The Aardvark Speaks : essence, effervescence, obscurity. Established 2002. A weblog by Horst Prillinger. ISSN 1726-5320

July 2007 Archive

July 02, 2007

Hereabouts, the Coca Cola corporation is currently busy marketing "Coca Cola Zero", a new product with a black label that has "zero sugar, full taste". Incidentally, they have been selling a similar product with a silver label called "Coca Cola Light" for years, which, according to the label, also contains no sugar. In fact, the list of ingredients and the nutritional table on both drinks is identical. The one discernible difference that I noticed is that the new "full taste" product tastes singificantly more watery than the old one. Otherwise it's more or less the same product in a different bottle. I wonder why they even bother.

Of course I am talking about the same company that got into the headlines a few years back for selling bottled tap water - not that they're the only ones doing this.

In other news, I was recently asked whether the old Pulp Fiction quote is really true and the Quarterpounder is really called "Royale with Cheese" in Europe. It is.

Incidentally, when McDonalds opened its first restaurants in Germany and Austria in the late 1970s, the Quarterpounder was called "Viertelpfünder", which is a pretty accurate translation of Quarterpounder into German. However, subsequent marketing research showed that the product didn't sell too well because people thought it sounded too fat and unhealthy. So, contrary to what John Travolta claims it's not because of the metric system that it was renamed, but simply to make the company's most calorie-heavy product (505kcal) sound slightly healthier.

Present-time transitory perversities such as the 881kcal "Bratl-Burger" were not an issue back then.

Posted by Horst at 07:32 PM | Comments (21)

July 19, 2007

Austria is currently succumbing to a massive heat wave. This is having interesting side-effects.

An Indian restaurant I wanted to go to yesterday was closed "because of excessive heat". You'd expect Indians to be able to deal with the heat. Possibly the owner thought that he wouldn't have any customer with temperatures like these; however, the Indian restaurant I went to instead was full of people who didn't mind spicy food in hot weather.

The big political news was apparently that the opposition parties claimed that public transport couldn't be used any longer due to the lack of air conditioning; apparently one of them (haven't found the source yet) complained that temperatures inside the subway trains was 34°C. With outside temperatures well over 37°C you'd think that 34°C should be considered pleasant.

Anyway, since there is nothing else to worry about at the moment, Austrians were polled about what they thought about the heat, and 87% thought the heat wave was basically a good thing.

More interesting, however, were two other results from the same poll: 69% said that they found sweating people disgusting, whereas 75% noticed an increased sex drive due to the heat. Combined, these two results may disclose more about people's sex habits than they wanted to reveal.

Posted by Horst at 10:32 PM | Comments (1)

July 20, 2007

I am currently conducting various experiments to reduce the heat in my non-airconditioned workplace.

My previous experiment consisted of switching off nine of the eighteen computers in the reference library (which is pretty deserted during vacation time anyway) and putting up signs asking the readers to not switch them on unless all the remaining computers are occupied. A few hours later, temperatures did indeed seem to be somewhat lower than usual.

Currently, I am trying to figure out whether putting large amounts of tinfoil on my office window merely makes the office darker, or if it also keeps out the heat a bit. So far I can confirm that the room is definitely darker, but I'm not sure if it has become any cooler.

Posted by Horst at 03:04 PM | Comments (4)

July 26, 2007

The TRUMPET TEACHER (TT) has been on holidays for two weeks. It has been three weeks since he and the TRUMPET STUDENT (TS) had their last meeting. The TS has been practicing, but not as much as he knows he should have. Nevertheless he has managed to increase his tonal range somewhat, from c" to e". At some point during the lesson, however, the TS struggles unexpectedly as he is supposed to be playing an a', which has never really posed a problem before.

TS: [produces moderately convincing sound on trumpet]

TT: Hm.

TS: [produces slightly less convincing sound on trumpet]

TT: Wait a second. Do that again.

TS: [attempts to produce the same sound, but is stopped before he can actually blow]

TT: You're opening your mouth. Before you start blowing into the mouthpiece, you're opening your mouth. That's not good. Try again.

TS: [attempts to put the trumpet to his mouth without opening his mouth]

TT: You did it again. You probably don't even notice it anymore. That's not good. Take off that mouthpiece, go over to that mirror and watch yourself as you put the mouthpiece on your lips.

TS: [walks to the mirror and puts the mouthpiece to his lips. Sees in the mirror that he is moving his lips without having moved them consciously.]

TT: See that?

TS: Um, yes. [Puts mouthpiece on his lips several times]

TT: Okay, keep going.

TS: [puts mouthpiece on his lips several times. Finally manages to do it without moving his lips too much]

TT: You're still moving your lips. Until next week, I want you to do this in front of your bathroom mirror for at least ten minutes twice every day. And... can I see your lips?

TS: [shows the teacher his lips. The TT studies the impression that the trumpet mouthpiece has left on the TS's lips]

TT: I'm afraid you're putting the mouthpiece too much on your lower lip and not enough on your upper lip. Take that mouthpiece and put it on your lips.

TS: [puts mouthpiece on his lips]

TT: You opened your mouth again.

TS: [sighs. Puts mouthpiece on his lips]

TT: Okay. Higher.

TS: [puts mouthpiece higher on his lips]

TT: Higher. It will feel odd.

TS: [puts mouthpiece higher on his lips. It feels odd]

TT: Getting closer. Higher.

TS: [puts mouthpiece higher on his lips. It feels very odd]

TT: That's the correct position. Now do the mouthpiece thing again, don't open your mouth and try to reach that position.

TS: [puts mouthpiece on his lips several times. It feels very very odd]

TT: Good. Now try to play that sound again.

TS: [mounts mouthpiece on trumpet. Puts trumpet to lips in an uncomfortably high position, taking care not to open the mouth. Attempts to blow] Pfffffffffffff. [a lot of air from the trumpet, no sound at all]

TT: It's the correct position. I'm afraid now you'll have to get used to it before you can play anything again.

TS: Gah.

Posted by Horst at 08:41 PM | Comments (2)

July 27, 2007

wrapperThere must be something culturally specific about free newspapers in France. Every single vinyl record that I've bought from a French seller on eBay so far, regardles of where the seller is located, arrived wrapped in the classified ads section of a free local newspaper. At first I thought it was a mere coincidence, but now that about the 8th or 9th record arrived that way, I'm starting to think that it must be a cultural thing.

Come to think of it, until recently I used to wrap Christmas and birthday gifts in newspapers, but I always chose a page that contained an article with some significance for the person who received the present, but never a free newspaper and (I think) never the classified ads section. And I stopped doing that. 

Posted by Horst at 07:29 PM | Comments (5)

July 31, 2007

French Connection IIIClick flyer to enlarge.

Chansons and French pop start at 9pm.
Jazz starts at 11pm.

You are cordially invited.

Posted by Horst at 03:07 PM | Comments (3)

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