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

July 2008 Archive

July 08, 2008

They installed a new coffee vending machine at the office. The new machine is essentially the same as the old one, only it doesn't throw those sticks into the coffee cups which you use to stir the coffee, and the coffee is actually drinkable now.

The one thing that struck me as the biggest difference is the message that is displayed when the coffee is ready. The old machine said "thank you thank you thank you", whereas the new machine says "see you again soon".

Come to think of it, the coffee from the old machine was gruesome enough that the enthusiastic thanks for actually buying some seemed totally adequate, and the new coffee has something oddly addictive about it...

Posted by Horst at 11:31 PM | Comments (7)

July 12, 2008

After last year's chili crop was eaten by aphids, this year's looks significantly better. I'm particularly proud of my Numex Twilight plant, which not only has chilies in up to five different colours (green, purple, yellow, orange, red) at any given time:

Numex Twilight

the chilies are also hot enough to actually be used for cooking -- up to now, the species I had planted were so mild all I could do was to fill them with fresh goat cheese and eat them raw.

Apparently, Numex Twilight is a hybrid of several ornamental chilies from Thailand, and the product of some kind of experiment at the University of New Mexico (hence "Numex"). The concept of ornamental chilies was new to me, but I must say that they are indeed very pretty, so much that I really didn't want to cut any of them off the plant when I wanted to cook a vindaloo recently.

In the end, I did cut five of them off, and the vindaloo was delicious.

Posted by Horst at 10:49 PM | Comments (2)

July 14, 2008

Yesterday, I wanted to post a brief entry on the jazz saxophonist Herwig Gradischnig on this blog, recommending his latest CD and advertising the free concert he was giving at the Arkadenhof in Vienna's City Hall yesterday evening. Other things interfered with the blog posting, so it didn't happen, and you missed a very fine concert indeed.

I personally think that saxophone trios (sax, bass, drums) are extremely interesting combos, but also very demanding ones. There is no other instrument that any of the musicians could hide behind, especially no piano that could make things "rounder", so they're pretty much exposed and can't really afford to make any mistakes. However, if the musicians are good, they're usually excellent -- see Lee Konitz's Motion, Sonny Rollins' Night at the Village Vanguard or John Coltrane's "Chasin' the Trane" from Live at the Village Vanguard, all of which are extremely impressive recordings.

Herwig Gradischnig's Ghost TrioGradischnig and his "Ghost Trio" (Matthias Pichler, bass, and Klemens Marktl, particularly impressive on drums) were in great form yesterday, even though the audience seemed somewhat indecisive about them, which may have had to do with a location that didn't feel particularly cosy. Gradischnig was a lot more energized than at the last concert I had seen him at, when he seemed a bit pale on the stage and was lacking some of his punch. The whole thing was clarified when he walked to the mic between tracks and said, "If you would do me a favour... if you're ever in Drosendorf in Northern Lower Austria, don't eat the seafood pizza. Just don't. Please.”

I've been wanting to pass on Gradischnig's warning for a while now, and I'm glad I can finally do my blog readers a service this way. If you want to hear what Gradischnig sounds like when he hasn't upset his stomach and don't want to risk not being informed about his next concert by this unreliable blogger, you could buy his new CD (or listen to samples on iTunes). It may not be as immediate as a live concert, but it's still an engaging and energizing recording, taut and flawless, oblique enough not to ever become boring, but not so oblique that it could scare off people who listen to jazz only occasionally. Of all jazz CDs released this year, this is so far my favourite.

Posted by Horst at 03:15 PM | Comments (1)

July 16, 2008

Vienna Transport has recently announced a substantial change in the tramway network around the Ringstrasse, which should bring a significant service improvement, with journey times being reduced by up to 10 minutes for some customers. This will essentially be accomplished by consolidating the routes of lines J, N, 1, 2 and 65 into just two lines, which will be referred to as "new" lines 1 and 2.

However, the changes will also render all travel guide books for Vienna obsolete, as most of them are advocating using tram lines 1 and 2 for cheap round trips of Ringstrasse and all the historic sights. With the announced changes in place, trams 1 and 2 will no longer follow their current circular route. Instead, tram #1 will run along most of the northern part of Ringstrasse from the opera to Julius-Raab-Platz, whereas tram #2 will run along the southern part between Dr.-Karl-Renner-Ring and Schwedenplatz. For a trip around Ringstrasse, you will have to change trams at least once. On the other hand, you can go from the opera around most of Ringstrasse to the Hundertwasserhaus without having to change.

I have updated my Vienna tramway map to reflect the changes, which will be in effect as of 26 October 2008.

Posted by Horst at 03:32 PM | Comments (3)

July 29, 2008

July 31, 2008

Carte Orange

RATP, the Paris public transport authority, is abolishing the "Carte Orange" on August 4th. Which is good for me, as I can thus finally get rid of one of the more dubious photographs that exist of me.

The Carte Orange, the cheapest way to get around Paris if you are staying 3 days or longer, and one of the more famous public transport tickets in the world, thus meets its untimely end 33 years after its introduction. It is replaced by the RFID-based "Passe Navigo". Paris visitors without a fixed address in the Île de France area should ask for a "Passe Navigo Découverte".

Posted by Horst at 06:45 PM | Comments (2)

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