)
  24. Mass Appeal
  25. Brazil (at least for me the greatest of all films)
  26. Brazil
  27. Witness
  28. Birdy (I just don't like Nicolas Cage. He is talented but there is nothing I fancy with him)
  29. The Little Drummer Girl
  30. Best Defense (indefensible bad)
  31. Into the Night (why does John Landis work for TV only nowadays?)
  32. C'era una volta il West
  33. 48 Hrs.
  34. Monty Python and the Holy Grail (for me it's not blasphemy but an homage)
  35. Monty Python Live at the Hollywood Bowl (4 minute extract)
  36. Don Camillo (embarrassing, but it's on the list)
  37. The Blues Brother (the yearly treat, at least)
  38. Subway (I sooo fancied Eric Serra, the bassist)
  39. Otto - Der Film
  40. A View to a Kill
  41. King David
  42. Dance with a Stranger
  43. The Blues Brother
  44. Stop Making Sense (it had been running for over two years in Zürich, there is no record I listened to more in my life)
  45. Desperately Seeking Susan (Yes, the Madonna thingy)
  46. Oberst Redl
  47. Midnight Express (on my sister's recommendation, probably to keep me from drug smuggling or so)
  48. The Falcon and the Snowman
  49. Höhenfeuer (just rated the best Swiss movie ever, despite the intense sisterly love)
  50. Prizzi's Honor
  51. Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome
  52. The Purple Rose of Cairo
  53. Ran (my first Kurosawa)
  54. Der Rekord
  55. Back to the Future (still my favourite product placement: Marty McFly: "Calvin? Wh... Why do you keep calling me Calvin?" Lorraine Baines: "Well, that is your name, isn't it? Calvin Klein? It's written all over your underwear.")
  56. Year of the Dragon
  57. The Meaning of Life (And finally, monsieur, a wafer-thin mint)
  58. The Emerald Forest
  59. Rendez-vous
  60. The Black Cauldron
  61. Cocoon.
Surprisingly, there are only about three movies I don't remember anymore.

And here as a bonus, some stills from our own flick "Inspector McTup", which we released in 1984:

Friday, August 04, 2006

Fly Air Berlin!

It was only a fortnight ago that I regained frequent flyer status with Star Alliance with all its fabulous privileges, and there is already someone trying to darken my joyful exuberance. It is actually not just someone, but our honourable CEO, who has decreed that our preferred carrier is now Air Berlin. Bastard!

When I regained my poise, I went to Air Berlin's web page to have a look at their route network. To my surprise, I learned that there are loads of direct flights from Zürich, especially to Spain. I've been there already for business purposes this year. Unlike with Swiss, with Air Berlin, I would had a direct connection:

Since half an hour, I'm proud member 130484543 of Top Bonus - the frequent flyer program of Air Berlin. I reckon, such obsequious abeyance obedience of our CEO's decree asks for an immediate salary raise.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Trivia Thursday - Moony Run

I loath jogging. It really takes a lot to get me running. But I've learned that on the moon, even I might prefer to run. Who would have thought of that when we recall the astronauts walking in their Apollo suits. Even more bizarre is that this was already (unintentionally) explained in the 19th century.

It goes back to William Froude (1810-1879), who was the first to formulate reliable laws for the resistance that water offers to ships and for predicting their stability. Especially, his is remembered in fluid dynamics by the Froude number named after him.

Christopher Carr, a researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has recently dicovered that the Fround number explains the counter-intuitive finding, that if you want to conserve energy, on the moon running rather than walking is the best plan:
The Froude number is calculated by squaring a person's walking (or running) speed, and dividing the result by his leg length and (crucially) the strength of the local gravitational field. If the Froude number exceeds 0.5, then it is more efficient to run than to walk. On the moon and Mars, where gravity is weaker than on Earth, that is generally the case.
Now I just have to get around the math to apply this to cycling on the moon.

[Source: The Economist]

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Going PHB

My move toward pointy-haired is getting closer. I just had a meeting with the boss of R&D. I'm definitely short-listed to replace my boss. I'm now supposed to undergo an assessment.

[The Godfathers' original]

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Treason on 1st of August

Today, Switzerland is celebrating the 1st of August, i.e. our National Holiday. We are commemorating the signing of a treaty on this date in 1291 on a meadow at the banks of the scenic Lake Lucerne, as the legend says. Nowadays, we call this treaty the Federal Charter. It was signed by the representatives of the three forest cantons of Uri, Schwyz, and Unterwalden after the death of King Rudolph I. He was also well known as Rudolph of Habsburg. The ancestral castle of the Habsburg is on Swiss soil, but they are better known as the rulers of Austria. It was then six years later that the members of the treaty had to defend their pact for the first time against Habsburg's army. The fight was fierce. The Swiss applied various techniques of asymmetrical warfare and did not care to obey any rule of knightly fight. Of course, they won as they almost every time did, when someone tried it again. The rest is history.

But how dit it come to today's treason? First, we have to say that we made some patriotic bread rolls for today's celebration:

We also prepared a cold soup in the colours of our flag (capsicum pepper and cucumber with yogurt). It's the main course, which is the corpus delicti, i.e. our (unintentional) act of treason.

We have been asked by the editor of Marmite, the posh magazine for the culture of wine and dine, to test a recipe for the next edition. It was only today, when we discovered that it's an Austrian recipe. We've already bought a kilogram of the finest and most tender entrecôte from nicely treated Swiss cattle. By all odds, we have to eat it, despite the origin of the recipe. Bloody Austrians, they always have to spoil the party. They can't give it a rest, even after 715 years.